It is so easy to read the Bible regularly and suddenly notice something that really you had seen all along, yet it hits you in a whole new way, than it has before. Usually when we think of rebels it isn’t with great admiration for their stance. We can become so accustomed to going along to get along that any one who refuses to do so and takes a firm stand for what is right, seems out of step to us.
In the first chapter of Exodus, the Israelites have been in Egyptian bondage for a long time. They have been in Egypt for over 300 years now and we aren’t sure at what point leaders arose who didn’t know Joseph or appreciate what he had done for Egypt. But somewhere down the line the Israelite nation was growing so rapidly that their numbers frightened the Egyptians and the rulers sought for ways to stop their massive growth. It started with slavery that turned into brutality to try to wear them down. When they kept right on growing in the midst of such, the Pharaoh made the decision to murder all the boy babies that were born in the land. There were two well-known midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah. The king of Egypt met with them and said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is girl, let her live.” “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let he boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, ‘Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?’ The midwives answered Pharaoh, ‘Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive. So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous” (Exodus 1:15-21)
This story will continue and tell of Moses birth and how his mother hide him for three months before putting him out into the Nile River in a basket where some of the Princess of Egypt’s servants saw him and rescued him. From the time of the birth of Moses until God delivered them from the Egyptian bondage would be 80 more years.
But I want to focus on the midwives. We are given their names, but really know very little beyond that about them. We aren’t even told if they were Hebrew women themselves or if they may have been Egyptian women who had come to know and fear God. What we know is that they were living very busy lives delivering babies among the Israelites who were growing with God’s blessing all the time. Imagine being in their shoes for a little while. They don’t have high standing in the country. They are great servants but like the doctor who delivers babies today they were not likely well known personally and seldom appreciated for the work they were doing. It must have been an honor for these working women to be called to come before the king of the whole land. Under such circumstances most would want to agree with the king and simply honor him by doing whatever he said to do. However, these women feared God! That one thing changed their whole outlook on life. It changed their sense of mission. It led them to put being obedient to God so far above obeying the king of Egypt that there was no comparison in their minds.
I don’t know if they had to think about it or talked about the whole thing on their way home. I don’t know if they went home to talk with family and friends about what had been asked of them or if their faith was so secure in God that it didn’t even take any such conversation for them to know what they had to do. Fearing God and obeying God always go hand in hand. They knew the Israelites were the people of God and that he was blessing them by the growth in numbers. So, instead of saying to the king, “Sir, we respect you as king, but we have a higher ruler in our lives. We worship the God who made the worlds and everything in it and as a result we cannot do that which would be abominable in His sight.” Instead of making any speech about why or what they would do, they simply went on their way and refused to obey the Egyptian rulers. They helped mothers give birth and spared the lives of both the little boys and little girls.
I’m sure they knew there was coming a time when they would be called to give an accounting of how they had failed to obey the king. But they chose to do right and face the consequences later. Of course the king called them to asked what was going on. The boy babies were still being born. Had they not obeyed his command? They explained that the Hebrew women were different from Egyptian women. They were vigorous and would often give birth before they could even get there. SO, God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.”
Focus on the word, “SO”. So God was kind to the midwives.” Obviously he was very pleased with their actions. Yet they had disobeyed the laws of the land. It illustrates this fact, while obeying the civil laws is important, obeying God is far, far more important. They didn’t need to carry banners declaring their actions. They didn’t have to lead any marches against the authorities of the land. They simply did what God led them to do and didn’t make a big scene out of it.
Even though they disobeyed the law of the land, even though they didn’t tell what was exactly true to the king with regard to the women giving birth before they could arrive, God blessed them and appreciated what they had done. God is concerned about heart, motives and the will to do what He wants us to do. There may be times in life when it will be necessary to disobey the laws of the land to please God and obey His laws. There may be a time when it is all right to not tell the whole truth on a matter to show honor to God above all else. These ladies were truly godly rebels and we are always in great need of more such ladies all the time.