Let them Breathe: The Making of a Midwife

Author’s Note: This piece was originally published on January 30th, 2016. You can find it archived in PDF format under the tab “Let Them Breathe: The Movement” on this website’s homepage. All future “Let them Breathe” essays will follow suit.

Psalm 11:3 inquires each of God’s children, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It’s a question meant for reflection, because it demands consideration of whom we shall be whenever the majority has departed from God’s will. Far from giving us permission to give up when wickedness triggers fault lines in the foundation, the verse is an excellent example of the Holy Spirit’s prodding in our inner man. The Spirit desires us to consider, “Will you fall with the rest, or are you an heir?”

If we are heirs, then we are managers of the Father’s estate, and this great estate happens to be the world around us. The Father yearns for His heirs to have an active role in managing the estate; otherwise, it will come to ruin. The Great Commission is the binding code by which we administer these affairs, for our daily operations could not run without it. It’s acrimoniously apparent that the estate of America has actively undermined its Judeo-Christian foundations over the past two decades, and the corrupted roots have been fostered even further back in our history. It can be quite simple to sit in our armchairs and lament the end of America from our front row seat. However, have we ever considered that the foundations can be restored? We are the heirs of the estate, and the foundation is our inheritance. Will we watch it crumble without lifting a finger against the tide? These are the convictions that have been put upon the Church through the Holy Spirit, and as a recipient of this conviction, I am at fault for neglect.

On the other hand, the estate has not yet come to ruin. The Board of Directors is always prepared to intervene as long as the heirs are humble and willing. God the Father is above all, and His purposes are never usurped. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s Word, and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God  interceding for the faithful. The Holy Spirit is our business partner here on earth, and He’s in the business of communicating God’s decrees. If the heirs listen, their heartbeats will bump out the rhythm, “Business is Booming!” Although, in order for business to begin booming, the heirs must lift their hearts in humility and voices in intercession, speaking the words of Psalm 9:19-20, “Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged before You. Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men.” When Martin Luther whacked his 95 Theses onto the doorframe of the Wittenberg Castle church, the Holy Spirit began to move along with him. He saw the corruption of the basic Gospel message and was not willing to commit himself to a dead religion devoid of the Good News. As the heirs have seen, the Protestant Reformation shined the light of the Gospel to a spiritually bankrupt Europe.

The Church dismisses these facts during certain periods of time, and as a consequence, we often are indiscernible from those outside the Church when pivotal issues are contested in culture. A fresh reformation is now necessary: the emancipation of the unborn. God’s people and pro-lifers within the States and around the world are currently crying out against the slaughter of the innocent with a force whose crescendo is beginning to wash up on the shores of our culture and courts. This is due to the reality that the pro-life movement is inherently a godly endeavor. While there are many pro-lifers who have not made a commitment to Jesus Christ as of yet or are committed atheists, each of these people is still advancing the will of the Father without even consciously realizing it! God is pro-life to the core because He created it in the first place. In addition, he will not withhold his wrath from those who shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17). With this in mind, it’s in the best interest of our nation and future generations to crank the levels of decree up and end abortion forever.

Many warriors have taken up the gauntlet in this fight for life long before I was born, yet I would do a disservice to their work if I did not make an attempt to echo the case for the unborn that they have espoused for so many years. The beginning of abortion’s end has its catalyst in those who are unashamed to speak up. I’m not speaking to the warriors now; I’m calling on the conscientious objectors, the ones who dodged the draft in this fight because it was an uncomfortable one to engage in. The days of this particular stance are over where Christians pander in conversation, “Well, I don’t particularly agree with abortion, but we should let people do what they want if they’re responsible adults.” That’s riding the fence harder than a professional bull-rider, and this particular stance hangs with the cobwebs that entangled the nation with Roe v. Wade. If a man or woman considers himself/herself a “progressive” Christian, then I encourage them to consider the love of God towards His Children and ask themselves if abortion in any way lines up with His precepts of love. This is not meant to shame, but to exhort. For those who have been silent or in disagreement: We need you! You are not useful on the sidelines worrying about the opposing crowd’s boo-birds. Get in the game, and you’ll never be ashamed. Don’t believe me? Here’s a historical precedent…

The introduction of Exodus has the makings of a pro-life Hallmark movie. The book begins with the account that every Christian can roll off their tongue with ease: The Israelites grew large and mighty, and the new Pharaoh didn’t know of Joseph’s reputation. Consequently, the Israelites were put into bondage because of Pharaoh’s fear that the large numbers of Hebrews could possibly turn against Egypt in the event of a war. Most Christians can already discern the audible been there, done that when the story comes up. In the process, we miss the pro-life lesson amongst the familiar details.

