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Daily Devotional • March 23

Steven McCain
Lives of Deliverance
A Reading from Exodus 1:6-22

6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store citiesfor Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus is a story of God delivering his people from oppression, a theme that quickly becomes apparent in the opening verses of the book. As a new king rises to power in Egypt, he feels that his power is threatened by the Israelites. He grows afraid of how numerous and powerful the Israelites have become and establishes systems of oppression against them. He even tries to turn the Israelites against their own by employing Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew midwives, to kill all male babies. 

Shiphrah and Puah, however, do not fear this new king. They fear God and courageously disobey the king of Egypt by preserving the lives of the babies. These midwives are an example of courage, resisting oppressive powers, standing in solidarity with the oppressed, and trusting God above all else. 

Exodus is not simply a story of God’s deliverance of an ancient people. It echoes the deliverance we receive through Christ Jesus, our Passover who is sacrificed for us. This story in Exodus also highlights the role of ordinary people like Shiprah and Puah in God’s redemptive plan. It reminds us that God invites us into a life of deliverance — both for ourselves and those around us. 

Shiprah and Puah show us how to fearlessly contend against evil and refuse to make peace with oppression. Have our hearts become calloused by complacency with the forms of oppression around us? Who might God be calling you to stand in solidarity with? Will we be so bold? 

Steven McCain is a seminarian living in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, Benjamin and James. 

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Ziwa (Lake) Rukwa – The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas
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