“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).