This love story has such a twist at the end that when most people first read the story in the Bible they think they read it wrong – Right after calling him at the burning bush God tried to kill Moses – and it seems so contradictory, so strange, that we tuck that passage into the file of the unexplained and read on.
Setting the stage
We are told in Acts 7:21-25: “When Moses was full forty years old it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel…seeing one of them suffer wrong he struck down the Egyptian, supposing his brethren would have understood that God by his hand would deliver them, but they understood not.”
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Moses was a great Army General, so we understand Moses thought he would deliver Israel through civil war. Knowing he was the delivered 40 years before the burning bush experience, he killed 1 Egyptian and assumed they would follow him in a rebellion that would result in freedom. He had the divine revelation about his call, but not how it would happen. He tried to help God by figuring the rest out based on his education and military experience – kill 1 Egyptian, the people will rally around him and start a civil war – right? Wrong.
Revelation is here a little and there a little. God often gives us a small part, then lets us walk some things out, and then gives us the rest later. For instance in Genesis 15 He told Abraham he would have a son from his own body. But that is all He said. In Genesis 16 as Abraham and Sarah talk it out, they decide since she is barren, it must be through someone else, and so in desperation to see God’s will done in their life as well as wanting a son, she tells him to get Hagar pregnant, which he does.
It isn’t until the next chapter, 17, that the Lord again appears to Abraham and tells him Sarah will be the mother of the son…OH…where has that information been hiding Lord? Would have been nice to know back in chapter 15 as that would have saved me from getting Hagar pregnant…! So He gives us revelation in pieces. Our job is not to think 1 piece of the puzzle is the whole puzzle and then get ourselves into trouble as Abraham and Moses both did. We are in good company at least!
Unlike the movie and most Sunday school lessons
Another lesson is to realize that just because you have a revelation from God it doesn’t mean He has given others that same revelation. It is first and foremost to you, one on one between you and the Lord. Many people like Moses commit the sin of presumption, thinking because they have a revelation from God surely everyone else must either a) have that same revelation or b) will believe you when you tell them what He has told or shown you. Wrong. It is your revelation, not theirs.
Moses was 40 when he received the revelation that he was the deliverer, but that sin of presumption cost him 40 years, one third of his life in the wilderness. It wasn’t until 40 years later at age 80, that the Lord appeared to him to tell him how his call would come about. All that time he knew he was the delivered, but not the how.
Moses and Zipporah, and their son Gershom
In Exodus 2:16-22 we are told after leaving Egypt in faith yet mentally and emotionally confused and wondering what he did wrong, he came to a well where Jethro the Priest of Midair’s daughters were watering their flocks. Some shepherds tried to take over for their own flocks, but Moses defended the daughters, which was told to Jethro. Moses soon married Zipporah, one of Jethro’s daughters, and they had a son named Gershom, which means ‘a traveler there’.
What he was told at the burning bush
That he had a son in Midian is important to this story – Gershom wasn’t Israeli, but a Midianite. That means uncircumcised. At the burning bush Moses is told then and there about all the plagues that would happen*, even down to the detail of them eventually receiving from the Egyptians gold and silver if they would just leave them alone, and most importantly: The death of the first born. He knew the firstborn would die at the burning bush before he even returned to Egypt. *Exodus 3:14-22, 4:1-23
“And you will say to Pharaoh, ‘Israel is my son, my first born and I say to you, Let my son go that he may serve me. And if you won’t let him go I will slay your son, your firstborn.” v23
The twist – Attempted execution
Right after these words in verse 23 about killing Egypt’s firstborn it says this: “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and threw it at his feet and said, ‘A bridegroom of blood you are now to me.’ So He (the Lord) let him go. Then she said ‘A bridegroom of blood you are because of the circumcision.’” Bridegroom of blood means brand new into the covenant.
It was the astuteness of Zipporah and her love for her son, her husband, and for what is right and wrong that she proved at this point she was more spiritually in tune with the Lord’s call on their lives than was Moses. He had just been told the firstborn of Egypt would die and he understood circumcision was the sign of being in covenant with the Lord, yet Moses was a neglectful father in this regard. IF he had gone into Egypt the text infers Gershom would have died with the first born of Egypt.
Moses had been so busy with ‘work’ and focused on his life he didn’t think through what it meant to his son. We place such emphasis on the Passover blood we forget that every Israeli male in Egypt was circumcised and that is the foundational truth of why they were not killed with Egypt’s firstborn – the Passover blood is secondary.
From the Lord’s perspective, once Moses knew the plan, he was immediately accountable. Once the Lord says it, it is done. It is ‘real time’. This is consistent with the Mark 6: 51-52 comment that the disciples’ hearts were so amazed Jesus had walked on the water because ‘they considered not the miracle of the loaves’. If you recall that story Jesus had fed the 5,000, then sent them in a boat across the lake at sundown which they found to be hard going, and He came walking on the water to them between 3am and 6am.
When exactly were they to have ‘considered the miracle of the loaves’? They had been working hard all night just to cross the lake – and yet God had that expectation on them to have considered what they had just seen. Same with Moses. When God says it or does a miracle in our lives we are to move that to highest priority and give ourselves to it to consider it, remember it, learn from it. How often does He do something for us and we just say ‘thanks’ if even that, and keep going.
We need to be as astute as Zipporah who recognized when God does or says something, it is done right then and there and we need to make that our top priority. We still must follow logic and do right in the natural, but as a priority, what He says jumps to the head of the line. Last of the series next week, until then, blessings,