Small people, unknown people, common people – these are ones whom the Lord makes use of – to His glory.
Before we meet Moses in the pages of Scripture, we learn of two midwives who stood for God and for their people. We know their names – Shiphrah and Puah. We read of them in the first chapter of Exodus.
These two were given orders from the throne of Egypt. “Kill every male child born to the Hebrews” came the command from Pharaoh. It was a directive these women could not follow for they feared the Lord more than they feared this man.
Egypt, on the surface, seemed a great and powerful empire. The pyramids and the Sphinx remain captivating and curious relics of a culture that once flourished along the Nile in northern Africa. The people were a superstitious lot who paid homage to plethora of gods and goddesses. They also were fixated on the afterlife and made elaborate arrangements to preserve the bodies of their dead. These bodies were laid to rest in tombs laden with riches and outfitted with, among other things, furniture, boats, and chariots.
Still, there ran a strong thread of insecurity through this ancient society. The people of Israel lived among them and thrived. This should have come as no surprise to the Egyptians for it was the ancestor of this very people who once saved the empire from starvation.
Joseph, a slave boy who heard from God, interpreted dreams for a past pharaoh. These visions told of a fierce seven-year famine to come. Beyond this, Joseph earned a promotion to a high position in the kingdom, and from there, he administered a wise plan that enabled Egypt to survive and thrive.
A Blessed People
The Egyptians were poor students of their own history. The ruler mentioned in Exodus 1 “did not know Joseph” and the story of the famine. However, this new pharaoh did know Joseph’s people, and he feared them. All that was done to try to control the Hebrew population failed. Bitter slavery with hard labor did little to hinder the growth of the population.
As a result, pharaoh drafted a plan of extermination and put these little women at the center of it. The ruler soon noted that Hebrew boys continued to come and summoned the midwives to meet with him. “Why are you letting the male children live?” Pharaoh asked.
Their answer said a lot about God’s people and about the Egyptians: “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” This response only served to further fuel the fears that enflamed the heart of this nervous leader.
“The Hebrew women are vigorous.” This is a powerful statement of identity. Also vigorous was the faith of these two women. It was courageous and real and it could not be quenched by laws and orders that violated their convictions as people of God.
Their obedience did not go unrewarded. These two women, who perhaps had delivered dozens of babies for other women, were blessed with their own homes and families.
Would We Stand?
The forgotten, the fragile, and the frail often become mighty instruments in the hand of the Lord. Pharaoh underestimated the power of their faith. A religion of idols does little to move people to take great stands, to risk their lives, or to engage in civil disobedience as these midwives did. Notice that their challenge so confounded this ruler that he seemed unable to muster any measure of rage toward them.The forgotten, the fragile, and the frail often become mighty instruments in the hand of the Lord. Click To Tweet
Two women saved many sons in Israel; these baby boys grew up to be fathers and brothers thanks to them.
Are we equipped to act with similar conviction? How would we respond if commanded to go against the principles of our faith?
May God grant us the courage of the midwives. May we stand firm against oppression and abuse.
May we be like the three Hebrew boys in Daniel who refused to bow before a golden idol and wound up meeting the Son of God in the midst of a red hot furnace.
May we speak like Stephen and stand with our gaze fixed on eternity as stones batter and bruise us to the end. May our last words be like his words for his persecutors – “Father, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60).
These men and women were little noted by the world at large, but before the throne of grace, their names are held in eternal honor. Pillars of faith, they are, in the great building of God.
To understand more about God’s way with seemingly small people, check out “Nobodies and Nimrods,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, Pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.