Monday, July 9, 2012

Fearless Defiance

The world lies to women all the time about what it means to be a person under authority.    A maze of confusion awaits us as we try to balance all the conflicting voices in our lives.  Elders and elderly parents, husbands and bosses, all compete for our attention and allegiance, inspiring or indulging our fear. The question of who we will listen to is a complex one. Finding the way to submit with an open heart to the proper authority while standing firm against those who pressure us to do wrong is a puzzle. However diving into the opening of Exodus, we glimpse three clear paths through this maze.  In this series we will explore three sets of women and how they interacted with the authority in their lives.  


As Exodus 1 opens, Pharaoh, ruler of all Egypt, is being driven by fear.  Egypt had an ugly relationship with their northern neighbors.  So Pharaoh imagines that if he allows the Israelites to continue to grow, they will join with his enemies and slip away in the ensuing chaos.  Pharaoh has all the power and he fears losing it.

He intends to use infanticide to geld the growing nation.  Calling in Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives, he tries to coerce them into butchering the newly delivered baby boys.  Every ancient midwife would have held a lifeless child in her hands, but it is unimaginable to break that tiny neck or smother that first breath.   As the number of baby boys continues to increase, these women are called to account.  So they lie to Pharaoh's face.  The king fears Israel and he intends for the midwives to fear him. They however fear God. The story celebrates strength, insubordination and impossible courage.

There are times in our lives when fear mongers want us to be afraid.  Fear drives them to bluster and blow, trying to silence their own terror by terrifying others.  There are people in our lives who intend to manipulate us into being the tools of their tyranny. Not only do they wish us to tremble, they intend to use us to horrify others. What could be more horrifying than a midwife's bloody hands reaching down to kill the screaming babe she just delivered?

There are legitimate authorities over us who wield their power in inappropriate ways.  Governments, employers, fathers and husbands are due our submission, but some instead induce us to sin. The only acceptable response comes from Peter: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge."  (Acts 4:19)


Think today about the ones who are selling fear.  Are we buying?  How about the people who stand over us?  Are they influences for good or evil? Remember the submission of God's daughters belongs first to Him.  We must stand unbowed and defiant to all who would through fear and power lead us to sin. 
Helene
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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