Defiance as a Good Thing
When you hear the word “defiance,” what images come to mind? I picture a mob of angry people shaking their fists. Or a sullen teenager rebelliously going her own way. Or even a group of women jubilantly burning their bras. In other words, mostly negative images. (excepting, perhaps, the Great Bra Overthrow)
This kind of defiance rebels against evil, both out of the fear of the Lord and for the sake of those who are powerless.
However, the Bible describes another kind of defiance – a positive kind. This kind of defiance rebels against evil, both out of the fear of the Lord and for the sake of those who are powerless. It is a godly characteristic, and one that he expects all people, including women, to have. In fact, it is just this kind of defiant people that God uses to thwart evil and make sure his plans come to pass. Let me show you what I mean.
Last time I wrote about Exodus, Pharaoh tried to stop God’s people from being fruitful and multiplying. His plans were thwarted, but that didn’t slow him down. Instead, he decided to try a different tactic: Kill all the Hebrew baby boys. Ruthless, but effective, population control.
God, however, wanted his people to live. His ultimate plan was to set them free from the oppressive rule of Pharaoh and to bring them to the Promised Land, where they would be exceedingly fruitful. Ultimately, the Messiah would come from this nation. In order to thwart Pharaoh’s evil plan and instead accomplish his good plan, God used the efforts of defiant women in three situations.
God Uses the Defiance of the Hebrew Midwives
Pharaoh’s first attempt to enact his evil policy was made through the Hebrew midwives, Puah and Shiphrah. Knowing they would be there when the women gave birth, he ordered them to kill all the boys. The midwives, however, would not do it; the author tells you that it was because they feared God.
This kind of fear is similar to what you feel when you stand on the edge of a cliff by the ocean during a storm.
To fear the Lord means to understand that he is holy, powerful, and sovereign over everything. This kind of fear is similar to what you feel when you stand on the edge of a cliff by the ocean during a storm. You know for certain that you do not stand a chance against that kind of power. As followers of Jesus, you and I know that the Lord is never going to use that power against us. But that does not stop us from bowing down in awe at its reality.
The Hebrew midwives feared the Lord instead of fearing Pharaoh. It would have been easy to see Pharaoh as the ruler who must be obeyed. They knew that he was willing to kill and would certainly have been aware that their defiance could have cost them their lives. By faith, however, they knew that God was more powerful than Pharaoh and that he was the one who must be obeyed.
And the Lord was pleased that the midwives feared him. He not only spared their lives, but also rewarded them by establishing their own households for them. God used these defiant women to save the lives of many baby boys.
God Uses the Defiance of Moses’ Mother
Unfortunately, Pharaoh had not learned his lesson. When his plan to kill the baby boys by the hand of the midwives failed, he commanded that all the Egyptians cast the Hebrew baby boys into the Nile River. Into this situation, Moses was born. As the story later shows, Moses was chosen by God to be the one through whom God would deliver his people. It was imperative that Moses’ life would be saved for the sake of God’s plan of deliverance. Once again, God used defiant people to accomplish his purpose.
The Bible says that when Moses was born, his mother looked at him and saw that he was beautiful, so she hid him. It seems as though Moses’ mother was able to see that there was something unique about her baby that made her want to save him. But, even more basically than that, she wanted to save him because she valued life the same way God does. The word for “beautiful,” is the same as the word for “good” in the Hebrew. Just as God looked on his creation and saw that it was good in the first chapter of Genesis, so this woman looked upon her baby and saw that he was good. She evaluated his life as precious, defied the command of Pharaoh, and kept him a secret. Thus God used the godly defiance of Moses’ mother to save his life.
God Uses the Defiance of Pharaoh’s Daughter
As every mother knows, quiet newborns become loud infants overnight. When three-month-old Moses could no longer be hidden, Moses’ mother made him an ark and placed him in the Nile, leaving his fate in the hand of God. In order to save him once again, God raised up one more defiant woman.
As Moses’ sister watched to see what would happen to her brother, Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe. It must have seemed like disaster; the only worse possibility was if it had been Pharaoh himself! Thankfully, however, Pharaoh’s daughter was not like her father. She opened the basket, saw the baby, and felt compassion. Instead of the cruel indifference to life that her father displayed, Pharaoh’s daughter had pity on this helpless baby and wanted to save his life. Though she didn’t know God, Pharaoh’s daughter was acting like God. It is God’s compassion that moves him to forgive rebellious sinners at great cost to himself.
This compassion motivated Pharaoh’s daughter to defy her evil father. She not only saved his life (and Moses’ mother got paid to nurse him), but she adopted him as her son. God saved the deliverer of his people through these defiant women. Moses would grow up right under the nose of Pharaoh himself.
The Defiance of Jesus Saves You and Me
Many hundreds of years later, another Hebrew baby was born. His name was Jesus and, like Moses, he was called by God to deliver his people. Another evil ruler, Herod, wanted to kill him. He commanded that all the baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding area be put to death. Joseph, who feared the Lord, listened to the angel who told him to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. There, they were kept safe until the danger had passed.
Jesus, however, was a different kind of deliverer than Moses was. His life was spared so that he could later die for the sins of his people, conquering death and saving their lives for eternity. Like Pharaoh, Satan wanted to stop this plan, so he tempted Jesus to avoid the cross. When Peter rebuked Jesus for announcing that he would have to die, Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Mt. 16:22-23) Jesus feared God and trusted his plan of deliverance, so he willingly went to the cross, defying the easy road offered to him by the devil.
It is because God loves his creation and still declares it “good,” that he was willing to go to such great lengths to restore it.
The cross also demonstrates the character of God. It is because God loves his creation and still declares it “good,” that he was willing to go to such great lengths to restore it. It is because God has compassion on his image bearers that he would do everything necessary to set them free from the oppressive rule of Satan and save their lives from death.
How Does God Want to Use Your Defiance?
Through faith in Christ, your life has been saved. God has made you a new person, one who fears him, loves life, and has compassion on the powerless. And just like the women in the Old Testament, he has ways that he wants you to defy evil.
Will you defy evil and be used by God to accomplish his purposes?
How is God asking you to do this now? Perhaps he is asking you to pray for someone who has walked away from the Lord. Satan whispers lies that it is hopeless, but you defy him and keep asking the Lord to redeem. Maybe you’ve been told that you shouldn’t share the gospel because it isn’t loving. You defy this lie that the world tells and humbly and kindly tell others the good news. There are refugees whom many say should be ignored because of fear. Will you show them compassion? Has the Lord brought a woman into your life who is contemplating abortion? You can defy evil by loving her and helping her. Human trafficking, racism, persecution…there are countless evil injustices that the Lord cares about. Will you defy evil and be used by God to accomplish his purposes?