God finally gave Moses his way and appointed a spokesperson. So Moses went off on his way to Egypt, ready to obey God’s calling. He had his father-in-law’s blessing and the LORD’s assurance that the Egyptians wouldn’t try to kill him the moment they recognized him. However, before Moses even steps foot in Egypt, there is a little known event that happens during which God actually tries to kill him. It’s an event that covers a mere three verses, but I feel it is important to note as we study the journey of Moses from cowering prince to fearless leader of Israel. Let’s take a look at what happened.
“At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!’ So he let him alone. It was then that she said, ‘A bridegroom of blood,’ because of the circumcision.”
This may seem like an odd passage to study and, at the very least, a very awkward one. However, this small incident is crucial to understanding how God works and what He values in His leaders. Once receiving our call and starting a personal relationship with the Lord, God wants purity in His followers.
Circumcision was a special outward symbol of the eternal covenant God made with Abraham. It was a mark of being different from the world; set apart for the Lord. Therefore, God commanded all Abraham’s male descendants to be circumcised.
Remember, the command of circumcision came before the Law, because God used Moses to write the Ten Commandments later on. So in Moses’ time, the only real command Israel needed to obey was that of circumcision. Therefore, for Moses’ household to not be compliant with the one thing God required was not a good thing.
As the deliverer and God’s special leader of Israel, Moses would be an example. A person thousands would look up to and follow. So he needed to do things right. Moses couldn’t lead Israel on behalf of the Lord and yet be disobedient to the very first command God gave.
So after Moses gathered his family and began the journey back to Egypt, God tried to kill him. Why? Because God requires purity in His leaders. They can’t lead for the Lord and yet be disobedient at the same time. Therefore, Moses’ disobedience almost cost him his life. But Zipporah—Moses’ wife—figured out what was going on and remedied the situation. She circumcised her son and saved her husband’s life.
This may seem like an extreme situation. Why would God want to kill Moses after He just appeared to him in the burning bush and gave him miraculous signs? Why didn’t the LORD just talk to Moses about this situation and give him a warning like, “By the way, before you go back to Egypt you really should circumcise your son”?
I think it was to warn both Moses and ourselves. It was a lesson that even though God may give a special calling and mission it doesn’t exempt one from obeying the simplest of commands. We must get the fundamentals down first before God can entrust us with big things. For Moses, circumcision may have seemed like a small thing, a thing easily overlooked; however, to God, this was a make it or break it issue. He was ready to kill Moses for the lack of obedience.
Therefore, we must be extra vigilant to stay pure and obedient to all God’s commands—especially in the small things. If we want to be used by God, we must remember that first and foremost God wants obedience and purity in every area of our lives—small and large.
Your turn: What are your thoughts on this passage? Have you ever given it much thought? Did you even know this incident happened in Moses’ life?
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