Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shiphrah and Puah

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1-8
Scripture Lesson: Exodus 1:8-22
Sermon: Shiphrah & Puah

Shiphrah and Puah. Two rarely discussed let alone honorary names within the Biblical text...yet, the text lifts them up high, very high.

Shiphrah and Puah were the two Hebrew midwives that defied Pharaoh. He told them to kill the baby boys as soon as they were born, but Shiphrah and Puah let them live. Their tongue in cheek response to Pharaoh is classic: "The Hebrew women aren't like Egyptian women. They are vigorous and give birth before we arrive." So, the text memorializes Shiphrah and Puah by remembering their names and telling of God's blessings for their obedience.

These two ladies demonstrate for us a vital truth: Our actions define us.

If I ask you now, "Who are Shiphrah and Puah?" You'll likely respond, "They saved the Hebrew baby boys." Who are they? They saved the baby boys! Shiphrah and Puah are defined by their actions. That's how we know them...and that's how people know you.

Who are you? What actions define you? What inactions define you?

Shiphrah and Puah stood up and did what was good and right and true. Even though the babies they were saving were not their own, they risked their lives and lively hoods to save others' babies. This brings out another vital truth: We're in this together.

John Donne, famous pastor, poet, and parliamentarian, wrote one of my favorite poems:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

When one person is oppressed, beaten down, even murdered, we all are. When they die, a part of us dies, too.

This is expressed beautifully in the true story of Rocky O'Daniel. Rocky was crossing the bridge over Bad River near Fort Pierre, SD, when he saw a boy running up to him. 11 yr. old Tony Nye flagged down Rocky and explained between panicked breathes that his friend had fallen through the ice and was trapped under the ice-sheet. Rocky ran to the hole in the ice, jumped in the freezing water, and looked for the boy under the water. To his horror, he found the boy...and it was his own son. Rocky pulled him to the surface where others had gathered. They pulled father and son out together, alive.

If Rocky had not done what was right, his own son would have died. Yet, he had no clue. Whether his son or not, if Rocky had not jumped in the water, parents somewhere would have been grieving. Had Shiphrah and Puah not acted, parents would have been grieving, Moses would not have survived, and the Hebrews would have been exterminated in the genocide. John Donne was right. When the bell tolls, it tolls for us all.

Let us never forget the Hebrew midwives. Let us never forget teh importance of standing up and doing what is right.

Shiphrah and Puah, are you here? We need you more than ever!

1 comment:

Mindful Observer said...

What a great post - I was very inspired by the way you pulled together so many great stories into one inspiring message!