May 15, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“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)
What’s your biggest fear? Maybe it’s spiders or snakes. Maybe it’s the dark. Maybe you have a fear of the unknown. These types of fears trigger anxiety, tell us to run or hide, and are negative. But there’s another type of fear that’s good.
Before these two verses, we learn that the population of Israelites was rapidly increasing in Egypt. The new king in Egypt, after Joseph, was threatened by them. He didn’t want them to become large and powerful enough to overtake his kingdom. So, he came up with a plan to decrease the population of Israelites by half. This plan hinged on a very important group of people—Israelite midwives.
These midwives helped Israelite women deliver their babies. They had a very specific skill set, and their medical knowledge could help or hinder entire generations, which is why the king strategically asked them to kill all of the male babies. Men were seen as the superior gender, physically stronger, and necessary to continue multiplying the Israelites. Without them, the Israelite population would shrink and the king’s power would be secured. A command from the king of Egypt is the equivalent to a law. It must be obeyed or there would be consequences.
But the midwives chose to disobey the king of Egypt because they feared God. This is the fear that’s good. This fear means reverence, respect, and awe. It creates willing obedience. It cultivates trust. This fear indicates the midwives knew God is good, loving, kind, and His will is for their good and the good of His people, the Israelites. They trusted God, so they obeyed Him over the command of the king of Egypt.
What bravery these women displayed! They held the lives of future leaders in their hands. They delivered hope to the Israelites. They chose life. No doubt they would be afraid of repercussions from their disobedience, but they had the courage to defy the king of Egypt to obey God.
One final thought: The name for God here in verse 17 is the Hebrew word, “Elohim.” It’s a plural form of God’s name, indicating the Supreme God or the True God. He’s the ruler of all—the One who is in control; the King of kings. He’s not a domineering or angry ruler. He’s the perfect heavenly Father. He’s kind, holy, and worthy of our reverence. He’s good and His plans are good. He sent His Son to be born of a woman to deliver us all from sin and death and bring us life.
So, I ask again, what’s your biggest fear? Just as the Israelite midwives feared God, we Christians should also fear God above all, responding in awe and obedience to our King of kings and trusting that His plans are good.
Pause: Take stock of the things you’re afraid of. Maybe open a note on your phone or jot down in your journal today some things that trigger your fears. Then ask God, the Supreme God, the One True God, to replace those fears with the fear of Him.
Practice: Do you fear man more than you fear God? How can you apply the fear of the Lord to your life today?
Pray: God Almighty, You are the King of kings. You are the ruler of all. Thank You that I can trust You and that Your plans are always meant for good. I trust You. I’m in awe of You. When I’m tempted to give in to anxiety, help me to fix my attention on You. Give me more wisdom and understanding of who You are. I choose to live in obedience to You, my King! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.