During my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I was reading from Exodus chapter 1. After Joseph, along with his brothers and their generation died, a new pharaoh came into power in Egypt. Unlike His predecessor, He did not know about Joseph or the agreement that was made between the Egyptians and Hebrew people. Fearing that they would one day side with his enemies because of their growing numbers, this new pharaoh decided to oppress the Israelites.
The Egyptians treated them cruelly, forcing the Israelites to do hard labor. But, it seemed as if every time the taskmasters cracked their whips, another Hebrew child was born. God continued to bless His people in the midst of great persecution. Truly, He was keeping His promise to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob that He would make them into a great nation. Of course, this apparent blessing incensed Pharaoh at the time. So, he ordered the midwives to the Hebrews to kill every boy they help deliver. The ones who were the first to greet babies from the womb would now meet them with death.
Now, the story could have ended here. The midwives could have carried out Pharaoh’s orders like they were instructed, but they didn’t. Instead, they kept on delivering and sparing both the girls and boys. Why did they do this? Did they not fear the wrath of Pharaoh? I am sure they did to some extent. But, the Bible says they also feared God. And who is Pharaoh compared to God? These midwives knew that killing these newborn baby boys was wrong. God, then, confirmed that the midwives had done the right thing by blessing them with families of their own. It is said that if you were a midwife in Egypt at this time, it usually meant that you were not able to have children of your own. God showed them the good that comes from fearing Him.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to honor and obey the governing authorities because they have been established by God for His purposes (Romans 13:1). However, if the government passes a law or makes a decree that defies God and His Word, we must obey Him first. We see in the last verse of chapter one that Pharaoh did not give up on his plan. He ordered every Hebrew male son to be thrown into the crocodile infested waters of the Nile.
Perhaps you are thinking to yourself: “Couldn’t this all have been avoided? Why didn’t the midwives just do what Pharaoh asked? Surely, God would understand.”
If we learned anything from Joseph’s life it’s that God can use what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good (Genesis 50:20). And if you simply turn the page of your Bible to Exodus chapter 2, you see that He was doing that again. We can’t let the threats or even horrific actions of “pharaohs” dictate our personal obedience towards God. Like the midwives, we must do what’s right. We must serve God and Him alone. While God may have used Pharaoh’s evil actions for His purposes, He would not let Pharaoh’s sin go unpunished. This is the book of Exodus, after all…