But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. — EXODUS 1:17 (read Exodus 1)
The world is not the Christian’s friend. Whether we recognize it or not, God’s Word is clear that there is a real struggle that rages beneath the surface. It is a struggle between the seed of the serpent, Satan, and the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), the church of God throughout all ages. Satan’s design is nothing less than to destroy the promised seed, as he showed through Herod in the widespread murder of babies around Bethlehem.
Our passage reminds us that this struggle is a real struggle. It is not simply fought in the invisible world of angels or demons; in this passage, mothers and fathers, midwives and children are participants in the struggle. It is playing itself out in birthing rooms and halls of government. It involves real people with names like Shiphrah and Puah, and later Jochebed and Miriam. It produces real toil and real anguish.
And the struggle is ongoing still today. Sin, Satan, and the world unite in assaulting and tempting Christians. According to the book of Revelation, the old serpent still tries to swallow up the church (Rev. 12:16). The apostle John said: “Marvel not if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). Because they bear the stamp of God’s approval in their lives, God’s people, like Job, are a serious threat to Satan.
The best weapon in this struggle is true godly fear, as verse 17 indicates. That means saying “no” when God’s Word says “no.” It means taking the side of the people of God, even if it involves suffering affliction. Shiphrah and Puah were commended not because they plotted a coup or wielded the sword against the enemy, but simply because they obeyed God rather than men.
And remember, the outcome of this struggle between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s seed is not in doubt. Let the Pharaohs of this world issue their edicts and threaten with their rivers. It won’t be long before they will lie at the bottom of the sea, with God’s people safe on the distant shore.
Dr. Gerald M. Bilkes, Milk & Honey