Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
Before leaving his home for the last forty years, Moses took care of everything and prepared everything for his new journey to Egypt to do God’s will. Moses then took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to Egypt. In his hand, he carried the staff of God.
A few days ago, Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There God appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When God saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.
“Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your Father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.”
God explained why God came to Moses and then commissioned Moses to save the Israelites in slavery in Egypt. However, it was torture to Moses, which reminded him of his painful past. Moses put all his mental energy into forgetting for the past forty years, and he succeeded. Moses lived his peaceful life as a shepherd in the middle of the wilderness of Midian, where he did not even consider visiting when he was a prince of Egypt.
At that time, Egyptians said nobody lived there in Midian. It was true. It was a wild wilderness not like Egypt, civilized and filled with all good things. Moses especially lived in the best part of Egypt as a prince along with Pharaoh, the Egyptian king.
Moses got into real trouble that forced him out of the comfortable life in Egypt as a prince, and he got into the problem because he worked for the same God! Moses felt it was unfair. God only made Moses remember his painful past forty years ago.
Moses lived his purpose-driven life in faith for one mission to save his fellow Israelites in slavery. He firmly believed the mission came from God. Thus, his sole purpose in life as a prince in Egypt was to accomplish God’s mission. Then he diligently worked toward God’s mission. He did not waste his life at all and carefully invested his life in God’s mission. Due to his focused, purpose-driven life in God, Moses excelled in every aspect of his life. He was the top prince, and he was the best combat-trained prince. He was also best-educated in all knowledge subjects. He was the best at that time in Egypt.
Armed with his superior knowledge, combat skill, and leadership, he initiated his mission to liberate his fellow Israelites as he saw a perfect opportunity. However, the outcome was the complete opposite. His own people rejected him. Pharaoh ordered to arrest Moses to execute him. Moses fled to the land of Midian and became a fugitive in the wilderness of Midian.
After forty years, God suddenly came and asked Moses to return to Egypt and liberate the Israelites who rejected him. Moses struggled before God because God was about to commission Moses again for the same job that made Moses a fugitive in the middle of the wilderness of Midian. Moses could not remember how many nights he fought against the nightmare — his own people rejecting him and the Pharaoh’s soldiers searching house by house to capture Moses. Moses refused and refused God’s new commission by telling all kinds of excuses. To Moses, it was obvious that his people would change their hearts and accept him as the one who liberated them. He was a prince of Egypt, and he demonstrated his ability and will to save his fellow Israelites by killing one Egyptian slave master beating harshly one Israelite. Even so, they rejected Moses. Then what’s the reason why they would accept Moses as their liberator now?
Moses was truly persistent partly because of his painful memory and partly because he knew he was no longer the old Moses who was fully capable. However, God was persistent too. The battle between God and Moses was really tense. God kept going with Moses. Didn’t God know Moses’ painful memory? God knew exactly what Moses had gone through and was thinking at that moment. Even so, God kept pushing Moses. Why? This push from God was the essential ingredient to restore Moses. Throughout the discourse, God mended Moses and rebuilt Moses step by step to the new Moses by making Moses himself speak out what he could do and what he could not do with his humility before God, not as the top prince in Egypt.
Moses became truly meek and humble Moses asked a helper, not like the old Moses who was confident and also extremely capable. For this time, God comforted Moses by promising a human helper that Moses could lean on. The helper was not a stranger, but his own elder brother, Aaron. Indeed, Aaron helped Moses and walked with Moses for the rest of his life.
Ahead of Moses, God prepared key stakeholders and life influencers too. God touched the hearts of Moses’ wife, his son, his father-in-law, and other relatives.
Moses’ wife was sitting home and waiting for Moses to return. As soon as Moses got into the home, Moses said, “Let’s leave our home and go to Egypt to save the Israelites in slavery.” If you were Moses’ wife, what would be your response? Moses’ wife lived with Moses for forty years, and she loved her life with Moses. She comfortably lived with Moses. Moses was always faithful to her and her family. He built up all good things around her, including her family, her living quarters, and the large flock of their sheep. Suddenly, Moses wanted to leave everything behind, painstakingly built together with her for the last forty years and going back to Egypt? Why Egypt now? She carefully looked at Moses’ face while recalling that Moses came here from Egypt because of his colossal failure in Egypt. Moses now wanted to go back to Egypt to do the same mission that he failed before.
Suppose God did not touch Moses’ wife’s heart before Moses’ arrival. What would have been the conversation between Moses and Moses’ wife on that night?
Returning from a long day of work, Moses came into his tent without resting with his family. Then Moses said he would go back to Egypt. How about the conversation with Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro? Jethro knew Moses came from Egypt, and also he was a high rank Egyptian royal officer. Later Jethro was even more impressed. Jethro realized that Moses was the towering prince in Egypt.
