Exodus 1:15-21 “Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and let the male children live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”
Have you ever heard people say things like “It’s my body,” “It’s nobody else’s business what someone does in the privacy of their own home,” or “To each his own?” In all of these statements there’s the implication that as long as you’re not bothering anyone else with your sin, it should be of no concern to them. However, as numerous accounts in the Scriptures attest, that kind of thinking is almost always very misguided.
In the passage above we see Pharaoh giving full sanction to two Jewish midwives to kill the offspring of the Jews. This attitude, as well as all the other idolatrous and arrogant sins of Pharaoh, ultimately brought severe plagues from God on the entire Egyptian nation, the last of which was the death of the firstborn children and firstborn animals in every Egyptian home, including Pharaoh’s own son. Then he lost his entire army in the waters of the Red Sea. There Scripture’s was David’s very private sin with Bathsheba. In the end it resulted in the death of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, David’s son to Bathsheba, and also at least three other sons of David, a result of Nathan’s prophesy that the sword would never depart from David’s house (2 Samuel 12:10). Another result of David’s “private” sin was the humiliation of David’s wives in the sight of the entire nation (2 Samuel 12:11).
Sin is compared in various places in scripture to yeast or leaven (Galatians 5:9, Matthew 16:6). Just as a very small amount of yeast works through an entire batch of dough, one sin, no matter how hidden or “private,” can have far-ranging effects. How often has that first interaction with alcohol or drugs in a person’s life, perhaps in the privacy of their own home, led slowly but surely to a habit, then an addiction, and finally devastating impacts to the entire family of those involved. How often has involvement with pornography in private circumstances led to greater and greater addictions, marital strife, sexual crime, and all that goes with it. While we may hide our sins from others, those sins have a way of finding us out (Numbers 32:23).
On the other hand, righteous actions often have far-ranging benefits beyond anything we might imagine. In the account above, the midwives, rather than submitting to Pharaoh’s wicked commands, feared and obeyed God instead. As a result, the entire nation of Israel was blessed and the midwives themselves were blessed by God with families of their own.
A lesson in all of this is that God sees all. Whatever a person sows, they will reap. No one will ever get away with mocking God’s law (Galatians 6:7). All of us are accountable to our Creator. No one ever does anything without consequences ordained by the One Who is sovereign over the affairs of men (Psalm 103:19). And just as a seed sown produces fruit that exceeds the seed many times over, so the Lord has ordained that sinful acts and righteous acts often produce sinful and righteous fruit, respectively, far beyond what we would have imagined when that seed was sown. May God give us the wisdom to take the examples and commands God has given us in His Word to heart, and to sow such seeds as will bring blessing, rather than cursing, in the end.