Wednesday, February 9, 2011

That's How I Read...(Part 2)

So my friends Nathan and Amanda have just recently started a study of 1 Corinthians based on a uniquely formatted version of the Bible called Books of the Bible. (You can read more about their study here and here.)

Now once we were all able to dig our ways out from the recent blizzard, Nathan and Amanda came over to visit. As we visited, we got to talking about some of their observations from the study. One of the issues that came up was that of submission to authority. This began with the concepts from 1 Corinthians, including staying in the position you were in when you were saved (1 Cor 7:17-24), lawsuits between believers (1 Cor 6:1-11), and giving up your rights (1 Cor 9).

But we also began discussing other places in the Bible where it talks about this issue of submission to authority. We noted that in Romans 13:1 it says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."

And this verse is speaking of the Roman government who was corrupt and oppressive, particularly to Christians!

But we also noted in Acts 4 when the disciples were ordered by the Jewish rulers to no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they answered "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge."(Acts 4:19)

And we obviously know they went on teaching in Jesus' name!

Well, we didn't come to a concrete definitive answer that night, but did seem to agree that we generally need to give up our rights for the sake of Christ's name, even when that means being wronged and treated unjustly sometimes.

So with that fresh in my mind, I was intrigued by something that jumped out at me when I read Exodus 1.

As I did my initial reading in The Message, this grabbed my attention:

The king of Egypt called in the midwives. “Why didn’t you obey my orders? You’ve let those babies live!” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; they’re vigorous. Before the midwife can get there, they’ve already had the baby.” God was pleased with the midwives. (vs 18-20a MSG)


The midwives directly disobeyed the order of the Pharoah. When called on it, they lied. And God is pleased?

Upon further study I found the phrase there in the beginning of verse 20 more literally means that God "treated well" the midwives.

But this brings up some interesting questions.

When is it okay to disobey the authorities over us?
Why was it commendable that the midwives just lied to the Pharoah rather than tell the truth and face the consequences?
What makes God treat us well?

Look forward to the comments.


Amanda said...

my girls and i got into a discussion awhile back about whether or not it was ever okay to lie. i think i basically said we tend to lie in order to save ourselves and that is never okay. i did point out instances where someone lied in the Bible, such as the one with the midwives and also with rahab the prostitute, and God was pleased. i said it seemed there were instances where people lied in the Bible not to save themselves but because they were protecting someone innocent from a corrupt or evil ruler or authority.

also told them the issue of lying came up in corrie ten boom's book, but that the sisters didn't actually agree on whether or not it was okay to lie.

180 Youth Ministry said...

Shannon and I were talking about the Corrie Ten Boom issue as I was writing this post. Definitely a hard concept to get your head around. I really like your distinction though between saving ourselves and protecting the innocent.

Nathan Stitt said...

When is it okay to disobey the authorities over us?

I think that in matters of conscience or religious conviction it is okay to rebel against social or spiritual leaders. I think God wants us to live within the established countries/governments and not try to establish our own country/government.

Our kingdom is not of this world, so we should live within the system here buy not try to create a new government/leadership. If the US passed a law completely banning prayer and reading the Bible, then we should disobey and continue to read and pray. We should not try to overthrow the government and create a new order.

I remember our conversation about this got hung up on the issue of the US being created by those wanting religious freedom. I know many of the founding fathers wanted the colonies to stay under the rule of the king, but the uprising became popular and they went along with the creation of a new order/country. I don't think God approved.

Why was it commendable that the midwives just lied to the Pharoah rather than tell the truth and face the consequences?

Perhaps because they were saving the innocent. There are two ways to approach deceit. You can either justify the means to the end, such as the case here. Or you can look at it that one should be honest in all cases and be ready to die for it, or allow others to die for it. The people who react to the truth are ultimately responsible.

If the midwives had followed his orders and put the babies to death they would have been murderers. Instead they chose to lie and not commit murder. If they had told the truth they would have died instead (probably) and that is the right thing to do if you believe in always telling the truth. Not sure where I stand on this one.

What makes God treat us well?

No idea. Sometimes I wonder why I was born in America instead of as an HIV baby in Africa that died of starvation. I am no better than them, but I am doing pretty well. Fate, karma, luck, was I predestined for this? Are those kids predestined to die a miserable, hungry, and short life? I have no answers to this.