As we know, the story of Moses begins against the backdrop of an attempted genocide. The Pharaoh of Egypt was attempting to diminish the numbers and influence of the Hebrew people by ordering the Hebrew midwives to kill any male baby born to Hebrew women.
“But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders,” Exodus 1:17. The defining and valorous characteristic of the midwives was their fear of God. These were two ordinary women doing an ordinary job whose extraordinary fear of the Lord was the frontline defense for protecting the life of Moses– Moses who is arguably the most important figure in the Bible outside of the Son of God. Moses, the recipient and conveyor of the Old Covenant law, the assumed author of the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch.)
It is notable that the fear of God that these two midwives had earned them the honor of their names being recorded in the book of Exodus. Shiphrah and Puah.
Shiprah and Puah were not the only women, going about their every day, who made an impact on the protection of Moses’ life, and the movement of his course into the precise position that the Lord had for him in his youth– to be an adopted child in the house of Pharaoh.
There are five women identified in 18 verses who made simple decisions within the small sphere of influence they had that steered Moses into God’s will for his life.
The midwives refused to murder him; his mother hid him and then entrusted him to the Lord by releasing him in faith down the Nile; his sister watched after him as he floated away in a basket; the Pharoah’s daughter interrupted her bathing to gather him from the reeds; his clever sister then leapt at the opportunity to recommend their own mother as his wet nurse.
None of these individual actions are all that incredible. These are the actions of women doing what women do.
Midwives bring children into the world, not out of it. Mothers protect their children, and at a point for each of us, we have to release them to the Lord, for His protection is beyond what we can give. Sisters look after their baby siblings. And princesses ignore their daddy’s orders cause at the end of the day they know that “baby gets what baby wants.” Adding to the text with that last one, but honestly, the royal house knew that Moses was a Hebrew child, so somehow the princess got away with defying her father’s edict.
Now, I know how annoying it is to be told as a woman that “your ministry is to your husband and children.” I get a sort of violent gagging sensation when I hear that said. So let’s reframe that in light of the women who “birthed” Moses’ into his calling:
Your ministry is the fear of the Lord.
No matter what your job, what your role, what your position, what your gender– your ministry is living moment to moment with a sensitivity to the Lord’s promptings.
If interrupting a bath out of curiosity over a basket can change the humble status of a Hebrew slave child into striking position to become the greatest influencer of the Old Testament, then there is no action that is beneath impact.
It is true that in the Bible, men get the lion’s share of recognition. They tend to be the one’s doing all the cool stuff and getting positions of power and interesting assignments. That can be frustrating for women who desire to be impactful for the kingdom.
However, the women of Moses’ story: the midwives, his mothers, and big sister Miriam, prove that impact and importance are not the same.
Importance is of little importance to God. But God honors those who fear Him by crafting the mundane actions we take and natural reactions that we have into influential tools for His glory and plans.
Jesus talks extensively in the Gospels about God’s preference for hidden devotion, humble acts of obedience, and the honor stored up for those that are waiting to receive their rewards in heaven.
Women have a privileged position of disadvantage on earth. We are the types Jesus called “blessed” in the Sermon on the Mount. The worst thing we can do is to covet Moses’ mission to the extent of despising our own.
Persist in fearing the Lord. Only He knows what great work you have done that was so normal to you that you overlooked it as being significant.
Our only work is fearing the Lord– no matter where that leads us, and no matter how exciting, interesting, or admirable our path may or may not seem to others, and no matter whether it was a “man’s job” or “women’s work.”
There will be no gender discrimination when Jesus is handing out crowns of righteousness beside the throne of God.