Bible reading for Feb 18: Exodus 1; Luke 4.
"But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them..." (Ex 1:17)
Pro-life midwives. About two hundred years later, the book of Exodus opens with a much different situation than Genesis closed with. The tribes of Israel have grown in numbers and power. But the Egyptian authorities felt threatened and subjugated the Israelites as slaves. The command went forth for the Hebrew midwives to destroy the male babies. The two women, Shiphrah and Puah, go down in sacred history along with Peter and the apostles, who believed, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). So, before we meet Moses, we meet these two courageous women.
The fear of God. It is possible to say that you love God (in some sense) without fearing him. But God, who is the only true and righteous God, is worthy of all reverence. This is not the same thing as being afraid of God (1 John 4:18). Love responds to the goodness and beauty of God; reverence responds to the honor, power, and holiness of God. The fear of God also protects us from many other fears. Oswald Chambers said, "The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
My take-away. We may not have government authorities commanding us to take innocent lives, but our culture is very brazen in its opposition to the biblical view of birth, life, marriage, and sexuality. We may be pressed by society to keep silent about our values, and we may come to fear their disapproval. But like the midwives, we too must fear God rather than the disapproval of people. John Witherspoon once wrote, "It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man."
"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose." (Luke 4:43)
Moral basis of faith (Luke 3). John the Baptist calls for repentance, speaking of the wrath to come (3:7-8). "Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (3:9). John gives his hearers very specific ethical directions (3:8-14), and he reproved King Herod for his immorality (3:19-20). The flip side of faith is repentance. We turn to God (faith) from sin (repentance). We see how we have sinned against God and come to him for his mercy and forgiveness. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers: "For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thess 1:9). In the Bible, faith in God is a repentant faith, and repentance toward God is a believing repentance. They go together.
Jesus is tested and is victorious (Luke 4). Where Adam fell, Jesus resisted, endured, and did not sin against God. Three times he quoted passages from Scripture, specifically, the book of Deuteronomy. We would do well to follow his example of memorizing and using the Word of God to resist temptation (Psalm 119:9-11).
Preparing for grace. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus announces his preaching mandate to his home town synagogue in Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (4:18-19). In proclaiming the gospel we do not shy away from the "bad news" of sin, self, and idolatry. But we do not stop there, we proclaim the "good news" of freedom and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus.
Images above: the synagogue in Nazareth, where Jesus, spoke these words. The floor is from the first century and is where Jesus stood as he read Isaiah to the congregation. My pictures from 1997.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.