One of my biggest heroes in the world is a midwife in Pensacola, Florida. That’s right – a midwife. Her name is Jenny Allen, and she saved my granddaughter’s life. If it wasn’t for her, our little Lucy would probably be dead right now. God used her in an amazing way to do exactly the right things in exactly the right ways to keep her alive after she was born, and she is like a part of our family and always will be. She delivered Lily, and came to her birthday party yesterday. She is family. And she is one of my heroes.
She is an unsung hero, not unlike two women in the Bible that most people who upon hearing their names would say, “Who are they?” Shiphrah and Puah. You find their story in Exodus 1. When Joseph died and the years went by, a new Pharaoh came into power, and the good things that Joseph had done were forgotten. The truth is that a new dynasty came into being and there was a concerted effort to remove every trace of the history of that time. Documents were destroyed and all of the evidence of that period was removed. That is why it has been so difficult for historians to prove the existence of the Jewish people in Egypt, but it also explains why it was so easy for the animosity to build against the ancestors of Joseph so quickly. The Egyptians became fearful of the great numbers of the Jewish people and made them slaves, but the Jews continued to multiply. So the order was given to the midwives: kill all of the male babies.
For the most part, the stories in this series of messages have focused on men — men who were constantly struggling to be faithful to God. Falling, but by His grace, choosing to get back up again. We need to recognize that this is a mirror of our lives as Christians. An image of what it means to walk the path towards spiritual maturity, struggling to do the right things, knowing that we fall down and get up only to fall down again. But in the story of Shiphrah and Puah, we find a different kind of story – a story that reminds us about the strength God gives to do the right thing when we walk with Him – strength to overcome evil.
Considering what our children are facing today, could there be any better stories for us to tell? I know that there are no better outcomes than for our children and our children’s children to learn: how to overcome the evil that is running rampant in our society. So just how did these wise women of Israel stand strong against the powerful Pharaoh of Egypt and overcome the greatest evil of their day? The Midwives Overcame Evil By Their Fear of God. Look at v. 17. “The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them….” Now let’s be careful here. We tend to automatically translate the word “fear” as “awe” and “reverence,” but we have to be careful that we don’t give a New Testament understanding to this Old Testament passage of Scripture. While it is right that the word means to revere God and to have this holy awe of God, that is not completely true for these women. They did not have the same history that we have. They did not have the same relationship that we have. In other words, these ladies did not know God like we know God. Don’t misunderstand. They were honest and upright, and they were religious but only to a certain extent.
We would do well to understand what they knew about the fear of God because it is still true for us today, too. While they did not have a personal, intimate love relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they understood right from wrong. Just like every human being, God had instilled within them that knowledge, and undoubtedly their parents had taught them the stories of their ancestors. They knew enough about what their people had gone through to know that the consequences of disobeying God were serious. If you want to pull an important principle from this, here it is: it is imperative that we teach our children what the Bible teaches about right and wrong. But more importantly in this story, these women were more afraid of what God would do to them after death than what Pharaoh could do to them in this life.
That matches up with what Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 (NKJV).
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
King Solomon said it, too. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It’s smart to recognize that the One who holds the ultimate key to our judgment is a holy God, and because Shiphrah and Puah did exactly that, they feared God more than they feared man. That is why they refused to kill the male babies. Listen. We ought to obey God because we love Him. We ought to obey God because we revere Him. But if nothing else works, we ought to obey God because we fear the consequences of our actions. Now I know some of you are sitting out there reading this and saying, “Preacherman, we are under grace. Our sins are covered by the blood.” You are absolutely correct, my friends, but understand my heart. While as a child of God, you aren’t going to go to hell for your sins, the last thing in the world that I want to do is to displease my Heavenly Father. What I live for most in this world is to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.” But God does more than that for these Hebrew women. When you read the rest of the story, you find that out.
Pretty soon, the Pharaoh took notice that there were lots of little Hebrew boy babies around, so he called Shiphrah and Puah in for questioning. Notice their response in v. 19. It wasn’t a lie – it just wasn’t the complete truth. “The Hebrew women are stronger than your Egyptian women. They give birth before we get there.” Now look at v. 21. “And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.” Do you know what that means? God rewarded their fear. You see, most midwives of that day were women who could not have children of their own, so because they feared God and obeyed Him, God blessed these women and gave them their own families. That’s what God does. When we obey Him, His blessings follow. Standing up to evil is always the right thing to do, and God will give you the strength to do it when you fear Him. But here is the good news. He rewards those who stand in the end!
I heard a great song this week that speaks to all who are going through the fires. It’s by Mercy Me and it’s called “Even If.” I’ve included the link for you to listen. It’s worth your time. https://youtu.be/B6fA35Ved-Y