Question: What was the reason for God wanting to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24-26?
Exodus 4:24-26 “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.”
This event took place when Moses was on his way back to Egypt, and the passage says that “the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.” But what was the reason for this?
In Exodus 4:25-26, Zippora, the wife of Moses, knowing that the LORD sought to kill Moses, took a flint and cut off their son’s foreskin. This shows us that Moses did not do something God required of Him, and that was to circumcise his son. According to the covenant God made with Abraham, every male is to be circumcised, and any uncircumcised male was to be cut off from his people because he had broken the covenant.
Genesis 17:10-14 says, “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Moses had neglected to circumcise his son. Why did this warrant God’s great displeasure to the point that He sought to kill him? The reason could be that God called Moses to accomplish His purposes through Him. The importance of this calling was that God was going to use Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he was to receive the Ten Commandments from God, he was to author the first five books of the Bible under divine inspiration, he was to perform miracles, and lead the people of God as their leader. This is no small calling, but one that will have huge impacts and implications not only in the lifetime of Moses and the Israelites but to all who would come to believe in Jehovah right down to the present time who are born again in Christ.
It was important because it displays the holiness and the unchanging character of God. So if Moses is to carry out the divine commission of God and be a faithful servant in all God’s house testifying to the things that were to be spoken later (Hebrews 3:5), then this was a lesson for Moses. By postponing the requirement of circumcision and dishonoring this sign and seal of the covenant, especially because Moses understood the will and law of God, it was unacceptable. How can the one who was to receive the law of God violate God’s requirements? Moses would be the leader who would have to pass judgment on those disobeying this very requirement, yet Moses himself was guilty of this disobedience.
To whom much is given, much is required. Jesus says in Luke 12:48, “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” The Bible tells us that leaders will be held to a much higher standard. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Moses was to be an example not only to Israel but also to the people of Egypt and the Pharaoh’s household and all the nations they would be engaging. The life of Moses had to be in order first before he spiritually directed the lives of others. Moses had to understand the true holiness of God, His righteous requirements, and the seriousness of disobedience. Because of the weaknesses of Moses, and by God showing Himself to be a Holy, non-compromising, non-changing, perfect God, it meant that all this led Moses to trust in God and being obedient humbly. Because of these, he is considered the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. Moses wasn’t perfect, but God was.
Ultimately it was a similar disobedience that led God to prevent Moses from entering the promised land. In Deuteronomy 32:51-52, we read that Moses could not enter the promised land because he broke faith with God at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin. He was not treating God as holy among the people of Israel. God had commanded Moses to speak to the rock, but instead, he struck the rock. Moses disobeyed a direct command of God.
In conclusion, God sought to kill Moses so that he would know the seriousness of disobedience, especially of one to whom was given a great task of leading the people of Jehovah. He was to lead by example and reflect the righteous requirements of God and be an example to the people.