Sunday, March 19, 2006

Verbum Dei II

Exodus 1:16-17

"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."

God cares little of kings and powers, mighty nations and armies, as he says, "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales... Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing." (Is 40:15, 17). To God, the pharaoh of Egypt was just another enemy to his people. He remains nameless in the historical record of the redemption of God's children. All that's said about him was that he "did not know Joseph" (Ex 1:8), in that he was ignorant of the good ol' days where Pharaoh and Joseph were friends, and that Egypt and Israel coexisted in peace. Archaeologists, Egyptologists, and Biblical scholars have always debated who the pharaoh was at this time. Out of all the museums filled with Egyptian history, we may never know for sure who this pharaoh was.

What we do know for sure is that the Hebrew midwives in Egypt prior to the Exodus were named Shiphrah and Puah. My pastor has said that when we study the great civilizations of the world we study their "ruins," but when we study the history of God's people all we have are pages in a perfectly preserved and unruined book. "So who cares about Shiphrah and Puah?" you may ask. (Let me finish, stop interrupting with questions.) These two heroines did more for the human race than the highest ruler of the most powerful civilization in the ancient world. Their names are written down because they saved Hebrew babies from infanticide. These pro-life women had more power over the destiny of the world than mighty superpowers. Before Miriam placed Moses in the Nile and then boldly approached pharaoh's daughter about him, before Jocheved decided to put her baby in the basket, these two midwives blatantly stood against government and feared their God. And about the helper of Israel God says, "He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him" (Is 41:2).

We probably will never be as powerful as a pharaoh, or as important a leader as Joseph, or Moses or Aaron. But will we be as faithful as Shiphrah and Puah in fearing God and living out his commands regardless of opposition be it pharaoh, president, prime minister, or principal?

The next time someone talks about 'making a name' for himself, remember what my professor
Dr. Stephen Dempster once said regarding power and legacy: "Remember, we name our dogs Caesar, and our sons Paul."