38 - Birth Pains
February 7 - Nº 38 Exodus 1
For generations, Israel’s descendants (also called Hebrews) grew and multiplied in Egypt. They were safe there because the Egyptians remembered all that Joseph had done for them. From his humble beginnings as a Hebrew slave, he had risen to power and saved them from starvation. Because of his wisdom and faith in God, they had become the most powerful nation in the world during a devastating famine. But suddenly things changed. There was a new Pharaoh who did not know or appreciate the incredible things that Joseph had done for his nation. He was concerned that the Hebrew population had grown so large so quickly that they could now overthrow the Egyptian government if they desired. He had to stop them. So, instead of protecting the Israelites, he forced them to become his slaves. Some of the Hebrews were assigned to work in his fields, while others had to make bricks and mortar and build two large cities where the paranoid ruler could store his wealth. It was extremely hard labor, and the slave masters were very cruel. However, this massive oppression did not slow the Hebrew population growth as Pharaoh had hoped it would. So, he implemented Plan B. He commanded Shiphrah and Puah (the two chief midwives for the Hebrew people) to kill all the male babies as they were being born. (He probably wanted them to do this secretly, so the parents would think their new babies were stillborn or had died of natural causes.) But the midwives refused. They understood the value God placed on human life. They would not let Pharaoh’s command supersede God’s law. They knew it was more important to please God than to obey a man—even if it meant losing their own lives. So, the population kept growing and Hebrew boys kept being born. Pharaoh called the midwives to the palace—he wanted to know why his plan wasn’t working. The midwives explained that the Hebrew women gave birth much more quickly than the Egyptian women did. Before they could get to the women who were in labor, the babies were born. (This was probably true—but no doubt the midwives were not in any rush to get there on time!) Because of their brave decision, God protected Shiphrah and Puah from Pharaoh’s wrath. Then He blessed them. Midwives during those times were often women who were unable to have children, but God gave them families of their own. Still Pharaoh would not quit. He wrote a new law: Anyone who saw a newborn Hebrew boy was obligated to throw that baby into the Nile River so it would drown. If they did not comply, there would be serious consequences. With this command, Pharaoh was not only ridding the land of future Hebrews, but he was also offering the ultimate sacrifice to the gods he worshiped. He was sacrificing a child to the “gods” of the “sacred” Nile River. Satan was hard at work. By prompting Pharaoh to exterminate the male population, he was obviously trying to destroy the Hebrew nation before it could ever give birth to Jesus, the Messiah.
Are you willing to obey God despite the consequences? Are you willing to trust Him when your friendships and future (and maybe even your life) are on the line? God blesses us and uses our obedience in amazing ways!