It was a power move made from a place of fear. Egypt’s Pharaoh felt threatened by the growing numbers of Hebrew slaves and decided a pre-emptive strike was necessary. So, he ordered the Hebrew midwives to carry out a means of population control – the death of all newborn baby boys.
Imagine being one of those midwives. As slaves, their people were already abused and mistreated at the hands of the Egyptians. They had zero power and the most powerful man on the face of the earth was commanding them to kill their own people’s innocent children. What would you do knowing that your own life was on the line? Courageously, the midwives stood up to Pharaoh by saying that the Hebrew women just gave birth too quickly. They couldn’t get there in time, therefore, the baby boys lived. Well, you can imagine how furious Pharaoh was to hear this loophole excuse. Yet, even at the risk of their own lives, the midwives chose to obey God rather than Pharaoh.
The midwives’ bold stance against Pharaoh’s command is a classic example of when and how to practice civil disobedience. Yes, the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 13 clearly calls the Christian to obey the government and the laws of the land. So when, if ever, are we to disobey? When the government begins to push us to break God’s law – that’s when we must make a choice: to obey the ruling authority of the day or obey God. The midwives chose God. With their lives on the line, they stood up for what they knew was right and God blessed them.
Maybe the situation you’re facing isn’t quite so life and death. Maybe you’re facing relational or professional pressure to take a short cut, to bend the rules, or to turn a blind eye to something that you know is wrong. The next time you’re forced to choose between worldly pressure and what’s right, remember the midwives’ courageous faith. Choose to obey God.