God Made Them Houses

“And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.” (Exodus 1:21)

We have at the conclusion of the first chapter of Exodus one instance of Galatians 6:7 (“whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap“) in action, and the foundation for another instance. First of all, we have the two God-fearing midwives, Shiprah and Puah. Since the population of the Hebrews now numbered into the millions, we should understand that these two women were not the only two midwives to serve in this office, but were likely the overseers of all who performed this duty. At the behest of Pharaoh, these two women met with the king and were instructed to kill all of the male babies born to the Hebrews. But, fearing God, they disobey this insidious directive and spare the children’s lives.

In recognition of what they did, God “made them houses”, that is, He blessed them with families of their own. Because they spared the lives of the children born to the people of God, God gave them children of their own. They reaped what they sowed and were blessed for fearing God above man. Verse 19 has presented a controversy among critics and sincere Bible students alike in that it would appear that God is blessing the midwives for lying and deceiving Pharaoh. First, we should understand that we are not told that God caused His favor to fall on them because of what they said to Pharaoh, but because they feared God (v. 17 and 21). It was their reverence of God and respect for His people that brought God’s favor, not their deception of Pharaoh. Secondly, it would be erroneous to impose a “moral code” on these two women that had not even been given yet! The Law of Moses, with the Ninth Commandment prohibiting the “bearing of false witness”, had not yet been handed down by God. Neither had the Christian understanding that lies and deception are not actions becoming of one trusting in the Lord. Abraham lied (Gen. 12:13), Isaac lied (Gen. 26:7), Jacob lied (Gen. 27:19), Peter lied (Matt. 26:70-74); is it fair to hold these two midwives to a higher standard than these? God does not bless a person’s deception, but He certainly can bless them in spite of it. We should also realize that, had the midwives been completely candid in what they had done, Pharaoh would have no doubt had them summarily executed along with all of the infant Hebrew boys in Goshen. As Herod was enraged when he found out that he had been mocked (Matt. 2:16), so this proud king of Egypt would have¬†certainly done likewise.

The second instance of the principle of Galatians 6:7 being set into motion comes with Pharaoh’s orders to kill the newborn Hebrew boys by throwing them into the river (Ex. 1:22). Some eighty years later, the firstborn sons of Egypt would be killed just as the Hebrew children were. We are reminded in both of these instances that our actions bear consequences — both good and bad, both judgment and blessing — and we all reap what we sow. God does not overlook sin, nor does He overlook what is done out of reverence for Him. Let us take comfort in the fact that those things done through faith in His name will reap a blessing; and let us take caution to judge our own sins, bringing them to God in repentance, so that His chastisement is not necessary (1 Cor. 11:31-32).

4 responses

  1. Loren . . .I never thought of that, of the mid-wives being blessed for lying. ! I really appreciated the way that you explained it. I can’t think of specific cases, but believe I have read before of others who have lied in order to protect someone else . . .or have took some liberties with the truth. . . like in countries where Christians are persecuted, or during the Holocaust. It blesses me to know that in times like this, our desire to honor Him out weights the sin of lying. I always need the reminder to keep before Him continually with my life and to not grow weary of doing good. God bless you and your teaching for Him! :)

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  2. Hey, Deb, thanks for commenting :)

    I never really think much about these women “lying” either when I read Exodus, but apparently there are those who do. It amazes me the things that some folks get caught up on when reading Scripture! I wrote about this much as I did the post about Joseph’s “Cup of Divination” back in Genesis: to offer up a reasonable explanation to those who find problems with such events. God isn’t pointing to the midwives’ deception as an example of “godly” behavior of which He approves (and I sincerely hope that no one reading this post thinks that I am endorsing lying, either), The Spirit of God is just recording in the Book of Exodus what happened.

    Like the scenarios you mentioned (i.e., Christians being persecuted, the Holocaust, etc.), there are matters of life and death where being completely candid could cost lives. I think it is misguided to sit in the comfort of our own living rooms, Bibles in lap, and accuse others of wrongdoing because they were not completely honest with those hostile towards them and seeking to harm others. To cite one secular example, we know that the shopkeepers and employees of the business beneath the attic where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War 2 technically “lied” to the Gestapo by not reporting the family; would anyone in their right mind fault them for this? Absolutely not, in fact, the individual who finally reported them is viewed as a traitor and a villain! How is it, then, that when someone in the Bible acts in the same manner their own integrity (as well as God’s for “allowing” it) is called into question?

    I don’t believe God expects us to take a “By-any-means-necessary” approach to serving Him and feel free to sin as we please if we feel it will be in the best interest of the Lord, but I do believe He expects us to use a little common sense! Thank you so much for sharing your insightful thoughts on this! God bless you, Deb :)

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  3. Hi Loren

    I’m having computer access issues so I’m going to have to play catch-up again! I was looking forward to the series but life happens. Hope to be back online soon.

    Blessings
    ann

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  4. Oh no, hope your computer problems are fixed soon :)

    Look forward to hearing from you again soon! God bless you, Ann!

    Like

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