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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Title:Shiphrah and Puah
Text:Exodus 1 (View)
Occasion:Civil Tragedy
Topic: 6th Commandment (Murder)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Exodus 1; Songs: Jesus shall reign; This my Father's world; Doxology.
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Dear friends:

The March for Life this year is called "Exodus 2009." Why that name? Why "Exodus"?

When we hear the word "Exodus" then we cannot help but think about the Exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt. This exodus was a good thing. After all, they had ended up as slaves in Egypt. To leave Egypt was a good thing.

And yet, the exodus led to a hard time for the children of Israel. It meant 40 years in the wilderness. They wandered for 40 years in the deserts of the Sinai Peninsula before they entered the Promised Land. Often hungry, thirsty, and attacked by marauding nomad tribes.

Canada has been in the wilderness for 40 years. We have been wandering with our moral compass spinning around for 40 years. What happened 40 years ago?

40 years ago, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Justice Minister of the day, introduced his controversial Omnibus bill in the House of Commons. The bill called for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. It dealt with issues as diverse as homosexuality, abortion, gambling, gun control and drunk driving. All these different issues were put into the massive 126-page, 120-clause amendment to our Criminal code.

40 years ago the House of Commons passed the bill. It was a day of infamy for our country. For among other things, it opened wide the door to legal abortion. The bill made it legal for women to have an abortion if a committee of three doctors felt the pregnancy endangered the mental, emotional or physical well-being of the mother. Ever since, our government has sanctioned abortion on demand—the killing of unborn children. May 14th, 1969—A day of infamy.

"Exodus" is a fitting name for this year's March for Life because of the 40 years since Trudeau's infamous bill.

But I want, for a moment, to draw your attention to the time just before the exodus. To the time when Israel was still in Egypt. I want to draw your attention to the first chapter of the book called "Exodus" and, especially to the two ladies we read about there.

[ Read Exodus 1 ]

Today I want you to think about the two Hebrew (Israelite) midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. They were midwives to the Hebrew/Israelite women. It was their task to help with the birth of the Israelite babies.

The Hebrews, the children of Israel, had become a large presence within the nation Egypt. At first they were treated well, because of Joseph. Perhaps you remember the story about how Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob (aka as Israel) had become the PM of Egypt. We can't expand on that this morning.

At first the Egyptians had treated the Israelites well because of Joseph. But then a new king arose who did not know Joseph. He panicked when he saw this growing nation of people within his nation Egypt.

He enslaved them. He forced them to build buildings and cities. He thought that, in this way, he'd keep them under his thumb. But the Israelites continued to increase in number.

So the king developed a vicious plan. He called the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, and told them to kill the baby boys. At the time of birth, if they saw that it was a little girl, they could let her live. But if it was a baby boy, they were to kill him. Without any boys being born, the Israelite nation would slowly implode.

Shiphrah and Puah, however, disobeyed the king. The text says that they feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do.

The Bible teaches that we must obey the government. However, if obeying the government leads us to disobey God, we must disobey the government to obey God. Obedience to God comes first and foremost, always. By obeying the king and killing the boy babies, Shiphrah and Puah would have put themselves in conflict with the commandments of God. They feared God; they obeyed God; they let the children—girl and boy—live.

The king summoned them and asked them why all these baby boys were living. Why had they not killed them?

They answered: "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." The Lord blessed Shiphrah and Puah. Because they feared God, he gave them families of their own.

The king was not to be stopped. He gave the order that every boy that was born to the children of Israel was be thrown into the Nile River.

Shiphrah and Puah could not stop the evil king. They could not stop the evil. But they stood up for what was right. They did what was right. They feared God, obeyed him, and took a stand.

When we hear about a king killing baby boys, our minds go from that moment in history to another moment. We think of another king who killed baby boys. The wicked King Herod the Great (Matthew 1).

When King Herod heard from the magi that a king who was Christ the Lord was born in Bethlehem, he sent his soldiers to kill all the baby boys 2 and under in Bethlehem. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to escape—to go, of all places, to Egypt.

And so Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was saved alive. He would come back, become a man, and would eventually die on the cross for the salvation of all who look to him in faith. Who confess their sins and trust that they are forgiven for Jesus' sake.

There is forgiveness for Jesus' sake. Also forgiveness for those who commit the sin of abortion. May all sinners look to Jesus for the complete forgiveness of all their sins.

This Jesus died, but rose again. He ascended into heaven, but he is coming again. Coming again as the judge of all people.

He will set everything right.

Today there is so much crime, so much injustice, so much cruelty. Today we are contemplating just one example of injustice—abortion. The killing of babies, both girl and boy. We are in the wilderness. But Jesus will set everything right. Just like the Yeshua of the OT led Israel from the wilderness into the Promised Land, so the Yeshua of the NT will lead us from this present wilderness into the heavenly Promised Land.

But in the mean time, he calls upon us to do what is right. We do not wait in blissful passivity doing nothing because, "…well, Jesus is going to make everything right. We don't need to do anything!"

No. We are called to act. Let us today be inspired by Shiphrah and Puah, two women who stood up for life. Who held the line for the babies.

Let us March for Life. Shiphrah and Puah stood up for life. They defended life. Let us March for Life. Let us March in honour and memory of Shiphrah and Puah, two women who feared God. AMEN

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2009, Rev. George van Popta

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