Called, but Almost Killed
Robert Wurtz II
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband artthou to me. (Exodus 4:24-25)
Moses’ wife Zipporah was a Midianite and apparently refused to allow her son to be circumcised. The Midianites already had a history with the people of God at this juncture. You will remember that it was the Midianites that sold Joseph into Egypt in the first place. (Genesis 37:36) Time will not change these people. In the centuries to come they will serve as Israel’s enemies. It was the Midianites, along with Moab, that hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.(Numbers 22:4-7) When Moab gave up, Balaam, a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15), hung around with the Midianites as an adviser for evil. (Numbers 31:16) This is the same man that tried to go and curse Israel against the counsel of God and met at angel in the doorway to waiting to kill him too. Peter comments on this as well, “but he was rebuked for his own lawlessness: a dumb donkey speaking with the voice of a man restrained the madness of the prophet.” (2 Peter 2:16) The Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:14 tells us that Balaam taught the people to commit idolatry and fornication. Historically we know that this combination idolatry/fornication was of a terrible sort. His point was that there were people doing this very same thing in the church at Pergamos. Peter tells us that these are the type of men that promise freedom, but are themselves servants of corruption. The darkness of hell has been reserved for such. (2 Peter 2:17) This is the Midianite way.
Called to obedience
“If Moses was to carry out the divine commission with success, he must first of all prove himself to be a faithful servant of Jehovah in his own house.” (K&D) The key words here, “…in his own house.” Moses had two sons and only the older one had been circumcised. Obviously Zipporah did not like the practice and it was an area of strong contention in the home. As if she would say, “We circumcised my firstborn; were not doing that to this son!” The penalty for not circumcising was death, but since this was a child the responsibility fell to the father. Moses, as the head of the household, was responsible before God to follow the commandment. He defied God by obeying the voice of his wife. We have a comment some centuries years later when Paul gave commandment concerning elders in the churches; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
A divided house
Moses obeyed his wife over God and it nearly cost him his life. God had big plans for Moses. Maybe Moses figured, “Well, God was just speaking to me and He didn’t say anything about it. It must be OK. He must not care.” Yet visiting with God should have brought the issue up before his own mind. Why should God have to keep telling a person to do something they already know they should do? What happened? And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Some might say, “You mean God was really going to kill Moses.” That’s right. But what about his calling? What about the plans to lead the people out? I am convinced that had Moses not followed through with circumcising his son God would have killed him. Why? Because God is going to be glorified by our lives one way or the other. He will either be glorified by our obedience or he will be glorified by the demonstration of the consequences of disobedience. God cannot use a person that obeys others in front of Him. Fortunately, Zipporah recognized that God meant business and had the good sense to change her mind; though she did it reluctantly and grudgingly.
The God of Thy Fathers
When God got ready to speak to Moses He introduced Himself saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:33) If Moses, as the leader of Israel, did not maintain continuity with the past he would have been starting a new religion. It would have been false. He was expected to walk in the steps of the faith and obedience of his forefathers. God does not change, so Moses was to serve God according to the revelation given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that God had given Moses the same commandment concerning circumcision that He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was the sign of the covenant. He was expected to maintain the same level of obedience that they had exhibited. There are no privileged characters in the program of God. Moses was expected to utterly obey God. Here is a man that in the years to come will give a command to step forward and over a million people will take a step. As the leader he had to utterly obey God. He found that the enemy of obedience was in his own household.
The deceitfulness of sin
If Moses had gotten by with disobeying God he would have never reverenced God. Sin is deceitful when God’s judgment is not swift. Solomon said it this way, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Men and women sin when they perceive there will be no consequences or if they perceive the consequences will be well into the future. David said it a little differently, “The transgression of the wicked says within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Psalms 36:1b) In other words, when I see people in sin and compromise it is evident that they are devoid of the fear of the Lord. Because judgment is not instant, people carry on like God will never bring them into judgment. But the day is coming. It is just not yet.
Moses dealt with the Midianites at the beginning of his calling and at the end of his life. They were constantly trying to bring the people of God down. From Zipporah the wife to Balaam the prophet. Moses sent warriors out and utterly routed the Midianites. For a few centuries their was rest from their antics. Then some two hundred and fifty years after this the Midianites had regained their ancient power, and in confederation with the Amalekites and the “children of the east” they made war against the the Israelites, whom for seven years they oppressed and held in subjection. They were at length assailed by Gideon in that ever-memorable battle in the great plain of Esdraelon, and utterly destroyed (Judges 6:1-7). Frequent allusions are afterwards made to this great victory (Psalm 83:10, Psalm 83:12; Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:6). They now wholly pass away from the page of history both sacred and profane. (Easton) God finally dealt Midian it’s death blow and He did it through total obedience to Him.