Okay, so going on we find that Moses returns to Egypt. All the guys that wanted him dead are now dead so it’s safe to return. God tells him that he is to perform all of the miracles in front of Pharaoh, BUT God is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Verse 21,
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'”
Whoa…God hardens hearts? Why does He do that? Why would He do that? I sat wondering and pondering this thought for a while. I came up with some answers, but I wanted to know what others thought, so I went to my handy dandy John MacArthur Bible Commentary. Pretty much, God has involvement in mens’ lives of this sort so that His purposes might take place and be done. He doesn’t actually do it until chapter 9, verse 12 though. He’s just letting Moses know that He is going to do this. Don’t be surprised. Actually, Pharaoh hardens his own heart 10 times and the Lord hardens his heart 10 times. MacArthur states, “…the God who planned and brought about His deliverance of Israel from Egypt,…also judged Pharaoh’s sinfulness” (pg. 88-89). Wow, huh? I don’t know about you…but I don’t want my heart to ever be hardened. Romans 9:14-18 says,
“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”
God is not answerable to us. He rejected Israel because of their unbelief. Pharaoh did not believe either. We see this in chapter 5, verse 2 when he states he doesn’t know the Lord. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
We see all of the things happening that the Lord told Moses would happen in chapter 3 and the first part of chapter 4. Right before that though, there is a snippet of information thrown in and I was very confused by it. I thought maybe others would be too so I want to make sure to address it. Verses 24-26 seemed very out of place to me. Moses and his family stop to rest at a lodging place on the way. Read what the verses say,
“At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!’ So he let him alone. It was then that she said, ‘A bridegroom of blood,’ because of the circumcision.”
I’m not really sure why this is put in there. I’ve been thinking about it a lot really. It seems that you could have gone from verse 23 to verse 27 fairly easily and left this bit of information out, but God wanted it in there so we should definitely take a look at it right? I think sometimes it is easy to read something like this in the Bible, something that doesn’t seem to make sense right away to us, and just skip over it and keep on going. We’re not going to do that here though because believe it or not, there is something for us to learn from it.
Now, apparently, God isn’t happy with Moses. I mean, he sought to put him to death! I did some digging and found out Moses had failed to circumcise his son. This is a big deal. Really. I’ll explain why in a little bit. Zipporah figured out why God was unhappy and performed the circumcision quickly, but don’t be fooled. The act of it repulsed her and she didn’t like doing it. That is why she said “the bridegroom of blood.” Why would God be so unhappy about Moses’ son not being circumcised? Well, you have to know some of the history to know that so let’s get to it. God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 and we are going all the way back to that. Verses 9-14,
“Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner-those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.'”
Well…okay. It was pretty serious, right? Part of the covenant with Abraham… and Moses was one of those descendants God was talking about and that means so was his son. I’m not sure why Moses hadn’t had his son circumcised on the eighth day like God said to do, but he hadn’t been obedient to the terms of the covenant. This is important because participation in the blessings of the covenant was conditioned on obedience. Being circumcised and taking this step of obedience was like saying…if I am not obedient and faithful to the Lord, then let Him cut me off as I have cut off my foreskin. It’s a visual, right? The result of Zipporah taking this action was God letting Moses go and keep his life. Kinda makes you see the seriousness of keeping your covenants with the Lord, huh? MacArthur had something to say about circumcision too. He says:
“This surgery was designed to cut away flesh that could hold disease in its folds and could, therefore, pass the disease on to wives. It was important for the preservation of God’s people physically. But it was also a symbol of the need for the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. The really essential surgery needed to happen on the inside, where God calls for taking away fleshly things that keep the heart from being spiritually devoted to Him and from true faith in Him and His will….God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need for cleansing from sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners”(pg 850).
Ooooohhhhh…it’s a lot clearer now, isn’t it? What if you had skipped over those few verses? What needs to be cut out of your life? Anything keeping you from being spiritually devoted to Him? From true faith in Him and His will? Does sin’s deadly disease have a place in your heart? Turn, turn, turn! Cut it out! And notice…Moses was chosen to do God’s work even having this in his life…God doesn’t choose to use the perfect. They don’t exist!
So we get through those few verses and then we pick right back up where we left off. Aaron comes out to meet Moses and greets him with a kiss. Moses tells Aaron all that the Lord said to him and all the signs that He commanded him to do. Then they go to the elders and Aaron speaks the words and does the signs in front of the people. And the people believed, then bowed their heads and worshiped!
Let’s finish up with this thought. These people weren’t out of slavery. They were still deep in the muck of their situation, but they still bowed their heads and worshiped. I think it would have been easy for them to not believe or at least say…”Really?? That’s great the Lord has visited the people of Israel. We are SO stoked about that! We can’t wait to get to worship Him when all is said and done and we’re out of this stinkin’ mess!” They didn’t do that thought. They bowed their heads, which is a sign of submission in my world, and made the choice to worship. Nice, huh? What muck are you sitting in right now? Are you making the choice to worship and submit while sitting in it? OR are you getting nice and comfortable (and bitter) while you let the muck slide in between your fingers and toes waiting until you get through it all and then decide to worship? It’s easy to do that. It’s much harder to make the decision to worship when your situation sucks.