When They’re Oppressing You
By Andrew McColl, 5th October, 2021
But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the people with equity. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You (Ps.9:7-10).
We shouldn’t be surprised that there are monsters in governments today. They’ve been around from the beginning. Pharaoh was one of them, until God drowned him in the Red Sea (Ex.14:27-28).
When Moses was first sent by God to challenge Pharaoh, he responded bluntly.
Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go (Ex.5:2).
Pharoah wasn’t interested in granting freedom to Israel’s slaves, and neither are our modern monsters. Some of them wear dresses, but they are monsters, nonetheless.
What makes them monsters? They utterly reject the idea of a God Who rules over them, and they enjoy pushing people around. Nowadays, they’re using the smokescreen of “Public Health.”
Once again, there is nothing new about this. The Psalmist spoke of the uproar in his era, when
…the king of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” (Ps.2:2-3).
Monsters in high places do create challenges, but there are important, scriptural means of dealing with them, and the first two chapters of Exodus illustrate these.
Firstly, the two Hebrew mid-wives (Shiphrah and Puah) chose a strategy of quiet but constructive disobedience, to Pharoah’s evil commands to them to murder Hebrew baby boys (Ex.1:15-16). When they were discovered, they lied to him. They’re explanation was
…because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them (Ex.1:20).
The next verse tells us,
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.
Plainly, this text connects the midwives’ faithfulness to God in lying to protect the baby boys, to His blessing. They obeyed the Lord-He blessed them.
Secondly, when Moses’ mother bore him, she chose to disobey the law in not killing him. Rather, like the midwives, she concocted a devious scheme of protection and concealment (Ex.2:1-10), even involving Pharoah’s daughter.
Was this really right? The New Testament explains:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict (Heb.11:23).
Sometimes, disobedience to civil government is not just acceptable, but absolutely necessary for the godly. In both examples, there was nothing else for these bold and godly folk to do, but to act with deliberate and planned deception, in the protection of innocent life. And the Bible in its consistency speaks very plainly (if indirectly) of Who they really feared the most:
There are six things that the Lord hates, Yes seven which are an abomination to
Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood… (Prov.6:16-17).
Consider this 3rd case: Rehab’s protection of the 2 spies from Israel (Joshua 2). She concealed them, she lied about their whereabouts (v.3-6), she saved their lives (v.15-16). Clearly, she could have been killed by the king of Jericho, for her actions against Jericho in a time of impending war. Because of her actions, she was later protected from Israel’s genocide that came upon the city (Joshua 6:20-25), she married a godly man (Mat.1:5), and she was grafted into the lineage of Jesus Christ.
How can we describe this set of activities?
Non-violent, imaginative resistance by people who feared the Lord, protecting the innocent. In our time of challenge when people of doubtful ethical standards are in power, using that power oppressively, we must consider if we should emulate these earlier examples.
In a public document such as this, there isn’t any need to go into detail. Suffice to say, that these three examples (and there are many more in scripture) will suffice to make this principle evident:
Absolute, unconditional obedience to any human authority has no basis in scripture, for this would be a violation of “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex.20:3).
Difficult, oppressive times call for wise, prudent and imaginative choices from the Lord’s people. We must make these, submitting ourselves to His law, while taking all the necessary steps to preserve the lives of the innocent from those who would oppress them.
And in these choices, we can call for and expect His help and blessing.
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted. Why has the wicked spurned God? He has said to himself, “You will not require it.” You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan. Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer, seek out his wickedness until You find none (Ps.10:12-15).