In the beginning of Exodus, we see a recounting of the sons of Jacob – the tribes of Israel – who came from Canaan into Goshen and settled in the land of Egypt. They followed God’s hand that brought Joseph there, through the turning of an evil act into something beautiful: the redemption of a family and of a nation.
They were certainly smaller at that time – when they first arrived, the Bible says they numbered seventy – not counting Joseph and his family who were already there. But they were a fruitful and prosperous nation and grew to fill the country around them. So much so that when the new pharaoh came into power – one who did not know of Joseph and all he had done for the people of Egypt – he was threatened by their numbers and so put them into slavery and oppressed labor.
In the midst of the hardship and oppression, the Israelites continued to grow and multiply as a nation. This gave no comfort to pharaoh who turned to something more insidious to curb the population growth and minimize what he saw as a threat to his rule. He designed to have the newborn male infants killed.
Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” Exodus 1:15-16
Imagine the position that this put the midwives in. The pharaoh was asking them to do the impossible, but it is probable that their lives may have hung in the balance here. They were in no position to argue. In addition, these were probably not women on means within the Hebrew culture. They did not have children of their own. They were not of the intellectual or spiritual elite. And they were already part of a persecuted people. But what they did have in abundance was a tremendous faith in God and a belief in His power.
But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” Exodus 1:17-19
Where did they find this courage and will to defy the pharaoh? They simply realized that pharaoh had not only pitted himself ageist the people of Israel, but against the Lord almighty, and they knew where the real power was held. Notice too, that they didn’t try to argue with pharaoh; they didn’t scream about the injustice to him, they didn’t try to beg, or plead, or dissuade. They simply used those first, intimate moments with a mother and child to let that child draw their breath and live – no matter if it was a boy or a girl.
Whether or not pharaoh believed their stories about why they seemed to be missing all the births of the male children didn’t matter. The Lord had his hand on Shiphrah and Puah and blessed them for their obedience.
|photo by hotblack|
The Bible tells us very clearly that we are to follow the laws of the land that govern us.
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. Romans 13:1
But there may come a time in our lives when we will be asked to choose between those laws and the laws of God. That will never be a choice to take lightly. But if God is at the center of that choice, if it comes by His asking and His design, you can know without a doubt that His hand will be on you.
You might be wondering how to know if God is asking you to take a step like the one that Shiprah and Puah did. Or maybe you just want to know how to understand God better and know His will for your life.
Spending time with Him on a daily basis is a great place to start. Having a relationship with God is just like having a relationship with anyone else. You have to talk to Him (prayer) and spend time listening (reading the Word) if you want the relationship to grow. There are some great groups like Hello Mornings that provide study materials and accountability for going through the Word. Your church probably has some great resources too. Bible Gateway is another online resource for devotions, reading plans, and different translations of the Bible.
My prayer for you is that wherever you are with your walk with the Lord, you will find a way to get closer, draw nearer, and find just a little more time to spend in His company. You will be blessed.
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