These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy[a in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.’
11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 ‘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 a girl, let her live.’ 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, ‘Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?’
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, ‘Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.’
20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’
Our duty as followers of Jesus in this world is to fear God more than the king (government) or the culture of selfish convenience. In God’s word we are instructed to honour the king (1 Peter 2:17). But what do we do when the instructions of the king are opposed to the word of God? For example, in Exodus 1, the king gives instructions to the midwives to kill all baby boys. This is clearly against God’s moral law which forbids murder (Exodus 20:13). The midwives feared God more than the king, and deliberately and bravely defied the king and let the babies live.
In South Africa the killing of babies in the womb has been legal since 1996 with abortion on demand up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. This has lead to genocide. A full-term pregnancy is about 39 weeks, although a premature baby can survive after 23 weeks. (I personally survived being born shortly after 26 weeks pregnancy.) A baby in the womb is a person, not just a foetus or something sub-human. The fact is that a human baby’s heart starts to beat at just 3 weeks – which is evidence of God-given life.
Is this an uncomfortable subject? Yes. But we must take a stand for the things that please or anger God.
See how God honoured and rewarded those midwives who feared Him and protected Israel. He gave them their own families with children – because children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Isn’t it interesting that we know the names of these two brave women (Shiphrah and Puah)? God honours those who honour Him (1 Samuel 2:30).
Heavenly Father, please give us the courage to speak up and to fight for the rights of unborn humans who are created in Your image. Thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.