As far as we know they preached no sermons, wrote no books, we know their names but not their lineage, how long they lived , or how old they were. Although they were Hebrews, they didn’t make it into Hebrews’ “Hall of fame” (chapter 11) but Moses tells us that “God dealt well with them”. I have always been fascinated by them….2 women who so “feared God” that they refused to obey Pharoah’s order to kill the newborn Hebrew boys.(Exodus 1:15-21) Women of faith. Women of courage. Women who “marched to the beat of a different drummer”. Women who believed that all human beings are created by God, in God’s image, for God’s glory, not economic units belonging to the State, not collateral, not numbers on a census sheet. Women who by faith anticipated the as-yet unwritten commandment “You Shall not kill”…not yet written on stone or paper, but evidently already written by the Spirit in their hearts.
They could have easily lost their own lives, but they were evidently prepared to take that risk. True disciples of Jesus, prepared to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him ..even when that means disobeying the State.
Obviously Moses learned about them, maybe from his mother. Was he inspired by them when he “refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God”? The writer to the Hebrews says he “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth then the treasures of Egypt.” We so easily sing “I’d rather have Jesus then silver or gold”…but it seems to me that for most western Christians, including myself, the choice isn’t that stark…we appear to have a bit of both! But what if we’re forced to chose?
Hebrews 11 tells us of others who “were tortured, refusing to accept release…..suffered mocking and flogging…chains…imprisonment…stoned..sawn in two…killed with the sword…destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy”
From January 1525 this was the experience of those later called“Anabaptists”…trailblazers of the modern Baptist churches, and all other churches that baptize only believers, “believers churches”, and that hold to the separation of church and State. From around 1519 there were a group of people meeting inZurichto study the scriptures. But in January 1525 their meetings were declared illegal by the City Council. Despite this they chose to meet that evening, disobeying their rulers, and it was at that meeting that Conrad Grebel baptized George Cajacob, then asked George to baptize him. The others present were also baptized there and then and went out to spread the gospel, baptize believers and form churches. Imprisonment , banishment, and then execution were their lot. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli all opposed them and encouraged the persecution. By 1529 most of the early leaders had been killed, but the fire was spreading all overEurope.
When I went to preach in Mull Baptist church I learned that in the 19th century that church in Bunnessan had to meet on the shore below the high water line, because the landlords would not allow them to gather for worship on their land. (When was it that Scotland was “the land of the Book”?) Obeying God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
In 40 years of following Jesus there have been many trailblazers who’ve inspired me, many of them preachers, evangelists, Bible teachers. The kind of people who get biographies written about them. But perhaps the greatest encouragement has come from folks like those Hebrew midwives, the thousands of ordinary people who followed the scriptures and the leading of the Spirit and refused to conform to the world or the Church, those early Baptists in Zurich and Mull, and friends around me who’re holding on to Jesus despite many trials and temptations, who fall but get back up again, who keep searching the scriptures and following the light wherever it (he) leads. And that includes you who are reading this with the desire to be faithful to Jesus, and I thank God for all of you , and all of them.