I hear many people who say they are born again say that they don’t hear God and they haven’t a clue as to what God is doing in their lives or in the world around them. My first question would be to ask them how much time they are spending reading God’s Word and talking with Him? If it is no more than maybe a Sunday service that is a problem. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9 emphasis mine)
Today I’d like us to take a look at some women you may have easily overlooked. Even though these women didn’t have the written Word, they had FAITH! They had family testimonies that witnessed God’s miracles. They were heirs to the promises of God and they chose to enter into those promises. Let’s read the Scripture to fully understand the background and open our hearts to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. “Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. ‘Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.’ So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.” (Exodus 1:6-14 emphasis mine) I have underlined the phrase “let us deal wisely with them” so that we can see the outright deception of the enemy, he says one thing but does the complete opposite. If we are not wholly submitted to the Lord and His leading in our lives, we will be as the Israelites and become imprisoned to a life of slavery because we are not spiritually alert and listening to the Holy Spirit! There is no logic or reason to think that if you impose hard labor and punishment on a person that they would become loyal servants to you. You have made them slaves and by the harsh treatment you have produced hatred and resentment. That is, if you are rightly aligned with the Holy Spirit. If you are not, the enemy has great control over your mind and you begin to justify, just as the Israelites did, “at least we have food on our tables and a good house to live”. Can you realize the folly and deception in that? Take some time here to reflect on this, go back and read the Scriptures then allow the Holy Spirit to unveil any areas in your own life where you may have allowed the enemy in. I would be remiss if I did not point out God’s faithfulness through all of these trials. God was always with them but they always weren’t in harmony and obedience with God. Like us, they had a choice as to how they would respond. The major thing that is missing here is worship! Did you notice? God was doing His part but nowhere do we hear that they were worshipping Him in the midst of their tribulation. There are times when we read the Scriptures that we learn a great lesson by what is not being said. Hopefully that will challenge us to allow the Holy Spirit to show us how we are responding to the circumstances of our lives.
Let’s do a short summary to lead us to the circumstances they are now facing. Jacob’s son Joseph was hated by his brothers because they were jealous. Joseph received dreams and would share them with his brothers which just made them more jealous than they already were because he was their father’s “favorite”. He was the beloved son of Jacob’s wife Rachel. So when Jacob sent Joseph out to check on his brothers who were out shepherding their flock the brothers threw him into a pit then instead of killing him, as was their original idea, they sold him to slave traders and he ended up in the house of Potiphar in Egypt. Because of false accusations from Potiphar’s wife he was then put into prison. But God’s hand was upon Joseph and he prospered no matter his circumstances. He continued to worship God in spite of his circumstances. My dear friends, can that be said of you? This question is the question the Holy Spirit will be asking each of us as we continue in this study.
The Pharaoh experienced very unsettling dreams and Joseph was the only one who was able to interrupt them but he made it clear to Pharaoh that God was making the dreams known so that Pharaoh would know that He was the true God. Joseph was elevated to the highest position in the land, only Pharaoh was higher. Pharaoh put all things into Joseph’s care. So Joseph had storehouses built to prepare for a famine which would last for seven years. It was because of the famine that Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain for food, and eventually, learn that their brother Joseph was the ruler. With Pharaoh’s permission all of Joseph’s family were brought to Egypt and given the choicest of land, the land of Goshen. And there they prospered greatly for almost four hundred years.
This is where we begin with our text from Exodus 1. They are in a foreign land and have become enslaved. Did this happen overnight? It did not. It increasingly got worse and worse. But they continued to prosper in number which was causing a panic among the Egyptian leadership! They feared the Israelites! That in itself is very interesting. The Israelites were not violent people, they didn’t have an army, they didn’t have chariots, they didn’t have weapons. So why were the Egyptians so fearful? For the same reason people are fearful today. When they can’t explain why something is happening they attack it. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad. If it doesn’t fit their paradigm they do everything in their power to destroy it. And that is exactly what the Egyptians set out to do, destroy the Israelites not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. Do you see the parallel to what is happening in the world today to believers? There is only one great distinction which needs to be pointed out at this point.
