Summary: Sometimes we have to stand up for what's right. We need to remember that God knows our plight, we need to fear God above people, and we need to humbly take a stand. The Hebrew midwives in Egypt stood up to Pharaoh, and God remembered them for it.
Standing Up for What’s Right
Recently I watched the movie, “Hacksaw Ridge.” It documents the true story of Private First Class Desmond Doss, who enlisted as an Army medic during World War II, but refused for religious reasons to carry a weapon. Spoiler alert: despite ridicule, persecution, and pressure to accept a discharge, Doss prevailed. He eventually deployed to Okinawa where, on Hacksaw Ridge, he ended up saving the lives of over 75 fallen soldiers. His prayer rang throughout the night, “Lord, please help me get one more.” Doss became the first soldier to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor without ever having fired a shot!
Somehow Doss knew, while it might be fine for others to fight for what was right, it was not okay for him. He was to be a medic, helping save those who fought. And against pressures all around, he stood up for his God-given mission. In the end, God—and America—rewarded him for it.
Sometimes we have to stand up for what’s right. It may be a big thing, like for Desmond Doss, or it may be a relatively minor thing, like quelling gossip about another person. Today’s story contains a big challenge, to face down oppression and infanticide on a grand scale. Just a few weeks ago, we looked at how the young Hebrew man Joseph had saved Egypt and the world during a terrible drought. Now a pharaoh had come along who didn’t remember Joseph. Even more, he considered the rapidly growing nation of Israel as a threat. If you do the math, Israel had doubled in size every 25 years. Over 430 years, it grew from a family of 70 to a nation of around 3 million! God was keeping his promise to the patriarch Abraham, to give him as many descendants as the sand on the seashore.
Yet, now the nation was threatened. Slave labor didn’t stop the growth rate, so Pharaoh decided to try infanticide. But two women stood him down. (By the way, did you hear about the hospital in town that was running out of maternity nurses? They called it a “mid-wife crisis!”) Out of today’s “midwife crisis,” I want to suggest three actions, whenever you need to take a stand for what’s right. First,
1. Know that God knows.
Nothing catches God by surprise. I can imagine the Israelites, over 400 years of slavery, had wondered if God had forgotten about them or was unaware of their plight. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of years before Joseph’s birth, God gave Abraham the great promise of a nation and land and a blessing. But along with it, God forewarned, in Genesis 15:13-14, saying, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”
God knew in advance everything they would face. There is no Plan B with God. Somehow, he brings it all together for his master plan, no matter how painful it might be for a time. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” God is at work! Perhaps his promise to Abraham brought encouragement to those awaiting delivery.
Nothing catches God by surprise. He’s not up in heaven saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” He knows every natural tragedy, including the flooding going on right now in our state. And he knows every sinful action, when people hurt others. When you’re in a tough spot, please know that God knows and God cares.
Secondly, if you want courage to do the right thing, you need to ...
2. Fear God more than people.
This one mindset will give you the fortitude to do what it takes, regardless of the cost. Desperate times call for desperate measures, which might explain why the midwives lied. (“They just pop out those babies before we can even get there!”) I would only hope I could act as courageously as they did. I hope I could do the right thing to stand up against evil. The key to their courage is found in verse 17: “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.”
So, what does it mean to fear God? It doesn’t mean to be afraid of him so much as it means to be in awe of him. What if we cared more about what God thought than what our neighbor or best friend thought? To fear God means to listen to him, to obey him, to do what he says. When it came to a conflict between what Pharaoh wanted and what God wanted, there was no contest. These ladies had to obey God over man, even if it jeopardized their own lives.