You Asked for It 2008 part 1
Princesses of the Bible
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 17, 2008



Let me give you a quiz. Let’s see if you can identify these princesses. There are some blanks in your notes where you can put in your answers. I’ll give you a few minutes. Good luck.

Answers:
Princess Diana
Princess Ariel
Princess Elizabeth
Princess Leia
Princess Anne
Princess Margaret
Princess Buttercup
The Pacific Princess
Princess Grace
Princess Fiona

This is the first week of our You Asked for It message series. And as you may know, we’ve done this every year since Sunrise began. Every year I collect requests from you on different passages or topics you would like addressed on a Sunday morning, and in August we do a message series based on those requests.

We’ve done it every year, so we’ve had a pretty good variety of topics. But I’ve never had one quite like the one we’re looking at this morning.

Now, when I get the requests, there aren’t always names attached. And that was the case with this one. But I think I have a pretty good idea who submitted this request, and I don’t believe they are in this room this morning. I think the person who requested that I speak on “Princesses of the Bible” is actually downstairs in Sunrise Express today. But I was intrigued by the topic, so we’re going to look at it anyway.

Now, the truth is, there aren’t all that many princesses that we’re told about in the Bible. There are plenty of queens, plenty of honourable and powerful women, but not that many princesses. So what we’re going to do is look at just three princesses that the Bible identifies.

Starting with the one Derek read about earlier… Pharaoh’s daughter.

Princess #1: Pharaoh’s Daughter (Exodus 2:1-10)

Now, the Bible doesn’t even give this princess a name. But the Rabbis did. In their Jewish tradition, they’ve named her Bithiah. So that’s the name we’re going to use for her.

If you’re familiar with the story, you know that centuries earlier, in the time of Jacob (also known by the name Israel), there was a great famine that all across the land, and the only place that had any food was Egypt. That’s a fascinating story in and of itself that we don’t have time to get into today, but result was that Jacob and all his family ended up moving and living in Egypt.

Well, at first they were respected and welcomed to the country. But over time, the children of Israel, the Israelites, started having “what we know today as babies.” And they had plenty of them. So many that the Pharaoh’s eventually became intimidated by the sheer number of them. They thought they might actually tack over the country. So they came up with a solution. They enslaved the Israelites.

But a strange thing happened. The more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more the Israelite population exploded. Until finally Pharaoh issued an order that any newborn Israelite boy be thrown into the Nile River in order to let them drown.

That’s where our story picked up this morning. One particular Israelite couple had a child. And understandably, they didn’t want to throw him into the river. So they kept him out of sight for three months.

Now, I have a six month old. So I’ve recently been through this. There’s a point where a newborn child loses that cute newborn cry. And after that, you can try to keep your child hidden, but they’re going to make their presence known. And there ain’t nuttin’ you can do about it.

Well, this child born to this Israelite couple reached that point. And they knew they weren’t going to be able to keep him hidden any longer. So they did the only thing they could do: they obeyed Pharaoh… kind of. You see, they did put their son in the Nile. But they put him into a waterproofed basket first. So the basket floated and the boy didn’t drown.

Well, this infant had an older sister named Miriam. And she watched from a distance to see what would happen to this basket carrying her brother. So Miriam watched as Pharaoh’s daughter (Bithiah) along with her attendants came down to the river to take a bath.

Well, as Bithiah was preparing to enter the water, she saw the basket nestled in among the reeds. So she sent one of her attendants to retrieve it. Then Bithiah opened the basket, saw the boy, realized that it must be one of the Israelite children, and decided that she would adopt him as her own. And she would name him Moses.

That’s the account of the birth of Moses and how God used this Egyptian princess to rescue Moses from a watery finale to a short life. And we know the rest, don’t we? We know that God was positioning Moses and was preparing him to eventually become the leader of God’s people and to lead them out of slavery and take them to the Promised Land.

But we’re not talking about Moses this morning. We’re talking about this princess. And what I want you to understand is that this princess as far as we know was not a servant of God. Hey, in all likelihood, she probably worshiped her own father as her god. That was the Egyptian belief. And as far as we know, Bithiah shared that belief. So Bithiah would not have been a follower of who we understand to be the one true God.

But what amazes me is that this fact does not prohibit God from using her. And what that tells me is that God can use anything and anyone at anytime to accomplish His purposes. He has a way of using unfavourable people and unfavourable situations, turning them around and using them for His glory. He creates hope out of hopelessness.

