Women of the Bible

Shiphrah and Puah | Women of the Bible

(If interested in more Women of the Bible posts, check them out here!)

The story starts like this: Two women were given a command from a king. The command was to take newborn babies from their mothers and kill them.

But that’s not how this story played out. These two women, Shiphrah and Puah, heard the unjust law and refused to obey it, because it went against what their God commanded.

Here’s from the NIV translation:

“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.” Exodus‬ ‭1:15-21‬‬

What a story no? These women were committed to life. Committed enough to defy the most powerful man in the world.

They were courageous. They were brave.

Would any of us have been brave enough to do the same? Would we have trusted God more than an earthly authority? And here’s what makes the story even more extraordinary. Neither Shiphrah nor Puah knew what the consequences would be for disobeying Pharaoh’s command. Would they get caught? If they did, would they be put to death? It didn’t matter.

And how did their earthly stories end? They are not only remembered forever in Scripture, but God blessed them and they had their own families.

God does not ask us to obey authority when it goes against His commands and His Word. He asks us to follow Him. Christ calls us to something far greater and something much more. To love others. To see Imago Dei in all people.

I wonder if Peter quietly thought of these women, when centuries later, he reminded us, that as believers our call is to God and Him alone:

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts‬ ‭5:27-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Women of the Bible

Anna of the New Testament | Women of the Bible

A few months ago, I read an article that featured some women of the Bible, lesser known women and what their stories mean for us today. I loved it. Not only because there were quite a few I didn’t remember (or know #honesty), but I was encouraged by the fact that God doesn’t waste space in the Bible. They were very short features, but none the less, it got me on this kick to study lesser known women in Scripture.

Enter in a new “series.” Y’all know me and my “series.” Sometimes they are on point and consistent, sometimes I forget I started them and sometimes I have nothing more to say on the topic – ha! But anyway, I think this will be good for me….the whole studying scripture thing is always good for my soul. 🙂 (If interested in more Women of the Bible posts, check them out here!)

I have never understood how people who have read the New Testament miss the way Jesus interacted with women. Even stories of women from the Old Testament are inspiring. What I see is women leading, serving, being loved deeply by Jesus.

Some the biggest inspirations over my life and faith come from the bible. Of course there are the big names, like Esther, Ruth and Mary, but I love how God also weaved in so many other stories of women. Lesser known women who may have one or two sentences in scripture, but still have an incredible story to tell.

One such woman? Anna of the New Testament. This was what we know of Anna from scripture from Luke 2:36-38:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

She gets two verses in the entire Bible. Just two. At first glance that may not seem like much and that there might not be much to learn from Anna. Yet.

Isn’t that just like Jesus? What we might see as insignificant is far more than we can imagine. Plus, if you’re mentioned in the Bible that’s legit. Unless, it’s for shady reasons (where to even start with this list?), then totally not legit.

So Anna. She got married as many young women back then did. Only seven years later, her husband died. That in itself is terrible, but in a culture where women depended on men in many ways, I can only imagine the extra grief that was set before Anna.

Yet.

She chose joy and serving the Lord. For 84 years! Fasting, worshipping, praying. Just think about that. I mean, real talk for a quick minute, I sometimes fall asleep after 3 minutes of prayer. But Anna was committed and because of this, Anna is the New Testament’s only named female prophetess. #Status

I would say Anna was content with her life. She had dedicated her life in service to the Lord and never gave up on that mission. I really believe she could have gone on to glory and that would have been more than enough for Anna. But the Lord wasn’t finished with her. Because then, Baby Jesus was born (Can I get a Hallelujah and Amen?).

What she thought was another day of praying, fasting and worshipping at the Temple, was much more. Instead, Anna was gifted with perfect timing of seeing Jesus and witnessing Simeon bless baby Jesus.

What an incredible gift! What was Anna’s response? Telling any and all about Jesus and the redemption of Jerusalem.

So yeah, I would say there’s a few things to learn from Anna and her two verses.

Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect
But we can cling to the hope that God still reigns, He has a plan and His timing is perfect.

When we trust Him, He blesses us more than we can imagine
And in ways we couldn’t dare to imagine. But do not dare not to dare friends.

When we draw close to the Lord, He draws near to us
Lord, may I never lose sight of this!

I hope you were encouraged by Anna’s story as I was! Have you read much about Anna before? In what ways has life turned out a bit different than expected?