Bible Studies for Life

with Laura Leathers

Sunday,  January 20

When Life is Expendable

Exodus 1:16-17,22-2:9

Today, across the Southern Baptist Convention, is the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Abortion, human trafficking, adoption, and foster care are words which describe an action involving children. Today, the state of Mississippi has one abortion clinic. Human trafficking is a growing epidemic. Children enter foster care because of various situations, while others have the opportunity to be adopted. Add another component, grandparents raising grandchildren. Scripture tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Perhaps we should ask ourselves this question: With all of man’s knowledge, intellect, technology, medicine, and so much more, is our treatment of human life, on a worldwide basis, better or worse than in biblical times? 

We do not have a way to measure the statistics to answer that question. However, as we study today’s lesson, our focus is on the need to protect and value all life, with an emphasis on children. The Word gives us insight and creativity on what it took to protect the infants born to the Hebrew women and how Moses was spared in the midst of a holocaust. The focal passage begins with Exodus 1:16-17 and the preceding verses tell us Pharaoh, a new king over Egypt, came to power. One thing to note about this Pharaoh, he didn’t know Joseph and all that he had done with the previous Pharaoh. Instead, the only thing this new king recognized was that the people of Israel were multiplying. He was afraid they would join with the enemies, fight against them, and escape from the land. So he sent taskmasters over them bringing much affliction. Another way to deal with the overpopulation of the Hebrew people was to kill the boy babies at delivery. Instead, the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, made a critical decision. They “feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them but let the male children live” (v. 17 ESV).

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about “The fear of God.” It is not a trembling in your boots fear, but a fear of God which means awe, reverence, and submission to His authority. It appears very evident the midwives knew murder was wrong and children were a gift from God. Their belief system determined their actions. It is logical to think the two women mentioned were not the only midwives. These two women were an example to the other midwives, and they demonstrated much courage. Their choice is an excellent model of how we are to fear God, stand firm, and respect human life.

Now it was time for Pharaoh to implement a new plan: “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile (v. 22). During this timeframe, there was a marriage of a Levite couple who had a son named Moses. Scripture states his mother hid him for three months. When she could hide no longer keep him hidden, what was she to do? Did she pray to ask God how she could protect her child? The Scripture text does not say, but we do read where she had a creative plan to make a basket of bulrushes, covered with bitumen and pitch. Then, “She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank” (v. 3). She assigned her daughter to watch (v. 4). As a mother, she did everything she could to protect him; another example we should follow. 

Whenever you study the birth of Moses, remember the sovereignty of God. Everything appears as if evil is winning and, in the midst of all of this heartache, God is weaving and working lives together to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps Joseph best summed it up when he told his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20b). At just the right time, Pharaoh’s daughter came to the same place in the river to bathe. There she saw the basket, had a servant retrieve it and when the basket was opened the child was crying. She knew it was one of the Hebrews’ children. From her hiding spot, Moses’ sister comes forth offering to find a nurse for the child. Pharaoh’s daughter accepts her offer, paying wages (v. 9). The beauty of these verses is to see how this woman overrode her father’s decree and provided for this child who would one day be Israel’s great leader. We also need to find ways to provide for others.

What steps are you willing to take to respect, protect, and provide for all of human life?

Leathers is a member of First Church, Madison.