That’s the faith lesson that we learn from this princess:

Faith Lesson: God can create hope out of hopelessness.

Think about Miriam, the sister who was watching form a distance. What was she expecting to see? Did she know the princess was coming to take a bath? Or did she have no idea and just wanted to know the fate of her baby brother? I don’t really know what Miriam was expecting. But I doubt she was holding out much hope. I mean, even if she knew the princess was coming… well, we’re talking about Pharaoh’s daughter. Surely she wasn’t expecting the princess to ignore the Pharaoh’s order.

But God has a way of rescuing us when all seems lost, doesn’t He? He creates life out of death. He bring hope out of despair. In Psalm 40, David wrote…

Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

I’m not sure when David wrote those words. But just from reading them, I suspect he wrote them when he was on the run for his life. King Saul felt threatened by David, so he made it his mission to kill David. So David was literally forced to run for his life, hiding in caves, forced into foreign lands… so that’s where I picture David when he wrote those words. “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.”

You know, we all have times in our lives when all seems lost. When we find ourselves in a hole so deep we don’t know how we’re going to get out. Maybe you find yourself right now in a storm of life… maybe it’s a health problem, maybe it’s financial, maybe it’s relational, whatever… you need to know that no problem is too big for God.

Isaiah 43:2-3,15-16,18-19 (NLT)
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
“I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea…
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

He’s saying that when all seems lost, you can look to Him. You can trust Him. He can provide answers when there doesn’t seem to be any. He can sustain you when you’re ready to give up. When all seems lost, He can save you.

Don Moen wrote a song that was popular in church circles a few years, inspired by these verses. Listen to this…

PLAY VIDEO OF DON MOEN SINGING “GOD WILL MAKE A WAY”

Perhaps you’ve been going through a particularly rough time in your life. Perhaps you haven’t even told anyone about it. You need to know that you’re not alone. As your church family, we’re here for you. But more importantly, God is right there with you, He knows the entire situation, and He is offering you Hope as an anchor that will help you weather the storm. Grab hold of that hope and don’t let it go.

Let’s go on to Princess #2. To do that, we need to look a few centuries earlier…

Genesis 17:15-16 (NLT)
Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”

Now, Abraham is a towering figure in the history of the Jewish people and in the pages of the Bible. So he tends to get most of the press. But right alongside him was his wife, Sarah. And you see in this passage how God intentionally draws attention to her name. Maybe you already know this, maybe you don’t. But the name “Sarah” means “princess”.

So no, Sarah wasn’t the daughter of royalty. There wasn’t a kingdom that her family ruled over. She probably didn’t own a tiara. But in God’s eyes, she was a princess.

Princess #2: Sarah (Genesis 17-21)

Now, what we just read was from Genesis chapter 17. Several chapters and 25 years earlier, God had called Abraham (then known as Abram) to take Sarai, to leave their homeland, and go to the land God would lead them to. And they obeyed. But here’s what you need to understand. Abraham and Sarai were no spring chickens. Abraham was 75 years old at the time. Sarai was 65. Yet here they are, trusting God and following Him wherever He leads them.

And a lot of things happen over the next 25 years. Including a recurring promise that God gives to them.

You see, Abraham and Sarai didn’t have any children. And when was the last time you heard of someone 65 years old giving birth to a child? Yet God on several occasions promises to them that their descendents would be too many to count. They’d be like the stars in the sky or the sands on the shore.

Quite a promise to give to senior citizen parents of none.

In fact, as the years go by and nothing happens, Sarai and Abraham come up with their own plan to start a family. You see, Sarai has a servant named Hagar, and she… arranges… for Abraham to have a son with her.

Now, when I hear the name “Hagar”, this is what I usually picture…

POWERPOINT – IMAGE OF HAGAR THE HORRIBLE

But I don’t think that’s who Sarai set Abraham up with. (Unless she just forgot to shave that day.)

Well, their plan works, sort of. Hagar does have a son, and he’s named Ishmael. But their plan wasn’t God’s plan. And their method wasn’t God’s method. God intended to give Abraham and Sarai a son, and that promise was still to be fulfilled.

Let’s jump forward to Genesis 18…

Genesis 18:1-15 (NLT)
The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.

Here you see Abraham showing some middle eastern hospitality. It would be customary for a host to rise to great visitors. Unless, of course, those visitors were also superiors. In which case, the custom would be to not only rise but to go to greet them. Which is what Abraham is doing here.