As an attempt to cut down the Hebrew numbers, Pharaoh called in the midwives who assisted the Hebrews, and charged them to carry out these actions in Exodus 1:15-16, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” Pharaoh did not want the population of military age males to increase, because a male Israelite slave one day could be an Israelite rebel on another if the Hebrew population was permitted to continue its exponential rise.

The response of two midwives named Shiphrah and Puah was nothing short of miraculous. Exodus 1:17 chronicles the proverbial x-factor that soiled Pharaoh’s national security policy, “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive” (emphasis added). There is contentious debate about whether these midwives were Egyptian or Hebrew, but it is not in my realm of expertise to definitively assert the ethnicity of these midwives. In any event, the ethnicity has little bearing on the dynamic outcome of the story. The crucial lesson learned here is that these two women feared God. This fear of God was essential, for it gave them the courage to realize that Yahweh’s laws overruled any of Pharaoh’s decrees. In some way, the words of Genesis 1:28 were implanted into their spirits: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” No matter the orders, neither Shiphrah nor Puah could become image-destroyers and cut off the life of the innocent.

What happens if a culture does not fear God? A rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is one that will have the ability to violate the sanctity of innocent life. It has happened in the United States, for our Supreme Court justices and federal government have bowed to the altar of secularism. For Pharaoh, national security trumped the value of innocent lives, and in Roe v. Wade, the desire to have a choice sealed many an unborn child’s fate. Satan will work through any other philosophy, religion, or political system in order to destroy God’s means of creation. Take note that the rapid increase of divorce, the militant push for same-sex marriage, and abortion rights all target the familial structure. Satan’s desire is to undermine God-ordained institution, and if he can redefine the family, marriage, and procreation, he can then insert a counterfeit concept of each institution as a means to create more brokenness.

Pharaoh eventually caught wind that male Hebrew babies were not getting shellacked, and summoned the midwives before them asking them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” (Exodus 1:18). Remember that Pharaoh was considered a god-king; he was not just descended from the gods, he was god in Egyptian society. Disobedience would get these two midwives executed faster than you could say, “Amun-Ra.” For instance, this is akin to disobeying a direct order involving national security that was given to you by the President of the United States. Failure to carry out an executive order of this nature would result in a trial with a charge of treason. In the same vein, the midwives were effectively disobeying “god” and betraying their country for some Hebrew slaves.

Rather than break out in tears of guilt, those valiant women stood before the god-king Pharaoh and answered him, giving the flimsy excuse, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives comes to them” (Exodus 1:19). The midwives weren’t lawyers, and they had to toss up any excuse they could find, and that displays the mettle of their hearts. They surely would have known that their lives hung in the balance, yet they would not compromise.

The text doesn’t tell us what Pharaoh’s reply was but verse 22 catalogues his response, “So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you (the Hebrews) shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.’ ” This indicates that Pharaoh was frustrated that his orders were being subverted, and that he had no choice but to show his cruelty before the Hebrew people. Because the Hebrew population was so numerous, Shiphrah and Puah could not have been the only midwives; the possibility might have been that they were similar to “head nurses” and were the administrators who carried out the executive orders. Since Shiprah and Puah were clearly instructing the midwives to allow male Hebrews to be born, Pharaoh had to directly instruct the Hebrews to get the job done.

Pro-lifers can learn a lesson here: we can be a roadblock to abortion if we will use the authority we’ve been given to protect the innocent. Many of us may not be in positions of authority, yet once again, that pesky Great Commission tells us to preach the Gospel. And it just so happens that this Gospel is one that values life both in the temporal and eternal. Some may question, “Wasn’t Pharaoh merciful in letting the daughters live?” If anything, this choice revealed Pharaoh’s lack of value for women. Males were a military threat, but for him, it appears that the women had no qualities that could shake his throne. Little did he know that two female midwives would decide to follow their fear of God rather than his orders and be a stumbling block to him.

As for Shiphrah and Puah, they very well should have been whacked at the first drawing of the sword. However, verses 20-21 tell us that the opposite occurred, “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.” There’s that fear of God again—the x-factor that secular society rarely considers. This fear of God provided supernatural protection for Shiphrah and Puah (and possibly more midwives), because how else does one explain the reason for Pharaoh keeping two uncooperative midwives alive?

