Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Obeying God in the Hard Places

“But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.”  Exodus 1:17
Have you ever wondered what might have been going through the minds of  Shiphrah and Puah  on that awful day  when  they were summoned by the king of Egypt?   Here were  two ordinary  God fearing women  dedicated to the care of mothers and their new infants  who suddenly  found  themselves  in  the presence of  their people’s  bête noir.
Since they are the only women named,  Shiphrah and Puah  may have been in charge of  all the midwives in the burgeoning population of Hebrews.   Imagine how overwhelmed with anguish they must have been upon receiving  Pharaoh's command,
When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him.” Ex.1:16
Knowing rebellion would spell disaster for them and perhaps even for those working under them,   the midwives  must have had to think fast before the next baby arrived.     Their fear of God outweighed any fear of retribution the king might impose on them because  they refused  to comply  with the diabolical decree.    When they  were  subpoenaed for interrogation  as to why they had allowed  the babies to  live,  the women shrewdly convinced Pharaoh  that the Hebrew women were a hearty lot who gave  birth before the midwives could arrive.    Satisfied with their answer, the king moved to Plan B,  insisting that every newborn Hebrew boy be cast into the Nile.
Pharaoh’s relentless persecution of God’s people proved  completely unsuccessful however,  because  instead of dwindling  their population the Hebrews  continued to increase,  just as  God  had promised Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).     Furthermore, the Lord rewarded  Shiphrah and Puah’s fear of God.
“So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Ex. 1:20-21
God’s predetermined purposes could not be thwarted by the evil machinations of this or  any other ruler.     The Pharaohs who reigned in  Moses’ day were under the same sovereign directive that our presidents and governments are under today.   Whether good or evil,  those in places of  civil authority are instruments  in the Lord's hands to display His sovereignty  and power and to bring glory to Himself.  
“For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” Romans 9:17-18
In these troubling times  when we  become  disheartened by  those ruling over us,   it is good  to know  “The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;  He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Proverbs 21:1.    Most of us here in the West have never faced serious persecution  for obeying Christ,  but that  may change as the freedom to exercise our religious convictions are restricted.
Historically God’s people have thrived under persecution,  and we see this happening today in places like the  underground church in China.    And  last week’s Voice of the Martyrs email read:
“‘What we’re seeing around the world is really a gospel wildfire.’ … ‘We’re seeing the gospel go forward like never before in the history of the church.’
One of the five keys to the gospel’s unparalleled movement is persecution, which Jonathan says, is the “accelerant” for the wildfire.    The church is persecuted,  but it is thriving and expanding in the world’s most dangerous places.”
The Lord’s return is imminent but until that day  He is still in the process of  building and sanctifying  His people.    If our faith should  be put to an extreme test some day I  pray the Lord will give us the kind of courage  these two ordinary women had.

Addendum:  “How Will Persecution Affect the Church in the US?” (excerpt)  by John MacArthur.   3 min. 37 sec


No comments:

Post a Comment