Back to Egypt – Exodus 4:18-31

In Exodus chapter 3, God called Moses to go to his people and tell them that He had heard their cries and would deliver them! But Moses objected saying, “Suppose they won’t believe me;” then he objected again saying that he was not eloquent in speech. In total Moses’ objected four times to God’s call to go back to Egypt. As we begin our text this week in chapter 4 verse18, Moses finally obeys God’s call by making his way back to Egypt. We will open up our text in four sections linked by the idea of obedience.

  1. obedience to the call (v. 18-19). Moses obeyed God’s command to go, by first seeking the permission of his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro’s reply was, “Go in peace.” Again God commanded Moses to go, assuring him that those seeking his life in Egypt were now all dead.
  1. obedience to go (v. 20-23). Moses took his family and journeyed back to Egypt. The Lord told him to perform miracles before Pharaoh, foretelling that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, resulting in the death of the firstborn sons in all of Egypt, if Pharaoh would not let the people go.
  1. obedience on His way to Egypt (v. 24-26). On his way back to Egypt, Moses stopped for the night at a lodge where we learn, “the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.” This is one of the hardest texts in Exodus to understand because of the suddenness and brevity of the scene. But it reveals that Moses failed to obey God in a very important matter; he failed to circumcise his son – a clear commandment given to Abraham and all his descendants in Genesis 17:9-14. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant and set God’s people apart, and Moses did not obey that command. Instead his wife Zipporah did it for him, perhaps even sparing Moses’ life.
  1. obedience to enter Egypt (v 27-31). While God was dealing with Moses He was also calling Aaron, who obeyed the call and met Moses at the mountain of God. Moses and Aaron gathered the elders, and the people believed that God had heard their cries so they worshiped Him.

There is much to glean from this text for the church today as we ask ourselves: Am I obeying all that God commands? What happens when I do not obey? Does God bless obedience? Do I presumptuously rely on the fact that I am forgiven and leave it at that? Or do I strive for greater obedience?

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