The trouble for Israel began when a new king arose, a king who didn’t recognize Joseph as the national hero he had been for Egypt as it faced the worst famine of its history.
Four hundred years had multiplied the seventy Israelite souls in Goshen to some two million people. The friendly, protective, pro-Israel kings had been dethroned by oppressive Pharaohs who were afraid that Israel would ally itself with some powerful foe in overthrowing the Egyptian dynasty. The solution for this royal insecurity was to crush the spirit of Israel using drastic tactics of oppression.
One of the king’s first ideas was to do his oppressive dirty work through the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. These two busy ladies had undoubtedly shared the joy of birth with scores of Hebrew families. They were keenly aware of God’s amazing phenomenon of birth. Imagine the terror that struck them as they appeared before the Pharaoh, arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time, and heard him say…
When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.
No doubt they exchanged horrified glances. Perhaps they thought of dear friends who were expecting babies. Perhaps they recalled precious newborn infants they had washed and wrapped in recent days. Whatever they were thinking, scriptures give us no reason to believe they were thinking about obeying the king. Notice verse 17:
But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.
There are so many forces that I fear in our volatile society. I fear the force of Satan in the world in which my children will be raising my grandchildren. I fear the influence of my children’s peers. I fear in smaller ways when I walk to my car as I leave the mall at night. I fear stock market recessions, tornadoes, and people with raging tempers. Unfortunately, even children have been forced to deal with the fear of terrorism in recent times.
The Pharaoh of Exodus chapter one was a terrorist. Shiphrah and Puah were human. Of course they feared the power of the ruthless dictator. But they feared God.
The fear of God was not a terrifying sensation of being afraid. It was a deep respect for and awe of His power and majesty. Shiphrah and Puah were motivated by faith to preserve the children. There are potent lessons for those who fear God today.
We Must Preserve the Children
Abortion has claimed about 1.5 million lives per year since its legalization in 1973. In 1973, from a room in which several men in black robes debated life itself, a ruling emerged in the Roe vs. Wade case that stripped all rights from pre-born individuals. Since that time, we’ve learned that within a pre-born baby, all genetic material is complete at conception. We’ve gained access to technology that allows us to see within the womb. We now know that only 22 days after conception a baby’s heart beats. At 6 weeks brain waves can be detected.. At 8 weeks every organ is in place. At 11 weeks the infant has fingerprints, a skeletal structure, a circulatory system and nerves. Babies can experience pain at 12 weeks. All of this happens in the first trimester!
We know that abortion stops a beating heart. How could any Christian woman, a woman who fears God, get her heart’s consent to take human infant life? Shiphrah and Puah could not.
There are lots of methods of abortion There’s suction abortion, in which the infant is dismembered and then vacuumed from the womb. There’s saline poisoning, in which the baby is forced to ingest a salt solution and begins to strangle and then dies, over an hour later, of acute salt poisoning. Today there are chemical abortions like the RU486 pill.
Consider for a moment the process known as partial birth abortion. Studies show that, as of this writing, only 25% of Americans are familiar with the process of partial birth abortion. Take a moment to contemplate this process that occurs daily in America.
A baby has developed almost or even altogether completely within a mother’s womb. Partial birth abortions are only performed when the pregnancy has progressed past the twentieth week of gestation. (Recall how complete the anatomy is within the first 12 weeks.) Generally, all is physically well with both mother and child. The process of birth has actually begun. In many cases, the baby has been positioned so that tiny feet first emerge and little legs start to feel cool air for the first time. Then tiny fingers flex as they exit the canal and feel the cold air outside the womb. Then the doctor grasps the tiny body and positions the base of the baby’s head so that he can insert a sharp instrument into the head at the base of the skull. As the stabbing occurs, the brain deflates, the skull collapses and the dead baby is pulled from the womb.
As of this writing, this procedure is routinely occurring in our United States every day. Twice in the last few years our legislators have passed legislation banning partial birth abortion only to have that legislation vetoed by a pro-abortion president. At last, the legislation to stop this process has been signed by President George W. Bush. But lawsuits are occurring in all states that are effectively nullifying the ban on this life saving legislation. It is as if thousands of innocent lives are struggling to make their way silently through the court systems of our lands until finally our Supreme Court will decide their fate. Christian women must be a voice for these lives. Those who fear God know that he is the One who covers life in the womb (Psa.139:13). He is the one who forms pre-born life (Is.44:2). Our voices can be heard when we write or call our legislators, when we write letters to news editors, when we support with time and money pro-life organizations such as National Right to Life with its local chapters,. Our most powerful voice is the one we raise in prayer.
If we fear God we will preserve life.