One thing that is consistent throughout the breadth of scriptures, both Old and New Testament, is that the people of God will often find themselves at odds with the culture and society around them. In chapter one, Pharaoh sees the physical advancement of God's people and the Egyptians then react in a way that is typical of many people groups throughout history; subjugate them before they become too powerful to control. The Hebrews become enslaved to Egypt and Pharaoh orders the midwives to put their sons to death to prevent any sort of army from being formed.
That plan might have worked out for Pharaoh but it says in that passage that the midwives feared God and delivered the boys anyway, telling Pharaoh, "the Israelite women are too strong and give birth before the midwives come." This sheds a really interesting insight on what it means to "fear the Lord." The Hebrew word for "fear" that's used in the Old Testament usually refers to having awe and reference to God. It doesn't intimidate God's people in this instance but rather empowers them to act in defiance of the ruling powers over them. Even under the rule of Pharaoh, the Israelite women understood their God was more powerful and remembered the things He had promised.
When Pharaoh orders the murder of the Israelite boys, we still see this strength in the mother of Moses, and when the infant is discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh the child is protected by the favor of God and becomes family to the enemies of Israel. As Moses grows up in the house of Pharaoh, the Israelites continue to suffer, but God hears their suffering and remembers their covenant.
Following Jesus always has a cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who spoke out against Nazism during the 30's and 40's, wrote a really good book about it. When God makes promises to us, he does not guarantee the road ahead won't be tough, but the destination is always for our good.
The trap we as believers fall into though, is that we get defensive against the world and retreat to our places of comfort. God's heart for us, and the world, is much bigger than that. Just as God called the Israelites to the Promised Land through Egypt, God calls us to be his light in the midst of the world. He calls us to be his disciples not just in our churches and homes but in our workplaces and classrooms.
There are people in our lives who don't know the promises of God, and while society often tells us to keep faith private, God has called us all to minister to our friends and family. Anyone who's ever awkwardly talked about Jesus to an unbelieving friend or family member will attest to the pushback you might get, but when we express to others the love of God his favor is already shown to us.
Author | Justin Patton