Read: Exodus 4:17-26
I don’t like this passage of scripture. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Most pastors ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Most Christians are happy to overlook it too. God has just recruited Moses to lead God’s people out of captivity in Egypt to freedom in the promised land. God had to argue, persuade, promise, and finally even get angry with Moses and insist that Moses do what God had in mind. So, God successfully recruits Moses, and Moses begins the journey back to Egypt as God commanded. Then comes this odd story.
Moses, Zipporah (Moses’ wife), and their baby are on the way to Egypt, and in the middle of the night the Lord comes to their tent prepared to kill Moses! What!? That doesn’t make sense. True. Zipporah grabs a knife, performs an emergency circumcision of their baby, and the Lord relents and does not to kill Moses. What’s going on here? Is the Lord upset that Moses hadn’t circumcised their baby? It seems so. Was the Lord so irate that God was willing to kill Moses? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense.
There are things in the Bible that are hard to understand, but if we do the work, and engage the studies, we will come to a greatly enriched understanding of the Bible. And, then there are some things in the Bible that do not make sense no matter how hard we work to try to understand them. Let me say that the effort is well worth it to wrestle with the scripture, do the study, meditate on the meaning of scripture, and to pray for insight. And it’s ok if you can’t have an answer for every question of faith.
It is likely that this odd story was used many generations later to impress upon couples the importance of having their babies circumcised. The Bible doesn’t dwell on this odd passage, and we shouldn’t either. It’s one of the few places in the Bible that I haven’t found a satisfying answer. What can we take away from it? That it’s ok to question. It’s ok to not to have the answer. It’s even ok to doubt or disagree with scripture when it seems to conflict with the predominant, clear message of the rest of the Bible. Not all Bible verses or books of the Bible have the same importance or level of inspiration. Remember, faith isn’t about having all the answers; faith is about seeking and trusting God, even when you don’t have the answers.
Pastor Rob Nystrom