BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: ‘When you help the Hebrew women give birth, kill all the boys as soon as they are born. Allow only the baby girls to live.’ But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king and allowed the boys to live, too. Then the king called for the midwives. ‘Why have you done this?’ he demanded. ‘Why have you allowed the boys to live?’ ‘Sir,’ they told him, ‘the Hebrew women are very strong. They have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time! They are not slow in giving birth like Egyptian women.’ So God blessed the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own’” (Exodus 1:15-21 NLT).
Verses 8-14 provide a background to the passage you have just read. After Joseph and his brothers had died, their descendants began to multiply such that there came a king to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He told his people that the Israelites were becoming a threat to Egypt because of their population. He felt that if a solution wasn’t found, they might support Egyptians’ enemies in the event of war and then escape from the country. So the Egyptians put them to forced labour but the more they oppressed them, the more quickly the Israelites multiplied thus making the Egyptians more ruthless to the Israelites.
As a further measure to drastically reduce the alarming and intimidating population of the Israelites, the king ordered the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who obviously were Egyptians, to ensure that when helping the Hebrew women to give birth, they should kill all the boys as soon as they were born – that was the exact opposite of their job and a wicked directive against innocent children.
Pharaoh’s order was as wicked as the order Herod gave that all male children in Bethlehem and its districts, from two years old and under, be killed hoping Jesus would be killed in the process. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 NKJV).
Because Herod wanted to protect his throne from the born ‘King of the Jews’ whom he saw as a rival, he got several children killed but he missed Jesus. Imagine the number of children that must have been killed because of one child – Jesus! There was much wailing and agony in the territory under Herod’s authority because of this evil act.
This tyrant was a blood thirsty king who not only didn’t have any regard for the sanctity of lives of others including children but had no regard for the lives of his own family members. History says that this Herod murdered his wife, Mariamne, and when his two sons from that marriage, Alexander and Aristobulus, discovered that he was responsible for their mother’s death, he killed them also. So one can understand that he could, without any compassion, order the killing of several children just because he wanted Jesus killed knowing that he (Herod) had no legal right to that throne. He was an Idumean by descent, and the Idumeans were Edomites, the descendants of Esau. So Herod was insecure.
Pharaoh’s hit men and the Hebrew midwives
But the point central to this message is that Herod had people who undertook his heartless killings including the killing of children in Bethlehem and environs. These killers obeyed him. They were unlike the midwives in Egypt we read about who refused to carry out the wicked instruction of Pharaoh to kill newly born boys who were Jews. They had no faith to confront the king and tell him that his order was callous so they had to lie to Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were very strong so they had their babies so quickly that they could not get there in time to midwife them and kill the male boys. They were unbelievers so they could lie! (That’s not a reason for you to lie.)
Compare the action of this women to the action of all those that Herod used to perpetrate all the killings that he ordered. The Bible says because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own. They feared God but Pharaoh didn’t fear God. Do you fear God? Or is it human beings you fear?
God always rewards those who fear Him and stand for what is right. They may not get all the reward here on earth and sometimes it may seem some didn’t get any reward before they died but God won’t forget their good deeds. The Lord says, “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds” (Revelation 22:12). The real reward is in eternity.
Though the midwives refused to do Pharaoh’s bidding, he didn’t give up. He looked for another means to get rid of the newly born Hebrew boys. “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Throw all the newborn Israelite boys into the Nile River. But you may spare the baby girls’” (Exodus 1:22 NLT). He possibly got some people to do this dirty job for him this time round.
In 1 Samuel 22, we see the wickedness of Saul who ordered the killing of the 85 priests of Nob and the destruction of that city because of David that he wanted to kill but Ahimelech, the priest, consulted for. Verse 17 says, “And he ordered his bodyguards, ‘Kill these priests of the LORD, for they are allies and conspirators with David! They knew he was running away from me, but they didn’t tell me!’ But Saul’s men refused to kill the LORD’s priests” (NLT). Did you see that?
On this occasion, Saul’s men were God-fearing; Saul wasn’t. They refused to carry out the order of the king to kill the priests of God. But Saul’s informant was ready to do this evil work. “Then the king said to Doeg, ‘You do it.’ So Doeg turned on them and killed them, eighty-five priests in all, all still wearing their priestly tunics. Then he went to Nob, the city of the priests, and killed the priests’ families — men and women, children and babies, and all the cattle, donkeys, and sheep” (1 Samuel 22:18-19 NLT). Wicked people will always find allies. Doeg made himself available for the evil work which Saul’s men refrained from doing. Who are you going to emulate? Doeg or Saul’s men? Don’t be available for evil or satanic assignments.
Don’t obey ungodly instructions
It is true that you are to submit to the authorities. “Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience” (Romans 13:1-5 NLT). But submitting to or obeying authorities is to the extent that the authorities themselves submit to the Highest Authority (God)!
Any order, instruction or law that runs contrary to that of God must not be obeyed. You must stand for only what is right. That was what those Egyptian midwives did. That was also what Peter and the other apostles did. “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). That was what the three Hebrews did – they refused to bow down for the king’s idol – and God preserved them in the burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:16-30).
Daniel stood for what was right when he chose to pray to God disobeying the king’s decree that for the next thirty days anyone who prayed to anyone, divine or human, except the king, would be thrown to the lions. He prayed to God as he had always done prior to the decree and was thrown to the lions’ den but God delivered him (Daniel 6:4-27).
Mordecai refused to bow to Hamman – he disobeyed the king’s order at the risk of his life. But the Lord promoted Mordecai and humiliated Hamman and Mordecai eventually saw his enemy’s end (Esther 3:2-6).
Esther disregarded the tradition and appeared before the king. She risked her life and the Lord preserved him. She found the king’s favour and she wasn’t killed (Esther 4, 5:1-2).
The Bible testifies about Jesus: “You love what is right and hate what is wrong. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else” (Hebrews 1:9 NLT). What is the testimony about you? The Knox Translation renders that verse thus: “Thou hast been a friend to right, and enemy to wrong…” Do you love what is right and hate what is wrong? Love for righteousness and hatred for lawlessness will release more anointing on you. You can’t continue in sin and expect that grace will abound (Romans 6:1).
Stand for what is right
In the office, business, government, family etc. standing for what is right should be your resolve. Don’t say your hands are tied. If they tie your hands, untie them! Let nobody coerce you to do what is wrong. God’s Word should be the final authority in your life. Don’t respect man’s opinion, suggestion, and advice above God’s Word. Don’t do what is wrong because of fear of men; don’t compromise because of respect of persons. Don’t listen to the ungodly advice and words of your friend. Don’t join the multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2).
Obey God, and your life and destiny shall be preserved. God says, “If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat” (Isaiah1:19 NLT). Job 36:11 says, “If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant” (NLT). Stand for what is right!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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