DOING THE RIGHT THINGThe king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women in 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.’(vs vss 15-16)
The greatest evil of slavery is that people are treated as things. Israelites in Egypt were a threat to Pharaoh, or so he believed, so he took steps to deal with them. Shiphrah and Puah were all that stood between the life and death of a nation.
At great personal risk, they disobeyed Pharaoh and let the male children live. It would have been far easier for them to do as they were told.
The two midwives were Hebrews, of the same race as the children they were told to murder. It is easier to feel sympathy with those who are like us than it is to feel for those who are different – though that does not make their heroism any less.
But Christians are also called to stand alongside those who are not like us at all, and that can be a lot harder. In the Second World War, the Churches in Germany mostly failed to do this and to stand up for Jews. Some brave individuals did, though, at the risk – and sometimes the cost – of their lives.
It is not easy to stand up to authority, whether it is the authority of a political leader, a church leader, a boss at work, the opinions of our friends, or public opinion. Sometimes, though, we are presented with very clear choices between right and wrong.
A lot can depend on the decisions we make. One of those saved by Shiphrah and Puah was Moses.
Prayer † Loving God, thank you for the example of those have done the right thing when it was hard. Help me not to be afraid of the powerful, but to stand for what is true. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.