Should we always be obedient? I bet we have all been in a situation where we were instructed to do something we didn’t feel was right, or was against our faith and believes. If we find ourselves in such a situation, what should we do?
I was reading the book of Exodus, and I came across two women I had never seen or heard about before. Shiprah and Puah. Who are they? They are the Hebrew midwives that lived in Egypt during the time the Israelites were oppressed by Pharaoh. He sought to prevent the Israelites from multiplying and overpowering the Egyptians. So he did the most despicable thing: he ordered these midwives to kill any male child that was born by the Israelites.
Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” – Exodus 1: 15 -16 NLT
This is not at all surprising. I know this part of the story, in fact, a similar situation occurs again centuries later, (SPOILER ALERT: King Herod orders the death of every male child under two years to ensure that the new King is murdered. He didn’t succeed 😉)
But that is not what catches my eye. What actually got my attention was the women’s corresponding action to Pharaoh’s instructions:
But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too. – Exodus 1:17
They faced a choice, and they knew the consequences of disobeying a ruthless and fearsome ruler. Their lives were on the line. But they feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. They didn’t care about how angry the king might be. These women surprised me even further by deceiving Pharaoh when they were brought in for questioning:
So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?” “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.” – Exodus 1: 18 – 19
The fear of God gave the midwives a greater strength to see beyond their own interests and act wisely. Their godly fear translated to Love. Love for God and His people. The choice was not easy, but they fearlessly followed the path of service, no matter the consequences. They disobeyed the king. They let the boys live. They lied.
Their selfless act saved countless lives, they honoured a greater Truth in their choice to disobey Pharaoh. God blessed their faithful obedience to Him by giving them families of their own.
Shiprah and Puah’s decision to work against injustice inspires us to take a stand. Was it wrong for them to disobey authority, or to lie? Definitely not, in the wake of their disobedience, an unlikely leader rose and delivered the people of Israel from slavery. And in a similar manner, an unlikely Saviour came and saved the world from sin. One whose first cries from the manger, and final cries from the cross still echo with justice and truth.
This reminds me of a similar event in the New Testament; the disciples of Jesus were arrested for preaching and healing, in a bid to stop them, they ordered them never to preach again in the name of Jesus,
“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. – Acts 5:28-29
Let God’s word guide your decision. Yes, God’s word instructs us to obey authorities and rule over us, but it has to be in line with God’s word. So, should we always be obedient? Yes, but only to God. If you are always obedient to God, you will also be obedient to all the right instructions.
Written by – Olayemi Morrison