Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Exodus 4:24-26

TAKE TIME TO REFLECT:

The first lesson in leadership from Moses showed us that sometimes we must overcome our fears to lead. Oddly enough, almost immediately after that, God reveals to leaders the necessity of maintaining a proper fear. 

Undoubtedly Moses' fears of returning to Egypt lingered when he asked Jethro's permission to go back to visit his people in 4:18. Moses' request derived from custom and courtesy:
1. The custom of respecting elders by seeking their permission.
2. The courtesy of posing the question in such a way to Jethro so as not to alarm him of the dangerous task Moses was about to undertake.

It is Moses' sense of courtesy that accentuates his sense of concern. The task in front of Moses was still not lost on him: he was soon to confront the most powerful man in the world at that time. I sincerely doubt Moses felt confident at all; he was still very much afraid.

Exodus 4:24-26 exists, in part, as God's response to Moses' lingering fear. Doesn't it seem odd to you that the Lord sets out to kill Moses as he prepares to enter Egypt? How ought we to reconcile this text?

I imagine that Moses dealt with restless nights between the moment of the burning bush to his encampment on the outskirts of Egypt. If he was anything like me, he tossed and turned contemplating what lay in front of him. Yet, God showed up with a stark reminder. Who should Moses fear more, Pharaoh or the Lord? 

Moses had failed to circumcise his son in accordance with the covenant God made with Abraham (cf. Gen. 17:12-14). Which son had not been circumcised, whether it was the elder Gershom or the younger Eliezer (cf. Ex. 4:20; 18:2-4), is subject to debate. What is not debatable is that the Lord chooses this moment to teach Moses an inescapable object lesson.

Think about it. Moses is fretful about confronting the Pharaoh. On the cusp of this great responsibility, God demonstrates the greater cost of disobeying Him. It's almost as if the Lord is saying to Moses: "Are you still afraid of Pharaoh? I can take you out in the blink of an eye. Fear Me, not man."

The main lesson from the passage should thus serve as a reminder to God's leaders of whom we should fear. 

Am I worried about appeasing the whims of people, or am I concerned about the will of Christ? Am I driven by worldly accolades and affirmation, or am I dedicated to the advancement of Christ's name and kingdom? Do I fear more my standing in this world or my standing in the world yet to come? 

I suppose whom or what I fear boils down to where I place my faith: on that which is temporal or on that which is eternal. In fact, this may be precisely why Jesus declares, "Don't be afraid of people. They can kill you, but they cannot harm your soul. Instead, you should fear God who can destroy both your body and your soul in hell" (Matt. 10:28, CEV). 

Sure, Jesus is talking about salvation matters. To stand before the Father one day, we must have stood with Jesus in this day. But I certainly think His teaching has relevance for those called to places of leadership in His name. Let me never fear Pharaohs; let me only fear disobeying the Lord. 


TAKE TIME TO RESPOND:

How might God be teaching us today that obedience to Him takes precedence over other concerns of this world:

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TAKE TIME TO REVIEW:

from Best Devotional Commentary - "All that was required of Moses was that he do what he had been told to do, which is another way of saying that it was up to the Lord to perform the work (3:8) and that He would do so in His own way (cf. Judges 7:7), with Moses fitting into the divine scheme as instructed. Hence, the reminder to perform ... all the wonders (4:21). Did it seem pathetically silly to Moses to face the world's superpower by throwing down a staff, displaying and curing a leprous hand and turning water into blood? His was not to reason why! The Lord always gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). What were earlier called signs are here wonders, striking indications that a different power was at work, and Moses must publicly side with that power in a life of simply obeying" (Motyer).

from runner-up to Best Academic Commentary - "But if Moses was to carry out the divine commission with success, he must first of all prove himself to be a faithful servant of Jehovah in his own house" (Keil and Delitzsch).
     To carry over this principle into the New Testament, leaders ought to read and keep in mind 1 Timothy 3:5.

from Best Preaching/Teaching Commentary - "As strange as this experience may sound, it reveals the one true way of salvation. Every human being is a sinner who stands under the wrath of God. Like Moses, we have failed to keep God's law and thus are subject to God's curse against our sin. The only way to be saved from eternal death is for God's wrath to be turned aside, which can only be done through an act of blood (cf. Heb. 9:22). This is exactly what Jesus provided on the cross: a perfect sacrifice for sin, offered through the shedding of His own blood" (Ryken).

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