Now, how did Abraham know that these visitors were his superiors? Could he tell by the way they were dressed? Maybe. Or perhaps he recognized one of them. We’ll get to that. Let’s go on…

“My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”
“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”

So Abraham is continuing to show great hospitality.

So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.
“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.

Ah, so they know who Sarah is.

“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”

Now, there’s quite a thing for a visitor to say, isn’t it? Just out of the blue, “Ah, your 89 year old wife will have a son within the next year.” Who could say something like that? It’s becoming clear, isn’t it? These are divine visitors. Were they angels? Were they more than that? Many people believe that this is one of the pre-incarnation (pre-Christmas) appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament. And remember, the Lord had met with Abraham on several previous occasions. So maybe Abraham did recognize immediately who the visitors were. Well, let’s go on.

Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children.

I thought Shera and I waited a long time. But here Abraham and Sarah are, more than twice our age.

So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”

Busted. But you know what happened, right?

Genesis 21:1-7 (NLT)
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

Now, that’s quite a story. And what I want you to realize from all this is that God does keep His promises. Always. There are no barriers that can prevent Him from coming through. Age isn’t a factor, wealth isn’t a factor, social status isn’t a factor, your past isn’t a factor, your health isn’t a factor… Any limitation that you might think will keep God from coming through on His promises is no limitation. You can go to the bank on His promises.

Faith Lesson: God always comes through on His promises.

So what are some of His promises. Listen to just a few…

[Arrange beforehand for three people to alternate reading these verse from their seats]

Philippians 4:5-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

Matthew 11:29 (NLT)
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Romans 8:1 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

John 5:24 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

1 John 5:4 (NLT)
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

1 John 1:9 (NLT)
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Romans 10:9 (NLT)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

John 14:1-3 (NIV)
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Those are just a dozen of the promises of God found in the Bible. Read it for yourself and you’ll discover hundreds, maybe thousands of them. And every one of the promises of God are true. He does not fail in keeping his promises.

This Book (the Bible) is packed full of promises that God has made, and perhaps He has made some to you personally. Believe Him. He will not go back on His promises. You can trust Him.


Alright. Let’s just take a quick look at Princess #3. The third princess we’re going to talk about this morning is… you.


Princess #3: You

Okay, there may be a gender issue here. So if there is, then you’re a prince. You’re a “prince of a guy” or you’re a “princess of a girl”. If you’re a child of God, that is what you are. If you a child of the King of Kings, you are a prince or a princess.

So just to clarify things in your notes, because I know it would drive me nuts, write this in…

Any child of God is a prince or a princess.  We are in His royal family.

Read these verses aloud with me…

Romans 8:16-17 (NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

Let me ask you, how do you think of yourself? Because in God’s eyes, you are His dearly loved child. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have been welcomed into His family… the Family of God.

Have you ever wondered why often in churches you’ll hear people refer to each other as “brother” or “sister”? It’s because we are. We are members of God’s royal family, and that makes each of us a prince or a princess.

So ladies, if you wanted to be a princess when you grew up, congratulations! You made it.

Guys, if you wanted to be Prince Charming… well, you got half of it.

So what’s the faith lesson here?

Faith Lesson: As a child of THE King, I must aim to become more like His Son.

I came across this picture online this week…

(Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Science_and_Invention_Nov_1928_Cover_2.jpg)

This is the cover of a magazine from 1928, that if you read the magazine it would tell you how to build your own television receiver. And if you followed the instructions you would end up with a television looking like that. You would view the image through that cone, and the image would measure 4 cm by 4 cm. 48 line scans an 7.5 frames per second. Talk about your high def large screen TV.

In the image, you see the guy using a tuning fork to calibrate it just right. When he gets it just right, the component will vibrate in resonance with the tuning fork.

You know what? We need to calibrate our hearts to vibrate in resonance with the heartbeat of God. We need to calibrate our character to His character. We need to calibrate our conduct to His conduct. That needs to be our aim.

And that really requires two things. First, it requires that you do everything you can do to honour God in word, thought and deed. And second, it means that you make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to perform His transforming work in your life. It means you trust Him and cooperate with what He’s doing in you, shaping you to become more and more like Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

So how do you cooperate with what He’s doing? You trust Him, you read His Word, you pray and allow Him to speak to you, you obey Him. And understand, it’s a process. But He can be trusted to finish the job. Paul wrote…

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it’s a lifelong process. But if you are a child of the King, that’s an everlasting position.

 

 

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