|Volume 24 Number 9 September 2022
Kevin L. Moore
A brief and obscure episode in Moses’ life is recounted in Exodus 4:24-26. After forty years in the land of Midian, the Lord sent Moses back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of bondage, initially taking his wife Zipporah and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 2:11-4:20; 18:2-6; Acts 7:22-36).
And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, 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 Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!” – because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26 NKJV)
Zipporah was a Midianite of the lineage of Abraham through his second wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1-4; Exodus 2:15-21). Presumably, the Midianites were also amenable to the covenant of circumcision that God had instituted with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:1-14). Zipporah’s father was the “priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16; 3:1; 18:1) who acknowledged and served the Lord (Exodus 18:10-12, 19-23). However, at some point the Midianites drifted away from the monotheistic faith of their ancestry and served other gods (Numbers 25:2). They became enemies of the people of Israel, luring them into sexual perversion and idolatry (Numbers 22:1-6; 25:1-18; 31:1-18; Judges 6:1-10, 14).
The fact that Moses was in danger of being struck down by the Lord suggests he had been negligent in observing the whole counsel of God. The words and actions of Zipporah reflect her contempt for a divine ordinance, regarding it as abhorrent rather than a solemn act of obedience. Seeing that only one of their two boys was circumcised on this occasion, the other son had likely been circumcised already, provoking the ire of Zipporah and thus influencing Moses to then appease his wife rather than the Lord.
As the recognized leader of God’s people, it was imperative for Moses to be an example of obedience and faithfulness, even in what might seem to be the smallest matters. Moses would go on to write, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). Moses’ life was spared when the law of God was obeyed, enabling him to continue his mission and be the instrument through whom the Lord would accomplish incredible things.
Lessons to Learn
Apostasy is a gradual process. It starts with what may appear to be the little things, digressing from and thereby straining God’s will and favor until complete estrangement results (Revelation 2:4-5). Whether spiritual degradation occurs within one’s lifetime or over generations, apostasy is a great tragedy with everlasting consequences for all who go astray (2 Peter 2:18-22).
Concerning the divine will, we must avoid trivializing, compromising or disregarding what might be perceived as merely minor elements. While certain aspects of biblical teaching are weightier than others, “…These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23).
It is vital that we exercise diligence in knowing, observing and defending the whole counsel of God. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).
It is dangerous to think we know better than God. Whether or not we understand, like or agree with what the Bible says, we must trust that God’s revealed thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Our circle of influence matters. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). This is especially true with respect to whom we choose to marry. Spousal influence can draw us closer to God or lead us farther away (Genesis 26:34-35; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; 17:17; 1 Kings 11:1-3).
Let us be committed to trusting and obeying the Lord in all things, no matter how trivial and insignificant it may seem from a worldly perspective.
Knowing Is Not Difficult.
The Doing Is What’s Hard.
I’ve been a Christian for 54 years. I met Alice when I was a university student, and I began going to daily campus devotionals with her and attended worship and Bible study classes with her, too. As a result, I was converted. I grew up in a very active religious family that was of the Pentecostal faith. My folks were good people and lived good, clean lives. They were hardworking dairy farmers who were the kind of neighbors we would all love to have. I loved them dearly, but they wouldn’t listen to what the Bible said! They could read and understand, but they just wouldn’t change and practice religion the way God said.
Since I became a Christian, I’ve seen many types of religious materials on how to convert more folks to Christ, and some of these are good. I just always remember the saying my five uncles who served in WW2 said many times: “Never sign anything while the band is playing.” Perhaps they had learned that the enthusiasm of the moment might not be the time to make a decision. There is a lot to be said for not allowing ourselves as Christians to be overcome by emotionalism or enthusiasm that is sometimes conveyed by some of these written materials that are available.
“Mission statements” come and go. There is only one mission statement for Christians, and it comes from God’s Word. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV). The passage says to go teach, baptize and teach some more – or at least, that’s the course to pursue according to other New Testament Scriptures (1 Corinthians 3:6; Acts 18:26-27). That’s simple, and many would pervert the simplicity of God’s Word to make it more enticing and to suggest more appealing ways of teaching the Gospel.
Some have been good enough to share with me some knowledge of a new book that is on the market. I appreciate those who have shared some thoughts about this book with me, and I applaud the literary efforts of the brother who penned the words. When the book was mentioned to me, I was a bit slow about responding and usually just say that I tend not to read that kind of book. My point is that I spend my reading time in the Bible itself, trying to understand what God’s intention for me really is in a given passage. I do recommend that kind of Bible reading. Recently, I read an article written by James Randal Matheny, entitled, “The Fellowship Room.” That got my attention, and I want to share one of his statements with you. He said, “Understanding God’s plan of salvation is not difficult. Following the Way, however, does present great challenges. The doing, not the knowing, is hard.”
We can share the Gospel message with someone in a few minutes, and, in a few hours, almost anyone can learn enough about the plan of salvation to obey it. That is fairly easy, but arising from the baptismal grave to walk the changed new life will require a lot of hard work. Satan will resist, and Christians must always carry “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). It takes dedication, commitment and motivation to remain faithful. Believers must study to know how to obey biblical principles beyond the “first principles” that led to obedience and get past “the pure milk of the Word” (1 Peter 2:2) to the “meat” (KJV) or “solid food” (NKJV).
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
When we fail to do so, we leave ourselves vulnerable to being led astray out of our ignorance.
The hard job of being Christians is to avail ourselves of the opportunity to learn God’s will for us. It will require a lot of help from His Word to find, know and do His will. The apostle Paul said it this way.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
God bless you in knowing and doing God’s will!