God was one who saw, heard and understood the pain of his people. (Ex. 3:7) He also witnessed their pride, idolatry and complacency. They were not quick to follow their God-ordained leader. They were not quick to listen to the revelation of God. Neither were they eager to walk by faith and leave the idols of Egypt behind. Nevertheless, God had decreed their bondage and their salvation, (Gen. 15:12-16) and it was time for him to act. God was ready to rescue his rebellious children and damn the rebellious Egyptians who horribly abused them.
Into the story came Moses. He was one educated by the church and the world. His Levitical family discipled him during the days of their influence. Pharaoh and his household did their best to train him in the things of the world. Ultimately, Moses was groomed to be a very fine military leader and governmental head; the future looked quite bright for him. However, according to the strange providence of God, Moses defended a Hebrew slave, killed an abusive Egyptian taskmaster, and was forced to leave Egypt and flee into the desert.
However, all was not lost. In the wilderness, Moses was met by his next teacher – Jethro, the Priest of Midian. For forty years, Moses grew as a worshiper, husband, father and shepherd. Then, at the appointed time, Moses was met by the ultimate teacher; the LORD personally visited him on Mt. Sinai. There, at the age of 80, Moses was personally recruited to be God’s redeemer, mediator and prophet. Moses was to be the savior, used by the Savior, to ransom God’s chosen people.
Following the conversation between God and Moses (more like an argument), Moses proved to be the faithful worshiper. He went back to Jethro, gathered his children, packed the rod of God, and set out to return to Egypt. Abraham showed faith in leaving Ur. Jacob showed faith in returning to Canaan and a waiting Esau. However, this was faith at an entirely different level. Here was a wanted shepherd returning to rob the most powerful man on the planet. The gates of hell were before Moses. He was walking into the kingdom of darkness. As Jesus Christ travelled towards Jerusalem on his last week of life, so Moses marched on towards Egypt.
But then it happened; a most odd interruption in the story occurred:
Exodus 4:21-26 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’ ” 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.
Moses was being sent by God to kill Pharaoh’s firstborn son. Ultimately, Moses was going to witness the divine execution of all the firstborn sons of Egypt. God was going to save Israel, his own firstborn son, and he was going to use Moses to accomplish this act of salvation and judgment. However, on the way, at the local rest area, the LORD flexed his mighty arm and almost killed Moses. The same LORD who knighted Moses on Horeb was about to kill him at the Motel 6. The only thing that saved the savior, was the quick worship of his wife, Zipporah. Obediently, she did what her husband should have done years ago. She circumcised her son, saved her husband’s life, and let Moses know she was not so happy with his patriarchal neglect.
Then, without missing a beat, the story continued. Moses had a reunion with Aaron, and together they marched into the land of Egypt.
Why would the inspired Moses record this incident? What are we to learn from this strange episode? Perhaps three points will help you better worship Christ today:
First, do not despise the worship ceremonies of the Lord. Circumcision may seem like a small issue to you, but it was not such to God. God had clearly instructed Abraham to circumcise all within his household, whether they possessed faith or not. He then commanded Abraham to pass along this ceremony to all those found communing in the Old Testament church. This was God’s distinguishing mark; his instrument for showing forth membership in the covenant community. God regulates his worship, and men must practice their holy religion according to God’s revealed will. Let us not forsake God’s regulations regarding leadership, vows, assemblies, prayer, fasting, anointing with oil, singing, preaching, dining at the Lord’s Table, and baptism. New Testament worship is much less regulated than the old covenant form, but it is not footloose and fancy-free. One who, like Moses, seeks to do great things for God, must be careful in the seemingly little things as well.
Second, do not busy yourself with saving the church or the world, and miss the ultimate responsibility of ministering to your own family. Moses was marching into Egypt to save Israel’s sons, and he had not first focused on his own child. Moses’ priorities were to be God, family, and then congregation.
Third, do not minimize the importance of godly spouses. A perfect Adam was not so good without his wife. Moses was in big trouble without his faithful bride. Aquilla needed Priscilla, and all elders and deacons need the encouragement and support of their godly wives. Without Zipporah, the story of Moses would have been greatly shortened. Without Zipporah, the story of Moses would have never been written. Without Zipporah, the Israelites would still have been found suffering under the bondage of the evil one. Behind every good man is a greater woman. Godly wives complete and improve their husbands.