The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. (Exodus 1:15-17 NIV)
God shows his power and finesse in this part of the story. The most powerful ruler in the world gives an order that two Hebrew midwives defy. It easily could have resulted in death.
They feared the Lord more than they feared Pharaoh. What would you have done?
What does it mean to fear the Lord? I think these beautiful ladies show us very well.
It includes respect for authority and power. There is a great sense of awe in it. So much so that one is moved to worship.
There is also legitimate fear involved.
This last part (legitimate fear) is the part that gives people trouble. They think, "We shouldn't be afraid of God, should we?" And I can see why they'd ask. But I think the answer is, "Yes. It's good to be afraid of God." As long as you realize that he's also the omni-benevolent, holy God of the Bible. Yes, it's good to fear him.
Just like a young child fears her good and loving father when she's done something worthy of punishment, we should fear a holy God who will also lovingly punish us. It's a matter of trust.
The Hebrew midwives feared Pharaoh, to be sure. But they feared him not only because he was powerful but because he was also wicked.
But they feared the Lord even more. Pharaoh could kill them. But the Lord could do even more than that.
They trusted the Lord. They knew that they had to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord over what Pharaoh wanted. So they risked their lives trusting God with the results. That's what living with a healthy fear of the Lord looks like. And it often results in very good things. In this case, it saved a child. And that led to the deliverance of over a million slaves and the birth of a nation. The nation that God would bless the world through.
If they'd not defied Pharaoh, Moses would have been murdered. But he wasn't because they trusted and obeyed their Lord over a powerful, wicked king.
We too face decisions that rest in the fear of the Lord. How we will respond to an unscrupulous boss pushing on us corrupt business practices? Or a coach who bends the rules? Or a spouse who wants to cheat a little on their taxes?
We face these kinds of decisions all the time. And God sees it all. The question is, "Do we believe that his knowing matters? Do we fear the Lord?"
The answer will be seen in how we respond. How will you face your fears (of man vs. of God)? Who do you fear more: people or God?
Will we trust and obey the Lord over anyone else regardless of what we think the consequences will be? I pray we will.
What is God saying to you?
What will you do about it?