Obedience at Last
First that correction
In Exodus 4:18-31, We can read how Moses finally accepted God's call on his life, and stepped out in faith with God. Before I get into that though, I want to post a correction on my last post. At the end of my last post I made an error, I said that we never see in the Bible where Aaron actually spoke for Moses. Now, I said this because a teacher I respect very much had made a similar statement in their teaching recently, and rather than fact check, I assumed it to be true. Well, today's passage shows that it is not true, the Bible does record Aaron actually speaking for Moses. I went back and took the statement off of yesterday's post, but I also felt it necessary to admit my error and apologize. I should have checked the information myself, rather than just assume it was correct because of who said it. I will be more careful in the future.
Now, Moses Obeys
So back to Exodus 4 we read about the beginnings of Moses' official ministry. Several unclear things take place in this chapter though.
First in verse 18 we see Moses request permission from his father-in-law. Why he had to ask permission isn't clearly stated, perhaps it was just a sign of respect, perhaps it was to give his father-in-law notice since he served as shepherd of his flocks. Perhaps he had previously agreed to serve his father-in-law in order to gain permission to marry his daughter. Whatever the reason, Moses now asks if he can return to Egypt, but he doesn't really say why he is going. He doesn't tell Jethro about God's call, he doesn't tell Jethro that God spoke from a burning bush or that He chose Moses to free the children of Israel. Instead, he says he wants to go see if any of his family is still alive there.
Why didn't he disclose what he was doing?
Was he afraid Jethro wouldn't believe him?
Was he still processing for himself what God had asked of him?
The Bible doesn't say his reason, but we do see that in verses 19 and 20 God repeats His call, this time with the assurance that those who wanted to kill Moses are now dead, and that Moses leaves for Egypt with his wife and sons. Then in verses 21-23 God again instructs Moses as to what he is called to do. Perhaps Moses really did plan on only going to see if his family still lived. Perhaps his heart wasn't fully set on obeying yet. I know we often do the "half obedience" game with God. God calls us to tell someone the Gospel, but rather than tell them ourselves, we invite them to church so the Pastor can do it. We half obey and wonder why we get half results. Here Moses is headed to Egypt, but is he really planning to go to Pharaoh and demand that God's people be set free? The Bible isn't really clear, but we do see that for some reason, God decided it was necessary to tell Moses AGAIN what he was to do when he arrived in Egypt.
Then in verses 24-26 something happens that seems baffling at first glance. God comes to Moses and seeks to kill him, Moses' wife intervenes by circumcising their son, and God restrains from harming Moses. Why did God seek to kill Moses? Why did circumcision convince God not to do it?
The Bible leaves a lot unclear in this passage, but it isn't hard to infer what was going on. God had just called Moses to lead His people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had also called him to stand before Pharaoh and tell him that Israel was His first-born son, and that if Pharaoh didn't let Israel go God would kill his firstborn. Moses though, was not fit to lead the children of Israel because he had not obeyed the command given to Abraham and all of Abraham's descendants generations before. God had told Abraham that the covenant between God and Abraham's descendants required that every male be circumcised. This should have been done when Moses' son was 8 days old. The Bible doesn't say why Moses hadn't done it, perhaps his wife didn't want him to, since it wasn't a custom to the Midianites, perhaps that is why she seemed so angry about doing it, tossing the foreskin at Moses' feet and calling him a "husband of blood", or perhaps she was just angry that she had to do herself, when it really should have been Moses' job. Again the Bible isn't totally clear, but we do see that once the circumcision is taken care of, God lets Moses go.
In verses 27-31 we see the chapter wrapping up with God sending Aaron to meet Moses, and then we see them go together to Egypt to speak to the elders of Israel and tell them God's plan for deliverance, it is in these verses that we see Aaron speaking for Moses.
Thoughts for Application
The incident where Moses' wife had to circumcise their son to save her husbands life illustrates the importance of obeying what we already know God wants us to do. Often, we wonder why God doesn't speak to us and tell us what He wants us to do with our lives, but I think we should ask ourselves if we are obeying what He has already revealed of His will through His word.
Moses had no excuse for not circumcising his son. The Israelites had passed down that symbol of their covenant since Abraham, and even though Moses had been raised in an Egyptian household, he knew he was an Israelite, and had enough contact with Israelites to know about this requirement. Yet he didn't do it, and finally his wife was forced to do it with a sharp stone, in a rush, on a child much older than the ideal age for a circumcision.
In a similar way, we have no excuse for not obeying God in the things we know He wants all of us to do, to love one another, to obey His commands, to read His word and spend time in prayer. We may ask for further guidance, but one must wonder if He isn't looking at us and thinking, "Why should I tell you to do anything more when you aren't even doing what I already told you I wanted?
So I think the application for this passage is to obey, to obey fully (not half obedience), and to obey in a timely manner, rather than wait until we are backed against a wall.