In order to get to the manger, God’s people have to survive until then.
When we get to Exodus, the Israelites were fruitful and they multiplied. They filled the land—they were beginning to resemble the sand and stars God promised to Abraham. God is keeping his promise not only to preserve a people for himself, but to make them a great nation.
But there’s a problem. The serpent is alive and well, and he’s dead set on destroying God’s people and canceling God’s promise. And it looks as if he might succeed. As the Israelites multiply, Pharaoh fears they will overpower him. So he subjects them to hard labor as slaves, and when they continue to multiply, he orders the slaughter of their sons. If the Egyptians kill all the baby boys, won’t the promised seed be destroyed?
We said that we were going to see how our gracious God works through ordinary people to accomplish his purposes. And sometimes those ordinary people are the most unexpected ones.
Pharaoh told the Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys. But don’t worry about the girls, he said. What do they matter?
See, God had a plan to raise up one of those baby boys as a deliverer who would lead his people out of Egypt and establish them as a nation—Moses.
But, first, his deliverer needs a deliverer.
So God chooses unlikely heroes. Shiphrah and Puah aren’t names that stand out to us; we don’t often tell their stories. Yet their names are recorded in Scripture as women who feared God and defied Pharaoh. They believed God’s promise, and by faith they became the first deliverers of God’s enslaved people.
And the story continues that way (see Exod. 2:1–10). God preserves his people through those whom Pharaoh has written off as inconsequential—a Levite woman who has faith, Moses’ sister Miriam, even Pharaoh’s own daughter.
Isn’t it encouraging that our God is the God of Shiphrah and Puah? He appoints good works for us; he equips us with the grace to walk in them; and then he uses those good works to bring blessing to others (Eph. 2:10).
How many of our stories include people’s ordinary faithfulness, used by God to draw us to himself?
Shiphrah and Puah likely didn’t know how significant their role was. They had no idea their names would be recorded in Scripture. They were just fearing the Lord and doing their jobs. And because of God’s work through ordinary and unexpected people like Shiphrah and Puah, the promised line would continue. God would deliver his people from the serpent’s hand until, one day, another baby boy would come—the Savior of the world.
This is adapted from our Christmas devotional, “The Promised Seed.” It’s not too late to download your copy here.