I am continually amazed at the Holy Scriptures and the worlds apart they are from our modern day American culture and American Christianity. Living on a Christian college campus again brings up all of the contradictory and complicated aspects of evangelical college student’s faith lives.
Exodus 1 is one of those chapters that throws a wrench in our nice spinning wheel. In this chapter, the king of Egypt issues and edict to have all of the infant males of the Hebrew people drowned in the Nile. Despite this ruling, the midwives of the Hebrew people refuse to kill the infant males– in direct defiance of the king. The king even catches on and asks them why they are not killing the babies to which the midwives specifically lie to the king– they create a very dishonest tall tale.
A few verses later, Exodus 1 clearly endorses the midwives dishonesty! Not only is there a blanketed endorsement, the text goes on to say that God blessed the midwives for their actions and gave them children of their own.
I love this story because it is such a shift from our Puritan ethics in American Christianity. The Old Testament does not have these neatly defined understandings of ethics. It always stands on the side of the people God is favoring– almost always the oppressed people under the domination of some empire or corrupt authority. In each instance, some behavior that would be considered questionable or outright wrong in our current systems is used and endorsed by the Scriptures.
What scripture text like Exodus 1 tell us is that there are horrible atrocities going on in the world and that there must be some who are willing to stand up and stand against it. We cannot hide behind our quaint systems of morals and ethics. We must stand against oppression because God hears the cries of the people!