Living By Faith
Before we can even begin the journey of faith, we must learn some basic lessons from the life of Moses. Thus far we have seen that God wants us to understand that we are totally dependent upon Him. If we do not learn this lesson we will be unsuccessful in the life of faith. To fully comprehend this truth, we must rid ourselves of self image concerns and develop a healthy God image. We must know that we are mere crummy earthen vessels, but God has called us and chosen to use us. That makes us somebody, who, with His help, can do anything (Philippians 4:13).
That brings us to one of the strangest incidents in the Bible. We will divide the lesson into two parts:
Part One—Three Observations:
I.) The Lord sought to kill Moses (Exodus 4:24)
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
The first observation we make is that God sought to kill Moses. This is certainly a strange turn of events. Why would God want to kill Moses?
The context reveals two items of importance:
1.) God’s son (vs.22-23)
God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that Israel was His son and that He would slay the first born son of Pharaoh, if he did not let Israel go. Immediately, we jump from that to God sought to kill Moses.
2.) Moses’ son (vs.25)
God seeking to kill Moses had something to do with Moses’ son not being circumcised.
It sounds like we need to know something about circumcision. The first thing we need to know is that circumcision was a requirement of the Abrahamic covenant. All male Jewish children had to be circumcised.
Scripture: Genesis 17:9-14
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Notice that the soul not circumcised was cut off from his people. Thus circumcision was very important in the Abrahamic covenant. The son of Moses was not part of the Jewish nation, because he was not circumcised. Moses was going to Egypt to tell Pharaoh that Israel was God’s son, but his own son was not considered part of Israel, because he failed to circumcise him. To understand more, we must turn to the New Testament, where we find that it represents two things—neither of which has anything to do with infant baptism.
Because the Bible does not say anything about infant baptism, many groups reach to circumcision for an analogy. The book of Galatians deals with circumcision as a work of man. A good introduction to the book is found in Acts.
Scripture: Acts 15:1
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
The men who taught the brethren were known as Judaizers. They are the false teachers most often mentioned in Scripture. They came to the Galatian people and told them that trusting Christ was good, but to keep or maintain their salvation they must also follow Jewish customs and traditions, including circumcision.
This is very similar to the argument that infant baptism is necessary to salvation. It is very easy to see why they would appeal to circumcision as a type. But what does Scripture say? Paul argued in Galatians that this is nothing more than an attempt to mix works with grace for salvation. That is sort of like trying to mix oil and water. The two do not mix.
Scripture: Galatians 6:15
This verse tells us, as a work of man, circumcision has no saving merit. By the same token baptism cannot save either. Works do not save us today and did not save the Jewish people either. Salvation is now, always has been, and always will be by grace through faith.
Scripture: Romans 4:16
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Notice that salvation is by grace through faith so that the “promise might be sure.” If salvation depends upon our works, it is fickle and unsure, but because it depends upon God’s grace, it is sure and steadfast. God does not change, but we do.
The Jewish people were saved by grace through faith. Scripture records that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:13; and Galatians 3:6). When did this occur? Answer: Genesis 12: 3 - Abraham believed the promise and demonstrated his belief by departing (vs.4).
Paul correctly argued in Romans 4:9-12 that Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness (Genesis 15:6) before circumcision was instituted (Genesis 17) as a sign of the covenant. As a work of man, circumcision has no saving merit, but, as an outward sign of a covenant relationship that already exists, it teaches a second truth.
2.) Personal Separation
Scripture: Romans 2:28-29
To the Jew, circumcision was an outward sign they were God’s chosen people. It made them distinctly different from other nations of the world.
To the Christian, though, it is not the outward circumcision of the flesh that counts, but the inward circumcision of the heart. Judaizers, who try to follow the law, seek to lead separated lives so that they can earn or keep their salvation, but we are not of those. We recognize that salvation is by grace through faith alone and that we have liberty in Christ, but not a license to sin.
Scripture: Galatians 5:13-15
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.We are not to use grace as an occasion for sin. Rather we are to use our liberty to “by love serve one another.” We voluntarily separate to God out of love for Him and because He does a work in our heart. The only real difference between law and grace is that law unsuccessfully attempts to perform outwardly what grace successfully performs inwardly.
God changes the man of grace from the inside out.
God wanted Moses to know that He is holy and that He expects us to be holy as well (I Peter 1:16). God sought to kill Moses because he failed to practice personal separation. Many Christians sleep in Jesus because they wrongly use liberty as an occasion for the flesh and fail to practice personal separation. Sin always carries a high price (Romans 6:23)
II.) His wife had to do his job (Exodus 4:25).
The second observation is that the wife of Moses did his job for him. Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son. The job belonged to Moses, but he shirked his responsibility. God was ready to kill him for this, but Zipporah saved his life by doing it for him (vs.26).
Thank God for godly women to rescue godly men who shirk their responsibility. If it were not for godly women the church would have ceased long ago. We suffer from a shortage of godly men who will stand up for Christ and be counted. Too many try to get by with minimal attention to God. That has led to the sorry state we find ourselves in today. God wants men to take responsibility for their families. He wants men to provide spiritual leadership in the home.
III.) Zipporah resented doing the job (Exodus 4:26).
The third observation we make is that Zipporah did the deed, but resented doing it. She cast the foreskin at his feet (vs.25) and twice calls him a bloody husband (vs.25, 26). She was not at all happy.
Ladies, did you ever resent doing something for your husband? It was his job, but you had to do it. If so, you can identify with Zipporah.
It is easy to say, “I’m not going to do that.” But keep in mind that her act saved the life of her husband.
Simply doing the job, though, is not sufficient. Zipporah did the job, but allowed two sin problems to develop in her life:
Zipporah resented having to do this job. Instead of “doing all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31), she angrily did it. That attitude unconfessed can lead to an even bigger problem called bitterness (Hebrews 12:15). Ultimately, it will destroy relationships (Zipporah began the journey to Egypt, but went home after this. Her father had to reconcile them. See Exodus 18.)
2.) Self assertiveness
The resentment led to another sin problem that is highly advocated by modern psychology. It is called, “self assertiveness.” (Did you notice that word “self”? They tell us we need high self esteem and we need to be self assertive.) Zipporah asserted herself, and what did it get her? It got her a broken home and separation from her husband. The most miserable and unhappy people I have ever known have been self assertive (Proverbs 15:1). What does the Bible say?
Scripture: I Peter 3:3-4
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
In the sight of God, a meek and quiet spirit is of great price. That was written by Peter, who had to learn not to be self assertive. What counsel did he give? (I Peter 5:7) Instead of asserting ourselves, we are to let Christ deal with the matter. Can you imagine what would have happened if Christ had asserted Himself on the cross? He set the example for us (I Peter 2:21-25).
Moses by shirking his responsibility failed his wife and family. His poor leadership opened the door to sin and shut the door on relationship. By the same token he brought judgment from God upon himself. God holds men accountable for the home. Zipporah by doing his job saved his life and helped her family, but her resentment and self-assertiveness effectively undid any good that she accomplished. Instead of letting God deal with her husband (I Peter 3:7), she let him have a piece of her mind. In the end, she was just as guilty as he, and the family suffered terribly.
Next Lesson: Part 2