Monday, July 23, 2012

Powerful Submission

In the first two parts of our series on women under authority we examined the powerful defiance of the Hebrew midwives and the hopeful faith shown by Jochebed.  Each of these stories focuses on our response to legitimate authority used in illegitimate ways.  The last tale in this trio leads us in a different direction towards submission not only to God but also to legitimate authority.   

As the story comes to a close, Miriam stands watching over the basket containing her 3 month old brother. Much is left to our imagination in the sentence, "His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him." (Exodus 2:4) Was she nominated in a family council the night before to be the witness?  Was she protectively watching over her little brother?  From a child's monochromatic perspective, could she understand her parents' choice?

Yet one thing is certain: she is fearless.  When the very daughter of Pharaoh sees the basket and has the crying child brought to her, Miriam asks, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you…" (Exodus 2: 7) Miriam recognizes the authority in this situation and with her question sees a way to piece her mother's heart back together.  Miriam is a girl, a child and a slave.  She would have to be a squirrel to have less authority in this situation.  Yet even though she has no power except the power of speech, she uses it to her full advantage.  Rather than standing as an example of fearless defiance, or helpless hope against the establishment aligned against her, Miriam exerts the full power of a person in submission, the power of communication.  Miriam is as humble as she is fearless; she doesn't demand the princess return her baby brother but simply offers her own services to her as any slave might.  Miriam is powerfully submissive.

All of these women stand in submission first to the ultimate authority of God.  This fear of God, the beginning of all wisdom, is the power to be fearless.  The midwives fearlessly defied Pharaoh.  Jochebed fearlessly committed her tiny baby to the waves of the Nile, and Miriam fearlessly set aside her anonymity and offered herself to Pharaoh's daughter.

When we fully submit our hearts to God, we will find ourselves in a variety of positions relative to earthly authority.  Sometimes we face Pharaoh.  He either wants to use us to further his plan or to perpetrate evil against us.  We face his manipulation like Shiphrah and Puah with defiance and his oppression like Jochebed with faithful hope. Other times however we will meet Pharaoh's daughter. We will have to put to death our pride and through our submission to God fully submit to the authority over us. Submission was Jesus' choice, humbly putting himself under His father's hand and we can do no less!  In all these situations it is our deferential relationship to God that empowers us to act in fearless faith.


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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