After Joseph, the Hebrew slave turned respected Egyptian leader, died, the people of God remained living in Egypt. Exodus 1 tells us they grew strong and multiplied greatly just like God had promised their ancestor, Abraham. In fact, from the time God made his covenant promise to Abraham to the time he delivered them out of Egypt was 430 years. The first 215 years saw an increase to only 70 men. The second half of that time – the time they spent in Egypt – the men multiplied to 600, 000. This was good news for God’s people but the Egyptians saw it as very bad news.
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. ~Exodus 1:12-13
Fulfillment of God’s promises to his people cause the ungodly to fear. Their solution is persecution. Nevertheless, God’s will frustrates human efforts no matter how powerful, forceful, or barbaric they may be.
Just like today, we see here that evil, corrupt rulers, leaders, and governments purpose to paint God’s people as dangerous, untrustworthy, and disobedient to common law so they might have some pretense for the wicked, unjust treatment they deal to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Furthermore, as if the enslavement wasn’t enough, the Egyptian king was so terrified of losing ground to the ever more numerous Hebrew people that he resorted to genocide. Not just genocide though, infanticide. The king of Egypt so feared losing his position and power that he gave orders to kill all the male Hebrew babies.
Not much has changed after all these years, has it? Fear of losing control over one’s life – an imaginary commodity, by the way, that no one possesses apart from God’s allowance – and personal power and position has always been the driving force and greatest temptation used by Satan to encourage and accomplish murder through infanticide. The only difference is that now not only are the powers that be seeking children’s lives, mothers, too, in their fear and cult of individualism and false freedom are as well.
Yet here, in the midst of such great evil, still, we find great blessing. Consider verses 16-17, 21.
“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.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live…And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”
And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Because the midwives feared God more than they feared man, he blessed them. Because they blessed his people, he blessed them. Where evil rulers seek to make others just as evil as they, God seeks to bless those who refuse to do harm on account of him.
“Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” ~Exodus 1:22
The Hebrew babies still died. Egypt’s king gave a new order to cast every baby boy into the river. But the midwives had no part. Here, the Lord shows us that though evil may indeed prevail for a time here on earth, it does not have to prevail through us. It is better to risk our lives avoiding evil than to obey evil men and seek to save ourselves.