What Lies Ahead
Almighty God, and my Father, Your greatness demands my praise and Your love demands my devotion. I gladly give them.
Read Exodus 1:1-22
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Through all the changing scenes of life, / in trouble and in joy, / the praises of my God shall still / my heart and tongue employ” (N. Tate / N. Brady).
This reading starts with Jacob’s descendants enjoying a prosperous life in Egypt. Did they expect this to continue, benefiting from the security of sympathetic rulers? Yet, they were not where God intended them to be, in the land of promise. A change of dynasty brought dramatic reversal, with “a brutalizing public policy that is … all for reasons of state” (W. Brueggemann). Paradoxically, this was to be the path forward into God’s purposes for his people.
The opening (1-14) sets the scene for a story of two unexpected heroines, Shiprah and Puah, the first people named in the story of the exodus. They were not afraid of Pharaoh because “they feared God” (17), and God honored them (20,21). Humanly speaking, what could two midwives do against the might of a despotic Pharaoh and his officials? Much, when it is action trusting God! Today the media will be analyzing the “big picture” of events in the world—economic and political developments, climate change, ethnic and national conflicts, religious diversity, poverty and disease. These are contexts in which to exercise obedient, daring trust that follows the way of Christ and truly makes a difference. The midwives’ actions are an encouragement for risk-taking individuals who call the bluff of today’s Pharaohs, who do not fear them because they fear God and see the bigger picture. Can you imagine the midwives laughing inside as they reply to Pharaoh (19)? Humor has a way of putting false, pretentious power into perspective. The concluding verse of the psalm paraphrase quoted above is appropriate: “Fear him, ye saints, and you will then / have nothing else to fear; / make you his service your delight; / your wants shall be his care” (Isa. 8:12-13).
Are there difficult, even oppressive situations in which God is calling you to act in fearless trust? If so, pray for wisdom and courage to begin.
Lord, I confess that it is so easy for me to go along to get along. Empower me to stand firm for You whenever the circumstances demand it.
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