God will PROVIDE for us when we ‘FEAR’ HIM: But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God that He provided households for them. (Exodus 1:17-21)
The new Pharaoh, who became the king of Egypt about 430 years after the children of Israel had settled in Goshen, did not know Joseph and what He had done to save the people of Egypt in the past (1:8). He tortured the Israelites with hard labor and commanded the two Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah (“Beautiful One”) and Puah (“Splendid One”), to kill all the male Hebrew children as soon as they were born!
We can understand that Satan was actually using Pharaoh as an instrument to kill the “seed of the woman” (Gen 3:15) just as he used King Herod to kill all the male children in Bethlehem when Jesus was a baby (Matt. 2:16-18). Satan was working behind the scene to destroy the ‘Redeemer’ before His birth (see Revelation 12:4). However, the two midwives knew and feared the living God (vv. 17, 21) since they were godly women with a courageous faith.
The Hebrew term for fear is the word regularly used for piety, obedience, and the true worship of God (see Gen. 22:12; Ex. 20:20). These midwives would not obey the evil commands of a human ruler, even when their own lives were at risk, because they feared God more than Pharaoh (Acts 5:29). They triumph as God’s instruments to preserve His plan for Israel.
In turn, God established the families of these two midwives because they were faithful to Him. This is a good illustration of the principle of “sowing and reaping”. These Hebrew midwives, who through fear of God had overcome the fear of Pharaoh, dealt kindly with the male children of the Israelites, and they were rewarded accordingly - “God dealt well” with them. God is not unrighteous to forget any work and labor of love which is showed toward His name or ministered to His people (Heb. 6:10). His promise is “For them that honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). They “saved the men children alive” and God “made them houses”, which may mean that God gave them husbands and blessed them with children as His provision.
As Christians, we have a model to follow in the example of the Hebrew midwives. When asked to do something that goes against God’s ways, we can resist and even disobey. We may not be as fortunate as the midwives to escape retribution. But we can rest in our conscience, knowing that we have feared God who is our ultimate authority. Ultimately, God will reward us with His blessings and provide for our needs when we fear Him!
"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4-5)