Bible study for Jan. 20: When life is expendable

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Exodus 1:16-17, 22 – 2:9
Jim Duggan, Pastor
Bellevue Baptist Church, Macon

Churches across the country today observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Since life is a gift from God, we as good stewards should do all we can to respect, preserve, and protect human life. 

The Fear of God

As the story unfolds in the opening verses of the book of Exodus, the Hebrews no longer enjoy the favor of the Egyptian rulers. Joseph and the generation of his brothers died off, and the Hebrew people became more numerous in Egypt. The new Egyptian Pharaoh viewed their great number as a threat and devised a genocidal plot.

In an attempt at population manipulation, he ordered two Hebrew midwives to kill all the sons born to Hebrew women. He likely ordered the sons killed because they represented a potential military threat should the people attempt an organized revolt.

The midwives did not obey the king because they “feared God.” In the Pentateuch, that phrase often refers to those who recognize a moral order established by God. While it does not necessarily mean they followed the Jewish religion, they at least recognized a sense of right and wrong. They were not afraid of God Himself, but they feared the consequences of disobeying Him.

These verses illustrate for us a dualism still in tension today – God’s way verses man’s way. The midwives chose to obey God and He blessed them with families of their own (verse 21).

The Value of Human Life

Sin is a sore loser. When Pharaoh did not get the cooperation of the midwives, he hatched another diabolical plan. He ordered that all male Hebrew children be drowned in the Nile River.

A Levite man (Amran) took a Levite wife (Jochebed see Ex 6:20) and they had a son (Moses). Jochebed saw that he was “beautiful.” As a figure of speech, the phrase “saw that he was good” means when she saw her child, she longed to keep him. Jochebed hid Moses for three months, until it became impossible to hide him any longer.

When the child developed to the point he could no longer be hidden, she took the risk of setting him afloat in a “tebah.” That word was also used to describe the vessel in which Noah and his family floated to rescue during the flood. Again in writing Exodus, Moses connected his story with the intentional intervention of God in human affairs to accomplish His plan.

In this section we noticed that Jochebed took risks to save Moses’ life. If we value human life, we will be willing to move out of our comfort zones and become actively involved with organizations working on life issues. Because human life is valuable, we can take risks to protect and defend it.

More Than Just A Moral Stand

From a human view, we understand Moses likely would not have survived had Pharaoh’s daughter not gotten involved. Of course, all of this happened not by accident, but by God’s providence. Just as God raised up Moses to deliver His people, He also raised up others around Him to accomplish the plan.

Moses’ sister (Miriam) reminds us of the need to be aware and available to those who are most vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. Pharaoh’s daughter serves as a reminder to us that adoption is one of the greatest ways a family can be involved in providing a solution to unplanned pregnancy issues. 

Jochebed, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter responded to the immediate moments, but God was at work all around them. Moses was an integral part of God’s plan of redemption. Unknowingly at the time, these ladies partnered with God in an eternal enterprise. As we look for opportunities to be involved, God will open doors to use us in ways we never dreamed possible. When we get involved, it is not by chance, but on purpose — God’s purpose.

Afterword

As Georgia Baptists, we are blessed with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Public Affairs Ministry to help us in our efforts. Mike Griffin and his staff can provide you with information and resources as well as connect you with organizations near you already involved in Sanctity of Life work.

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Daily Bible Readings for January 16-31
Bible study for Jan. 20: When life is expendable
Bible study for Jan. 13: When races collide
Daily Bible Readings for January 1-15