“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, . . . and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them, Exodus 1:15-20, (NASB).
It hadn’t always been like that for the Hebrews in Egypt. Joseph had risen in influence and authority. In a time of famine, he brought his father, his brothers, and their families to the land where food was available. Over time, the famine subsided, but Joseph died, and a new Pharoah ascended. Life for the Hebrews in Egypt changed.
Did they notice small changes, little limitations, and growing oppression? Or did life change all at once in one day?
Do we notice the changes around us?
Throughout our lives, era blends into era almost without our noticing. Social mores take on different hues and shades and before we know it, society has taken itself to a new place.
Jake Meador: “In a hedonistic world [during the 1990s to 2010s], hostility to Christianity . . . was mostly centered around Christians being a moral buzzkill. But in our new moralistic world [from the 2010s to today], it’s not simply that Christianity is boring or not fun, but that Christianity is actively harmful because it suggests that there are some types of authentic selves [identities] that are actually bad and should not be privately accepted or publicly expressed.”
This change from a hedonistic era to a moralistic one happened gradually yet arrived more suddenly than we imagined it could.
Our times never stand still. We move forward and backward as a culture, not in a linear fashion. We’ve moved forward, for example, by establishing fairness in workplace laws regarding ethnicity and gender, but backward in other ways, embracing sin, then celebrating it, then insisting on approval for it.
Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, and Louise Perry in their respective books agree that Americans assume societal movement is always progress and always good. As Sax says, in this viewpoint, progress “has a smooth, upward trajectory albeit with a few hiccups.” Such a viewpoint, Perry points out, “encourages us to ignore both the ways in which things may have become worse over time and the advice offered by older generations.
That so many see our faith as not only passe but also “bad” for society is not something Christians can simply ignore. The crucial question becomes: How do we maintain our faith and faith communities in such an environment?
More from Meador: “What will primarily sustain the church in this moment is plain to any student of church history, for it is what has always sustained the church: the grace of God offered to us through the preaching of the Word and the Sacraments, which equip us to live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. What sustained the church then was a quiet confidence in the providence of God, a patient resilience amidst suffering, and a humble reliance on God to give what is needed, in life and death. If we would lean upon those resources, they could sustain us today as well.”
The Hebrew midwives in Egypt knew honoring God was more important than obeying a wrong decree. God blessed them by placing them within families, perhaps providing a measure of safety not otherwise available. For many Hebrews, life got harder–until God sent a rescuer.
Today we wait for our promised rescuer.
And like the midwives of long ago, we must remain faithful until the day.