Monday, July 16, 2018

A Case for Civil Disobedience

  “But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.”  Exodus 1:17

Most Christians here in the US have never faced legal consequences for following their religious convictions,  but  I think we all know that could change in the not so distant future.   Steven Ingino recently posed the question Would Jesus Bake a Cake? and gave three reason why he believes  Christ would not have baked that wedding cake.  On another note,  if  spanking your child were to become illegal would it violate the Scripture’s command not to "spare the rod" of correction?  If so, should we disobey it?   Tim Challies gave what I thought was a very good answer.  Use the Rod, Lose the Child?     
Although Paul writes “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God" (Rom. 13:1), the Scriptures also give several examples of civil disobedience that God blessed. 
The  first recorded case of civil disobedience found anywhere  is in the book of Exodus where the midwives were commanded to kill male babies.   Using our sanctified imagination, what might have been going through the minds of  Shiphrah and Puah  on that awful day  when  they were summoned by the king of Egypt?  Here were  two ordinary  God fearing women  dedicated to the care of mothers and their new infants  who suddenly  found  themselves  perspiring before the  oppressor of their people 
Since they are the only women named, Shiphrah and Puah  may have been in charge of  all the midwives in the burgeoning population of Hebrews.   Imagine the quandry the found themselves in when they received Pharaoh's command,
“When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him.” Ex.1:16 
Knowing rebellion would spell disaster for them and perhaps even for all those working under them,   the midwives had to think on their feet before the next baby arrived, which could be at any moment. 
But their fear of God outweighed any fear of retribution the king might impose on them and they refused  to comply  with the diabolical decree.  Pharaoh’s relentless persecution of God’s people proved unsuccessful and the Hebrews  continued to increase in number just as  God  had promised Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).     Furthermore, the Lord rewarded Shiphrah and Puah’s willingness to obey God in the face of certain death.
“So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Ex. 1:20-21 
Calvin writes of their boldness in the midst of danger,
 “We must also observe the antithesis between the fear of God and the dread of punishment, which might have deterred them from doing right.  Although tyrants do not easily allow their commands to be despised, and death was before their [Shiphrah and Puah]  eyes, they still keep their hands pure from evil.  Thus, sustained and supported by reverential fear of God, they boldly despised the command and the threatenings of Pharaoh.  Wherefore those, whom the fear of men withdraws from the right course, betray by their cowardice an inexcusable contempt of God, in preferring the favor of men to his solemn commands.”1
The Pharaohs who reigned in Moses’ day were under the same sovereign God that our presidents and rulers are under today.   Whether good or evil,  government officials are instruments  in the Lord's hands to display His sovereignty  and power and to bring glory to Himself.  (Romans 9:17-18)
As our world continues on its collision course towards the final judgment Christians are bound to face opposition and persecution in countries where religious freedom currently reigns.    Though most of us believe it is our "right" to enjoy such freedoms,  having religious freedom is actually an anomaly.  Throughout history and in many parts of the world today,  believers suffer severe persecution for their faith.  
The Lord is purifying His people and one the ways He accomplishes that is by putting our loyalty to the test.   One day we may all have to decide whether to obey the law of the land or the law of God.  

1.Calvin, John. "Commentary on Exodus 1:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 

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