In the more prosperous countries of the world there is a steady growing hatred of fundamental Christian beliefs, specifically the Word of God as it is written. For many years now there are many who have taken it upon themselves to write a “new version”. They claim that the purpose is to make the language more “user friendly”, easier to understand. Unfortunately that is deceptive. What they have done is taken the Word of God and twisted it to convey their interpretation which is different from what was originally written. Some translations intentionally downplay the deity of Jesus Christ! I will not go into all the differences but this one example should challenge you to search out the truth and see if your translation is leading you astray. In the more progressive and prosperous countries the “sheep” are easily lead astray and have turned away from the Word of God and turned toward idols and false teachings. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,” (2 Timothy 4:3) So in these countries, those who are God’s children are actually decreasing in numbers! But in the more underprivileged and undeveloped countries they know the evil that has kept them oppressed and many are searching for truth and they are receiving Christ in record numbers! They are being delivered and begin living in the present, the reality of the Kingdom life! They do so knowing that this can easily be a death trap, they may very well be killed because of their faith. But they have met the One and only Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and have placed their lives in His hands. They too, like the Israelites, are growing in number under the affliction of the enemy. That my dear friend should stop us to reflect on our faith. It’s easy to “have faith” when there is no persecution, but that is NOT faith. Faith is exercised when confronted with challenges that cannot be solved properly by human strength. The answer must come from above.
The pharaoh didn’t stop just with inflicting more manual labor upon the workers. “Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live”. (Exodus 1:15-17) Shiphrah and Puah were ordered to kill all the male children that were being born! These two women were not unknown and secretly birthing the babies and hiding them. They were known by the pharaoh and singled out to carry out his edict! What do you suppose happened to the people who deliberately disobeyed the ruler? Think about it a minute. What would you do? What did these two women do? “But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live”.
I believe that they had a heart for God and knew that disobedience to Him meant eternal separation from Him. No, works were not the criteria for salvation, but the works that are done BECAUSE of our obedience reveal the condition of our hearts. These women knew that the lives of each child was important to God and to them. Killing and murder were not God’s character!
The Apostle Paul confirms this in his letter to the Philippians, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;” (Philippians 3:10-15 emphasis mine) We understand Paul to be saying that as many are mature they are in proper alignment and agreement with God’s Word.
As I read the next Scriptures I almost wanted to laugh. Why? When God is in control and He is defending us, our words don’t always need to make a logical argument and win someone over. “So the of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.’” (Exodus 1:18-19 emphasis mine) Could this possibly the truth with every birth? Not likely. And the pharaoh could have easily taken an offense to their reasoning. More so, I would expect him to be highly angry toward the women and bring punishment upon them. But he didn’t! He just made another plan for revenge against the Israelites but he did not harm the midwives! And what was God’s response? “So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.” (Exodus 1:20 emphasis mine) “Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.” (Exodus 1:21 emphasis mine)
My dear friends I believe we need to stop at this point because the Lord has given us much to ponder on. We are living in a world of deception and violence and are facing much the same challenges as we are reading in today’s devotion. Can you see it? And, more importantly, are you in right alignment with God’s Word or have you turned your back to God’s Word?
Abba Father, I love You with all my heart! Your message today is both difficult and uplifting. It is difficult because it challenges us to evaluate whether or not we are walking in accordance with Your Word and not in accordance with the deception and lies of the enemy. It is uplifting because it reminds us of Your great love and protection over us. You told the apostles that they would be hated and brought before the judges, these weren’t the government judges, these were the very people who were supposed to be teaching Your Word! They would persecute them and kill them for preaching the whole truth! Yet, You told them not to worry about their defense because when they opened their mouths You would give them the words to speak. Thank You that You never leave us or forsake. Many are standing on a dangerous precipice today and I pray that they would cry out to You and listen and turn from the path of destruction. This I pray through the blessed name of Your Son, Jesus Christ! Amen.