Sermon:  When God's Team Loses       

Summary:  Although God approves of selfless bravery in the service of life, 
as we see in the case of these midwives, our efforts often full short in turning 
the tide of evil, suffering, and injustice.

Text:  Exodus 1  

Scripture Reading:  Is 55:8-9

1.  It seems like conflict will never end.  
	a.  If it is not war in one place, it is in another.  
	b.  On top of that, keep hearing of abductions, murders, serial killers, etc.
	c.  Reminder that we battle evil and suffering all around us.
2.  Remember people starving in Ghana & Ethiopia getting together to help.
3.  However, for every success story, I can give you one that was not a success
	a.  Same sex union Bill passed even though we fought it in Vermont
	b.  Got together to pray for Jeremy, he is healthy
	c.  Got together to pray for Eva, she died anyway
	d.  Christians arrested in Laos, foreign ones exported.  
		- Despite prayers and petitions, they still had to serve sentence and
   		  others quit meeting.
4.  Sometimes people go so far as to lie & deceive to protect from oppression.
	a.  Throughout history, people did this to try make world better place.  
	b.  Does God approve?  Look at scripture

I.  Text:  Exodus 1 - Account of oppression and injustice 
	A. (v.1-7) - Quick introduction
	B.  (v.8-10) - Foreigners went from being a family to becoming a "people"
		1.  Ironically, first one recognized them as a people is also the one 
		     who tried to exterminate them.
		2.  From Egyptian perspective, these foreigners were taking over
		3.  Pharaoh did not care about Joseph
	C. Came up with a plan (v.11-16)
		1.  Plan 1 - Hard, bitter labor for population control.  It had the 
 		    opposite effect
		2.  Plan 2 - Widwives, Shiprah and Puah to kill the males
		3.  Both plans backfire on Pharoah
	D.  Plan 2 foiled because midwives lied to & disobeyed Pharaoh (v17-21)
		1. They said that the Hebrew women were better at having babies 
 		   that Egyptian women
		2. In reality, they simply let the boys live, risking their lives in the 
		3. They were guilty of both civil disobedience and lying
		4.  Is it okay to do the sort of thing these women did?

II.  Does text give any indication their actions are approved? 
	A.  In narratives, not always explicit approval or disapproval
		1.  Sometimes you have to look for hints in a text
		2.  Usually will find something that indicates approval or disapproval 
	B.  We see their actions approved for these reasons
		1.  God blessed them for fearing God
			a.  Which God did they fear?
			b.  It wasn't Pharaoh, who was considered a son of the gods
			c.  It was the God of life, the creator
		2.  The subtle way the story is told
			a.  Some of the most evil rulers in the world - Hitler, Stalin
				- Names are known by everyone
				- They are infamous 
			b.  Pharaoh can be classed along with these men
			c.  Scholars have been trying to figure out for certain who the 
			     Pharaoh was, there is still disagreement among scholars.
			d.  Pharaoh is not named, BUT the two lowly midwives are
				- This Pharaoh would be infamous, but scripture does 
 				  not give us his name
				- Instead, it gives us the name of the midwives and 
				  elevates them
				- We can remember them and their brave actions
		3.  Yes, God approves of this kind of selfless bravery.  
			a.  It is too easy to be apathetic and do nothing against the 
			     evil injustice we see in the world.
			b.  God is passionate about justice, and in this case, rewards 
			      those who worked to preserve justice
	C.  ILL:History is full of people who took their lives into their own hands in 
 	     the name of righteousness and justice.
		1.  There were those people who sheltered and protected the Jews 
 		    in Nazi Germany.  Alfred Schindler
		2.  In the Bible, Rahab is heralded as an example of faith when she 
 		    hid the Hebrew spies on her roof.  
		3.  Rachael Scott & Cassie Bernall who bravely confessed Jesus at 
		4.  Many people who took their lives in their own hands helped to 
  		    turn the tide of injustice and evil.  
	D.  Text seems to indicate that God is pleased when we work to turn the 
  	    tide of injustice

III.  What was the result? 
	A.  Immediate results
		1.  The Hebrew baby boys were spaced
		2.  The Hebrews continued to grow strong and numerous
		3.  We can jump up and down for God's team
			a.  They are winners, they have God on their side
			b.  It is time for Pharaoh to give up!
	B.  Turn of events (v.22)
		1.  Pharaoh resorts to genocide 
		2.  This time he orders ALL the Egyptians to participate
			a.  Everywhere you turn is potential danger
			b.  Had to hide from everyone
		3.  Would like to say other heroes stood up to Pharaoh, but this 
 		    does not happen
			a.  Text gives no indication babies were spared
			b.  Now we are horrified
			c.  At first, Pharaoh's plans backfire, but now succeeding?
	C.  God is supposed to be the hero of the Bible...
		1.  But all he does is bless midwives who stood up to Pharaoh
		2.  Why doesn't God himself stand up to Pharaoh?
		3.  Result - Appears women only postponed the inevitable 
	D.  What does this say about God?
		1.  Is he weak?  Uncaring?  What is he doing?
		2.  Tempting to jump in and defend God
			a.  Job's friends did this, were chastised by God
			b.  Text gives no explanation at this point, neither should we

1.  I usually don't like to leave a sermon hanging
	a.  Always told not to leave people in the valley of despair in a sermon
	b.  But what do you do when the text goes into the valley?
		- Do you start jumping to other passages?
		- Do you try to explain it away?
		- Do you smooth it over?
		- Or do you let the text speak for itself?  Even if it leaves you 
2.  I remember watching episodes of shows like Batman.  
  	a.  Often ended with tense situation, look like good guy going to lose.
	b.  This is the picture we are left with at the end of this episode.
3. Is there any lesson at all in this first episode?
	a.  For all our valiant efforts, often times fall short.  God's team will lose.
	b.  Fortunately, we know that this is not the end of the story.  There is 
     	    more to come
4.  Will they survive?  Will justice prevail?  Stay tuned.