After a lengthy conversation in Exodus 4, which at times almost turns into a debate, Moses finally arrives at the conclusion that God is right. So he makes his way back home from Mount Sinai to receive his father-in-law’s blessing to go to Egypt. All is well it seems.
That is, until Moses has an unexpected follow-up meeting with the Lord. For whatever reason, Moses had apparently neglected to circumcise his son and for that reason alone, the Lord intends to kill him. This is one of those intriguing passages of Scripture for which we may never have all the answers this side of Heaven. But God seeks Moses’ life, even after commissioning him to go to Egypt and deliver His people.
We find that according to Genesis 15, Moses was in direct violation of God’s commandment given to Abraham. Later on in Chapter 17 of Genesis, God gave explicit and direct orders that every male child was to be circumcised as soon as they turned eight days old. Moses himself was circumcised, as were all of the Hebrew males even to that day. Moses’ wife, Zipporah knew exactly why God was upset with Moses and she acted quickly to save her husband’s life, performing the deed herself with a razor-sharp stone.
When the Lord saw this, He released Moses and spared his life. And just as though nothing had transpired between them, He informed Moses that his brother Aaron was on his way to meet him and from there, they would continue on as planned.
So what was this strange encounter all about? And why was it so serious that God demanded Moses’ life? What kind of covenant – and God for that matter – were we dealing with here? In a quick scan of the internet, I found a couple of atheist bloggers bitterly accusing God of cruelty and unfairness in His dealings with mankind. Boo hoo.
The covenant was actually made between God and Abraham, so it existed long before the law of Moses. So we can’t say that God was being legalistic about it in demanding blood. Blood was not a requirement of this covenant, though clearly blood was involved.
No. For his own safety and well-being, it was mandatory for Moses to be under the covenant in order to fulfill his assignment and deliver God’s people from the land of Egypt. We weren’t dealing with kids here – this was the most powerful man and the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. And with one wrong move, Moses would be toast – and God’s children along with him.
For Moses to proceed without covenant protection was a death sentence. This was not just a matter of obedience. When God made the covenant with Abraham, He caused him to fall into a deep sleep. In that dream, Abraham witnessed the horrors of affliction and bondage God’s people would experience for 400 years. But God also promised in the dream that they would come out from that land with great riches.
Abraham had prepared several carcasses to seal the covenant between himself and God, but God alone passed through the midst of the sacrifices while Abraham slept, signifying that God placed the fulfillment of that obligation solely upon Himself.
So when Moses attempted to go ahead apart from this covenant, he was in essence, going in his own strength. Without God’s power, the result would have clearly been an early day Holocaust. And God would simply not have it. His people had suffered long enough and the time was now to fulfill His promise and covenant with Abraham. So it was the mercy of God that met Moses on the way and sought his life. And God also foresaw that Moses’ wife would step in to make things right. What a helpmate to Moses she was that day.
Things aren’t much different for you and me. God has an assignment for both of us that is possible to accomplish only in His power and strength and ability. You and I will be the vessel that God uses for His power, but other than that, we are merely going along for the ride.
I don’t want to make it sound like you’re indispensible. You’re important to God and the assignment He has for you. He loves you and esteemed you of higher value than His own Son. But without Him, you will make a royal mess of things not only for yourself, but for the people around you.
This is a powerful principle that each and every one of us must learn and put into practice. Today, we have a New Covenant, sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ. As the old hymn declares, it will never lose its power. And yet, we can choose to operate under that covenant or apart from it in our own strength. The more experience and education you have, the more difficult it is to get this. But nonetheless, you will be held responsible for your decision and actions that follow.
Back in 2001, I attempted to plant a church. I took a full six months to prayerfully prepare and when I stepped out, things went well in the beginning. The problem was, somewhere along the line I unknowingly left God’s side to go and fulfill the assignment on my own. It cost me everything. But I learned from it.
Are you operating in your own strength and ability as you attempt to fulfill the assignment God has given you or are you trusting in His wisdom, His strength and His ability each step along the way?
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