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Holiness Hurts

Holiness Hurts

Exodus 4:24-26a

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. 

This is one of the most baffling interjectory scenes in all the Bible, because God has just finished commissioning Moses to go to Pharaoh, and without any qualifying statements, without any corresponding dialogue, He just suddenly decides to kill Moses along the way. But friend, if we don’t stop here to make sense of this scene, if we understand the lines as a chronological series of events with no gaps between them, then the picture that emerges of God isn’t pretty. Because, one moment, He’s walking patiently with His stubborn servant, and the very next He’s racing to kill him. Which makes Him seem just as erratic and reckless as the villainous Pharaoh who’ll soften his heart to Moses one moment and then race after him the very next. Yet God isn’t like Pharaoh at all, so that can’t be what’s going on here. Instead, we need to assume that somewhere between the burning bush theophany and the mountaintop meeting with Aaron, God gave Moses a single command. And just like His singular command to Adam and Eve in Eden, there was life and death in it. Why? Because His holiness is behind it. And holiness isn’t easy—it hurts sometimes—it takes all we’ve got: blood, sweat, and tears. So God told Moses to circumcise his son as a physical expression of divine uniqueness, but Moses decided it wasn’t worth the effort. He went back home to tell his wife that God didn’t mean it, that it wasn’t really all that necessary, that it wasn’t a big deal, but thankfully Zipporah had the wisdom to know better.  

Friend, is there a vice that’s keeping you from progressing in your walk of faith? A bad habit that needs cutting out? Something the Spirit’s been urging you to surrender, to take seriously, but you’ve been shrugging it off? Let Exodus 4:24-26 serve as your commission today: take out the flint and start cutting.