Summary: No spotlight. No applause. No recognition. However, they changed the outcome of the story and often changed history!
Anyone familiar with popular culture will know their screen names well. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey. We probably know some of their real names . . . David Schimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Matt Leblanc. But do you know James Michael Taylor, Maggie Wheeler, or Jane Sibbet? Without these people the stories that the stars of Friends tried to tell would be incomplete. Gunther, Janice and Carol (Ross' ex wife) weren't the stars of the show but from supporting roles they made the episodes memorable. They are hidden figures. Often overlooked and even underappreciated but absolutely essential to the story.
I want us to look at two very obscure characters this morning that show us that it takes more than stars to make the story complete.
Exodus 1:8-21 (TLB)
Then, eventually, a new king came to the throne of Egypt who felt no obligation to the descendants of Joseph. He told his people, “These Israelis are becoming dangerous to us because there are so many of them. Let’s figure out a way to put an end to this. If we don’t, and war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us and escape out of the country.” So the Egyptians made slaves of them and put brutal taskmasters over them to wear them down under heavy burdens while building the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians mistreated and oppressed them, the more the Israelis seemed to multiply! The Egyptians became alarmed and made the Hebrew slavery more bitter still, forcing them to toil long and hard in the fields and to carry heavy loads of mortar and brick. Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, instructed the Hebrew midwives (their names were Shiphrah and Puah) to kill all Hebrew boys as soon as they were born, but to let the girls live. But the midwives feared God and didn’t obey the king—they let the boys live too.
The king summoned them before him and demanded, “Why have you disobeyed my command and let the baby boys live?” “Sir,” they told him, “the Hebrew women have their babies so quickly that we can’t get there in time! They are not slow like the Egyptian women!” And God blessed the midwives because they were God-fearing women. So the people of Israel continued to multiply and to become a mighty nation. And because the midwives revered God, he gave them children of their own.
Two unknown, unlikely women, names recorded in Scripture for history to remember. At the risk of their own lives they defy the order of Pharaoh to kill the Hebrews. Unwilling to participate in Pharaoh's murderous and brutal plan. Perhaps the first recorded act of civil disobedience. From a hidden, perhaps even overlooked role, these 2 women teach us incredible lessons.
Deliverance can come from unlikely deliverers.
When we think about the deliverer of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage we automatically go to the headliner . . . Moses. However, if you read the story carefully they delivered before the star deliverer was even on the scene. In fact, there would have been no deliverer if these women hadn't stepped up and stepped in.
We tend to think about those on the platform, those that premier, the elite, the highly gifted and charismatic as the ones who can bring change, produce freedom, and deliverance. However, I just wanted to remind you that deliverance can come from unlikely people! From the overlooked role, no cameras, no spotlights, no applause but God positioned in the right place to bring deliverance.
In this case an entire generation is saved. Their service saved people. Their service protected the destiny of the new born. Thousands of simple and perhaps overlooked moments where they offer laboring and birthing mothers cool washcloths to their foreheads, where they gently turn babies inside of wombs – where they listen closely for heartbeats, where they root for life with their encouraging words, “yes push”, “you are almost there”, “life is coming”. Simple acts that produce deliverance.
Don't underestimate your simple words, your simple actions, your simple obedience because these ladies teach us that simple things produce profound results. Who's destiny are you saving right now? Who's future are you protecting right now? Who's heart is being softened towards God when they hear your voice?
Your obedience today may not produce fruit until tomorrow.
Some of us serve, volunteer and sacrifice for a short period and become discouraged because we don't see fruit immediately. We must learn to continue to remain faithful even in fruitless seasons. In due season fruit will come. The importance and impact of their simple but brave act wasn't realized until 80 years later.
Think about that. These ladies are protecting babies and 80 years later Moses stands before Pharaoh and with the aid of Aaron (83) demands that he let the Israelites go free.