Summary: The princess of Egypt knew that God’s law superseded the state’s law; and chose to act for compassion and justice.
As I began this series of three messages on the theme, Designing Women, last week, I said that we were going to be looking for qualities of leadership out of the stories of those women mentioned in the roll call of faith known as the 11th chapter of Hebrews.
You’ll remember that I pointed out that the author of Hebrews, fascinated as he was by the life of faith, listed any number of people from Old Testament days who had made a mark for themselves by some very special qualities of leadership, integrity, character, and faith. He is careful to point out that all of these persons, as fine as they were, were only shadows of the one whose faithful obedience to God we would ultimately see – that is Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. But, says the author of Hebrews, all of these earlier men and women lived in faith and pointed the way for us; they are, he says, a great cloud of witnesses who now watch us and the way we live.
Now while I could preach a sermon on every character mentioned in Hebrews 11, I have chosen during these three Sundays to focus only on the women who are mentioned; there are only three, but they are powerful, significant, instructive women. And I have an idea that these women bring something special to the realm of spiritual leadership, something which their brothers do not bring.
That’s why I call them designing women; they are purposeful women, they are intentional people. They know themselves, they· understand what they are here for, and, in one way or another, they follow that design. They trace that pattern. They fulfill that purpose, in their own special ways.
Last week we heard the name of Sarah called in the roll call of the heroines of faith. And we were grateful for Sarah as the model of a woman who did understand that she had a purpose, under God, and she set out to fulfill it. The problem with Sarah, though, and with Sarah’s style of leadership, is that she nearly defeated her own purpose. She just about shot herself in the foot. Do you remember how?
Sarah just about defeated her own purpose because she fell prey to the temptation to force God to move along faster than He wanted to, and Sarah did it by using unworthy and evil methods, even though she was trying to do a good thing.
And, further, Sarah let guilt and shame and anger and rage take control of her life. Instead of pursuing the straight path, Sarah began to twist and to turn and to let her worst emotions run her life, and she just about shot herself in the foot.
And then, too, we found out that this designing woman failed some of the tests of leadership because she did not learn from past mistakes. When push came to shove, all she knew to do was to repeat the old useless, pointless strategies of the past, and she nearly defeated her own purpose.
But God was able to turn her around, and Sarah made it in, at last, to the roll call of the heroines of faith.
Today we’re going to deal with somebody who is quite different from Sarah. The designing woman whose life we’ll examine today is from the social register. You would find her in the Green Book. Imagine her as well-dressed, well-placed, elegant, literate, privileged; she’s got it all. And the reason she’s got it all is that she’s daddy’s little girl, and daddy just happens to be Pharaoh, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, emperor of the Nile. This is a daughter of privilege, and she is just about to break the law! But she is also just about to show us some very special qualities of courage and leadership.