A House Divided

A House Divided
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 art thou to me. (Exodus 4:24-25)

Our passage is an insightful account of a situation in the life of Moses that put in jeopardy all the plans that God had for him. It teaches us that no matter who we are, or what great things God may call us to do, we still have to obey Him personally. This is the key thing. What good would it be to go tell Pharaoh and the Egyptians that they must obey God and then neglect to enforce that rule in his own house? Obedience must begin with the messenger. Nevertheless, Moses was dealing with a serious threat to his life and ministry right within his own family.

Enemies Unawares 

It is hard to read this passage without the words of our Lord coming to mind, “And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36 NKJV) It is hard to imagine how people who are dsigned to be close to us and have our best interest at heart could actually be our enemy. Leonard Ravenhill once stated that “anything we put before Jesus Christ is an idol, I don’t care what it is.” Certainly his quote would include people. For Moses to hearken to the voice of his wife instead of God would be to establish her as god of his life. Whether she was conscious that she was doing it or not — she was challenging God Himself. 

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) Understand that time did not change these people. In the centuries to come they will serve as Israel’s enemies. 

Relentlessly Evil

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 curse Israel against the counsel of God and met at angel in the doorway to waiting to kill him too. This is relentless evil. Peter comments on this incessant wickedness when he writes, “but he (Balaam) 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 was 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.” (Keil Delitzsch) 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. The apparent attitude was, “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 centuries later when Paul gave commandment concerning elders in the churches; One that leads well his own house, having his children in subjection with all submission; (For if a man know not how to manage his own house, how shall he maintain the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5) 

A Source of Division

Moses obeyed his wife instead of God and it nearly cost him his life. God had big plans for Moses; nevertheless, there was a great danger here. Sometimes a person can mistake God’s ongoing dealings with them as His Divine approval of how they are living. I don’t want to put words in Moses’ mouth, but I wonder if he figured, “Well, God speaks to me and He didn’t say anything about my disobedience. It must be OK. He must not care, otherwise He would have said something.” Whether Moses thought this or not we will never know. It is a deadly mentality. 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 and replaced him. Why? Because God is going to be glorified in 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 our 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 

There is another point that needs to be made here that is very relevant to our times. Moses was prepared to allow his wife to pressure him into compromising God’s word (standard) when it came to his children. This is where a great many people go wrong. Either the husband or the wife is not in agreement with God’s standards of righteousness and holiness and the children are put at risk. Can you hear the voice of Zipporah? No telling how many excuses the devil planted in her mind to mouthe to Moses in order to get him to back-off. Nevertheless, God does not have a lesser standard than He had for us and our forefathers. 

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) They had followed a pattern of life in circumcising their sons in each generation. 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. 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. 

Moses was expected to utterly obey God. Here is a man that in the years to come will speak “thus saith the LORD” and over a million people will hear and obey. As this great leader he had to utterly obey God. Long before Jezebel and Ahab ever existed that same spirit was trying to work in Moses’ own home. He had to come to terms with the fact that the enemy of obedience was in his own household. 

The Deceitfulness of Sin

Men and women sin when they perceive there will be no consequences, or if they perceive the consequences will be well into the future. If Moses had gotten by with disobeying God, he would have never rightly 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) 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 continue 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. Nevertheless, the day is coming — it is just not yet. 

Lifelong Struggle

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 his wife — to Balaam the prophet. Moses sent warriors out and utterly routed the Midianites. For a few centuries there was  rest from their antics. Then some 250 years after 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. 

We all have to deal with the voice of the Midianites in our lives. There will always be someone used of the Devil to get us to disobey God. They will have an excuse for everything. Nevertheless, better to hear a thousand snide comments like “a bloody husband art thou to me” than to compromise our faithfulness to God. 

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