So what can we discern from these two shyster midwives? If nothing else is taken away from this account, pro-life advocates must reinforce this foundation: the environment surrounding culture must not determine our will. These midwives were amidst an Egyptian culture that surely had no thought of contesting for the infant lives of slaves. However, someone must raise a voice, because there is violence in silence when confronting the face of evil. Edmund Burke’s oft-quoted aphorism tells us, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We Christians are the someone who must continue to raise the cry of contention for the unborn. If two God-fearing midwives can speak up at the risk of death, then how much more should a bunch of pro-life Christians hopped up on the Holy Spirit and rap rhymes from the Christian rapper Lecrae?

Shiphrah and Puah didn’t have the luxury of freedom of speech, press, or religion back in their day. All they possessed was a fear of the Lord, and it carried them before the face of Pharaoh and preserved their lives. Not only were they preserved, but God was pleased and provided for them. We have the advantages of the Bill of Rights and technology, so the excuse of media persecution is hollow in comparison to the plight of Shiphrah and Puah. God is not looking for slick salesmen; rather, He’s eager for those who have fear for Him and the courage to speak His truth. If we are willing to do these things, He will not leave us cold and broken. The Holy Spirit will provide us with the grace necessary to declare the whole truth of God with dignity. Like any sane General, our Father will protect those who put themselves on the front line at the risk of withering before those in seething opposition.

Our Father asks something even more difficult of us. We must pray for the Pharaoh’s (the people in power) in our society who defend abortion. Our current Pharaoh’s name is Barack Obama, and he is not to be excluded. His heart can be turned, and so can Hilary Clinton’s, another contender for the next Pharaoh of America. Take it a step further, and you’ll find yourself praying for the obstetricians (OB/GYN) or better known as “abortion doctors.” Going back to the fact that the Satan can only counterfeit, we must realize that these obstetricians are just misplaced midwives. They have become counter-midwives, the ones who would have killed the Hebrew males as soon as they exited the womb if they were the characters in Exodus. They do the same today; neither discriminating by race or sex, they end the lives of the unborn before they can even exit the womb.

Despite these indefensible actions, a time of direct intercessory prayer is necessary to contend for the changed hearts of these abortion doctors. Our prayer must be that their hearts will be softened by Jesus’ love and converted into hearts like the midwives Shiphrah and Puah. Yes, we must tell the whole truth: abortion is a decrepit sin. On the other hand, we cannot conceal the other half of the truth— that God forgives and cleanses this sin by the blood of Jesus. Already, there are testimonies of doctors who have given up performing abortions, because they have come to know the truth. Imagine what coordinated prayer could do! The very hands who once performed abortions could one day be delivering babies instead of slicing them apart in the fetus or injecting them with feticidal drugs. Take the hint people: if a swath of doctors won’t perform abortions, then the industry is going to take a hit in the pocketbook. Since money and political power are synonymous, support for slaughterhouses like Planned Parenthood won’t be getting the popular support like they used to, and the pro-life movement can take steps to redirect America back toward moral sanity when the national conversation turns to reproductive health.  These are the voices that could change the tide to overturn Roe v. Wade! Pray and believe pro-lifers, and if you’re an atheist or follow another path, you’re welcome to join the kingdom as well.

To all the pro-life advocates: the momentum is moving in our direction. The God of Heaven and earth is on our side, science is on our side, the statistics are on our side, and the testimonies of women who regret their abortions are on our side. We cannot discount the power of prayer to Yahweh, because the ripple effect can wash away the immorality. Look at the next chapter in Exodus. Soon after, it was recorded in Exodus 2 that Moses was born and hidden. Becoming an unlikely deliverer, he was part of the generation that broke the yoke of slavery and led the children of Israel out of Egypt. He was just another Hebrew infant that should have been tossed into the river, but because his family feared God, he became a man who helped lay the foundation of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel. Are we ready to change history as well? The Master is awaiting his heirs to begin managing His state with the courage and honor of two midwives named Shiphrah and Puah. If we fear God and pray with a faithful fervency not yet seen, we just might do some serious business with our business partner the Holy Spirit, and consequently, rock the future like Martin Luther.


Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer  with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with exposed ears to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. The great pursuit of his life is to live by the words he writes—which is currently an ongoing project. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.





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