After discovering Moses’ past, Jethro became concerned about his daughter and their marriage. However, Jethro had never seen any unexpected behavior of Moses due to the painful past. Instead, Moses was continuously most gentle and faithful to his daughter and him. None could match Moses, and Moses proved again and again as the best husband to his daughter and the best son-in-law to himself. Whenever Jethro saw Moses, Jethro’s face became brighter because Moses was always faithful for so many years.
Then one day, Moses told Jethro that he would leave behind all that he built up for his daughter, including her daughter’s stable life with sons and sheep for which Moses dearly cared. Jethro knew Moses risked his own life, not just once, but multiple times for his daughter, grandchildren, and sheep. However, God touched Jethro’s heart. As Jethro heard Moses’ decision, Jethro blessed Moses’ decision to go back to Egypt by saying, “Go in peace.”
Moses hurried for God’s mission to rescue the Israelites enslaved in Egypt, although they gave him great pain. He gathered his wife and his sons. He put them on a donkey and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand, he carried the staff of God, through which Moses experienced God’s miraculous power. Thus, to Moses, it was a truly special staff. It was the conduit of God’s power, and he felt God through the staff in his hand.
To Moses, his staff was the true connection to his sheep, which was the conduit to exercise his love of his sheep. He could not remember how many times he saved his sheep with his staff. He fought back against wild animals trying to harm his sheep with the staff. He also used the same staff to lead his beloved sheep. Whenever one of his sheep got astray, he gently pulled back the sheep into the herd with the staff. Now, as Moses used to tenderly guide his sheep, God was about to guide Moses for all circumstances to come in His love tenderly.
That night, God came to Moses again and told,
“When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go. Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me.” But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!’”
What God told Moses was not odd or strange, but it reflects God’s love toward Moses who was eighty years old physically on earth, but still to God, he was God’s child who needed God’s tender love and guidance.
How many times do we tell our children about the world and the reality that is not even close to what we usually say to our children when they are babies? But when the time comes as they are about to go into the real world leaving our protection, aren’t we telling the truth about the world?
God warned Moses, but God also added assurance by telling:
Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me.” But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!’” (Exodus 4:24)
Moses was truly impressed by God’s promise filled with God’s power. Was it even possible to kill the firstborn of Pharaoh? Who would even dare to say this? But Moses heard God clearly. It was God’s promise, along with God’s warning.
“When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go. (Exodus 4:23b)
Moses could not understand why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to refuse to let the Israelites go, although God performed His miracle through Moses Yes, not by Moses, through Moses. But Moses believed. Moses was no longer the old Moses, and he was humble and obedient to God.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)
God carefully watched what Moses was doing – communicating, convincing, preparing, and setting out to Egypt with his family. All were looked good and wisely done in faith in God. But Moses kept ignoring one critically important thing before God. It was so serious that God had to intervene Moses.
On the way to Egypt, at a place where Moses and his family had stopped for the night, God confronted him and was about to kill him.
Why was God about to kill Moses? What was the serious sin in Moses? Yes, Moses had one serious sin in Moses.
Moses could not speak up his faith in God to his family. Moses spent forty years painstakingly in the foreign land, Midian. His sons were half Midianites. Moses knew God’s command, but he could not circumcise his sons. He did not want to cause any conflicts among his family, and he just kept postponing his decision.
Here is the covenant made between God and Abraham. Abraham worked with God through the ups and downs for 24 years, and God made His solemn promise with Abraham to make him the father of many nations, and all people would be blessed through Abraham. God also promised to give Abraham his own child to be the seed of the great nations whom Abraham waited for 24 years. Then God asked one thing to do without an exception.
This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. … This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. … Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” (Genesis 17:10-14)
Moses knew this covenant, and it continuously bothered Moses. Moses sometimes talked about this covenant between God and Abraham to his wife, but he had never reached the need for circumcision on his sons. Not to conflict with his wife, Moses kept avoiding the conversation, and the conventional date for circumcision was long overdue. However, God had never forgotten. Moses was about to carry out God’s greatest mission, but God knew Moses could not accomplish it with a half-hearted faith. Moses knew it was sin, but he buried it in his heart. Thus, God directly confronted Moses for Moses and His mission to save the Israelites in slavery.
But Moses’ wife, Zipporah, quickly took a flint knife and circumcised her son. She touched his feet with the foreskin and said, “Now you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” (When she said “a bridegroom of blood,” she was referring to the circumcision.) After that, God left him alone. Moses’ wife, Zipporah had done wisely. It was the proof before God that she fully accepted Moses’ faith as her own personal faith. It pleased God, and Moses quietly watched what Zipporah did. Moses gave thanks to God for his wife, Zipporah. After all, Moses’ worry had no ground. Zipporah believed in God like Moses and believed in God. How did it happen? Moses’ faithful life for her and her family made her believe God that Moses believed. She also committed to keeping the same covenant that Moses keeps. Moses finally got the most needed spiritual helper for his mission, his wife, Zipporah.
Moses continued his journey to Egypt while giving thanks to God for all things that God did for him.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me. (Psalm 103:1-2)