& Puah (Phua)
Questions to begin today! Do you fear God more than you fear man? If Christ is your Savior – If you truly understand how important it is to comprehend the Nature of God, you will fear God!
God holds solely within His hand the destiny of every person that has lived or will live. We all have been given a choice. Eternity with God or eternity apart from God? In the time our characters (we will talk about today), lived - God loved His people, but they still had to obey His laws or face judgement from the Almighty.
Who were these women? Simply put – they were two Hebrew midwives to whom the nation of Israel owes big debt of gratitude. And their example serves as a powerful testimony to all of us today.
Let’s set the stage! Joseph – the one with the coat of many colors - Yep – that’s the one – had single-handedly with God’s power and through an incredible series of events, mastered the most amazing peaceful relationship with the powerful Egyptians.
As years went by, however, this symbiotic relationship came to a screeching halt in the most cruel way. When Joseph and his brothers all died, ending that generation – and the King of Egypt who was in power at the time knew nothing of Joseph and the wonderful things he had done for the people of Egypt in the past. He only saw the Israelites flourishing and was convinced something had to be done about that. We pick up the story in:
Exodus 1:8-22 - 8 Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10 We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.[b]” 11 So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. 13 So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. 14 They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.
15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shipporah (Shiphrah) and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.[c] If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?” 19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.” 20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. 22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”
In order to squash the possibility of rebellion from the slaves who were growing more and more numerous and powerful, the horrible mandate was given to ruthlessly kill every baby boy as they were being born! When the King discovered a bunch of baby boys running around, he challenged the midwives as to their actions – the Hebrew midwives gave an answer – because they feared God more than King Pharaoh.
How significant was it that the Hebrew Midwives feared God more than the King? Let’s compare King Pharaoh to the Midwives to further comprehend how significant their actions really were as they acted to preserve their people. These differences are indeed dramatic!
King P – Great political and military power. Shipporah & Puah – None
King P – Official Prestige. Shipporah & Puah – Very Little
King P – He was a Man. Shipporah & Puah – Women
King P – He was King of the ruling people.. Shipporah & Puah – Slaves
King P – He was rich with the power to make others rich. Shipporah & Puah – Poor
They should have been intimidated – they were not. Why? They simply feared God more than man. Besides, as midwives, Pharaoh gave the order to the wrong people! They were all about preserving life, not ending it. They gave their lives to make sure the babies were born! They were not going against their standards.
Let’s Unpack the subject of the “Fear of God” at little more. What actually is the fear of God?
Let’s consult a theological writer, Charles Buck, who authored of the “Theological Dictionary” sometime before 1815. This book has been replicated in 2013 page by page so it’s system of divinity could be enjoyed by us today. Rev. Buck says this: Fear of God is that holy disposition or gracious habit formed in the soul by the Holy Spirit, whereby we are inclined to obey all God’s commands and evidences itself by:
1. A dread of His displeasure.
2. Desire of His favour.
3. Regard for His excellence.
4. Submission to do His will.
5. Gratitude for His benefits.
6. Conscientious obedience to His commands.
Does your fear of God include these things? If not, maybe you don’t truly fear God. Let’s look at three verses. Two in Proverbs & one in Psalms.
Proverbs 1:7 - Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 9:10 - Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.
Psalm 25:14 - The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.
When the Fear of God is part of our DNA, we simply take Him and His Word more seriously than anything else in the world. When we do, we are able to hear from Him more effectively.
It was said of Lord Lawrence – an incredible force for good in India in the 1800’s – “He feared man so little, because he feared God so much!”
Dr. Hugh McMillan, Presbyterian writer, says it this way:
“If we fear God, we need know other fear. That Divine fear, like the space which the American settler burns around him as a defense against the prairie fire, clears a circle, within which we are absolutely safe…. The Citadel of a man’s heart that is set upon God, is impregnable! The Hebrew midwives, despise the patronage of a crown and set a king’s edict at defiance. There is no bravery equal to the bravery that is moral. Pharaoh may frown but his frowns will be unseen and un-regarded amid the light of an approving heaven!
Let’s Contemplate Lessons Learned from S & P by answering the following:
1. Do you fear God more than anything else?
2. Does obedience to God at any cost mean more to you than anything else?
3. Are you afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing?
4. Are you easily intimidated by people that would lead you away from God?
One time many years ago, the king of Hungary found himself depressed and unhappy. He sent for his brother, a good-natured but rather indifferent prince. The king said to him, "I am a great sinner; I fear to meet God." But the prince only laughed at him. This didn't help the king's disposition any. Though he was a believer, the king had gotten a glimpse of his guilt for the way he'd been living lately, and he seriously wanted help. In those days it was customary if the executioner sounded a trumpet before a man's door at any hour, it was a signal that he was to be led to his execution. The king sent the executioner in the dead of night to sound the fateful blast at his brother's door. The prince realized with horror what was happening. Quickly dressing, he stepped to the door and was seized by the executioner, and dragged pale and trembling into the king's presence. In an agony of terror he fell on his knees before his brother and begged to know how he had offended him. "My brother," answered the king, "if the sight of a human executioner is so terrible to you, shall not I, having grievously offended God, fear to be brought before the judgment seat of Christ?"
Shipporah (Shiphrah) and Puah could have easily been intimidated – they were not.