31 January – 6 February 2016.
Sometimes when my family and I walk down the street, a Taiwanese person will yell at us, call us names, and tell us to go back to our own country. Sadly this is an experience that many foreigners have had here. While most Taiwanese are very lovely people, not everyone is happy to have foreigners in the country.
Exodus 1 shows us that this type of prejudice is nothing new. Pharaoh and the ancient Egyptians also hated foreigners in the land, and they wanted to find some way to destroy them. So in verse 10, Pharaoh thinks he has a clever plan: he encourages the Egyptians to oppress the Israelites, to treat them ruthlessly, and make them suffer. But no matter how badly they treated the Israelites, no matter how mean they were to them, or how bitter they made their lives, the Israelites stayed strong.
Would we join in that type of behaviour today? Most of us believe we wouldn’t act in such evil ways. But history shows us how hard it is for people to do what is right. When the Nazis killed millions of people, lots of ordinary Germans just went along with it. After all, it’s so hard to stand against the rest of society.
That’s why Exodus 1 names two amazing women and praises their incredible bravery. Shiphrah and Puah are ordinary women, but when everyone else around them is doing evil, when others think that oppressing and killing foreigners is the best plan to solve the country’s problems, and when even the Pharaoh directly commands Shiphrah and Puah to help with the killing, they have the bravery to refuse.
Instead they act with compassion and do what they know is right. They refuse to participate in evil just because everyone else is doing it. And because they act bravely with compassion and love, God greatly blessed them.
Today we aren’t being commanded to kill others. But everyday in our schools, jobs, and churches, people want us to join them in oppressing and hurting others. Everyday we face the pressure to do evil. Will we just go along with everyone else, or will we be brave like Shiphrah and Puah and do what’s right?
Pastor Stephen Lakkis