Saturday, June 02, 2012

Blessings Are Often Followed By Challenges - Exodus 1:21-22:

And it came about because the midwives feared God, that He established households for them.  Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”

Clearly in the verses prior to these, the text says, “God was good to the midwives”.  But in verse 21, we are faced with the possibility that the actual blessing of “establishing households” may not refer to the midwives alone, but to the Hebrews as a whole.  It is possible that the Hebrews, up to this point lived in temporary dwellings even on land that had been given to them.  And now they were being allowed, by God’s providence, to build more permanent homes – all because the Egyptians wanted to make sure they hung around to be slaves.  God has an amazing ability to use the perceived needs of others to bless His children.

If, on the other hand, the “them” here does refer to the midwives, then here we find the real reason why God blessed these women.  As we indicated in our comments on the preceding verses, it was not their possible lying to the Pharaoh that God honored.  It was their awesome fear of God that caused them to disobey the Pharaoh and the reason why God “established households” for them.  If so, we can suggest that God does bless those that facilitate good in life, not just those that are beneficiaries of the act done.  Thus, we have in the New Testament Jesus saying, “blessed are the peacemakers”.

The more the Hebrews were blessed by God, the more anxious Pharaoh and the Egyptians became about their growth and success in the land.  With his original plans of using the midwives to reduce their number by killing infants at birth thwarted the way it was, Pharaoh now turns to his own people with a new decree.  He wants them to drown every male child born to the Hebrews in the Nile River.

As I sit here and write these words, I am reminded that even with all that is going on in the world today between both Muslims and the social liberal elites of the West against Christianity, global data indicates that the number of Christians is still growing, although Islam may be growing at a faster rate.  The data sources certainly disagree at this time on which is the larger and/or the fastest growing religion.  In any case, as the number of Christians either grows or as the faith does not die off as quickly as some would like, I wonder what modern-day ‘Pharaohs’ may dream up for us next.  And more importantly, how we will react to it individually and as a Body.

Yesterday, I met someone who has decided to opt out of all concern with respect to world events and find his peace within himself.  In fact, he even went as far as to say something to the effect that “there is no turmoil in the world as long as I am at peace with and within myself.”  I am sorry new friend, but your closing your eyes, ears, and mind to world enmity does not make it go away.  The reality is that many do hate Christians today more than ever before and the time will come when, like the Hebrews in Egypt, we can only rely on the salvation that comes by the hand of the Almighty.  In the meantime, let’s pray we all remain true to Him.

Indeed, blessings are most often followed by challenges, especially in the lives of God’s people.  The secret is to harness the growth and development that can occur during their presence.

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