Stirred and empowered by God, Moses sets off for Egypt, bringing his wife and sons along. On the way, Moses still has to deal with his past transgressions before he can become the leader of God’s people.
So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”
“Go in peace,” Jethro replied.
Before Moses left Midian, the Lord said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.”
So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.
And the Lord told Moses, “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!’”
On the way to Egypt, at a place where Moses and his family had stopped for the night, the Lord confronted him and was about to kill him. But Moses’ wife, Zipporah, 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, the Lord left him alone.
God was about to kill Moses because Moses had not circumcised his son. Why hadn’t Moses done this? Remember that Moses had spent half his life in Pharaoh’s palace and half his life in the Midianite desert. He might not have been too familiar with God’s laws, especially since all the requirements of God’s covenant with Israel (Genesis 17) had not been actively carried out for over 400 years. But Moses could not effectively serve as deliverer of God’s people until he had fulfilled the conditions of God’s covenant, and one of those conditions was circumcision. Under Old Testament law, failing to circumcise your son was to remove yourself and your family from God’s blessings.
Before they could go any farther, Moses and his family had to follow God’s commands completely. Moses learned that disobeying God was even more dangerous than tangling with an Egyptian pharaoh.
Often we look for God’s leading in one aspect of life while ignoring the sin that remains in another area. But to God, we are whole people. Our whole lives are laid out before him. God does not just want compartments of us; he demands our whole selves. If you’re looking for God’s direction in one area, take an honest look at your whole life. What is God calling you to surrender to him?