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Have the faith and obedience of Abraham

And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Exodus 4:24

Most of us remember the story of Moses and the ark of bulrushes; it was placed in the reeds by the river’s side. Then God prepared Moses while he was growing up in the royal court. After Moses fled from Pharaoh, he spent many (possibly 40) years in the wilderness, which also helped to prepare him to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses was more than qualified for the task that God was calling him to do. But we must go back many years, to the time of Abraham, to be able to understand the text (Exodus 4:24), and why God dealt with him the way He did. This gives us a little background for the verse we are going to look at.

All my life I have wondered about the meaning or reason behind this verse. I even knew most of the background behind it, but never fully understood it. Exactly what happened in that situation, did God just go off in the head as we say today? Sometimes we talk about individuals who throw temper tantrums or even get violent, if they can get away with it. Is that what God did, did he lose His head?

In Exodus 4:1-23, God is preparing Moses to go before Pharaoh to perform signs and wonders on behalf of his brethren, the Israelites. Then verses 24-26 seem to drop out of the sky, almost out of nowhere. Where did that come from? Why was that put in there? What’s going on here?

A small part of the answer has to do with Moses and his disobedience. God was preparing Moses to go on an important mission. Submission, obedience and faith would be needed, if he was ever going to accomplish what God wanted done. To be God’s representative, he had to be an example in word and action; much like church leaders should be today, according to God’s requirements in I Timothy, Titus, and I Peter 5:1-4.

This was the heart of the problem, Moses was living in disobedience to the God he claimed to serve. God had appeared to Abraham and made a covenant (an agreement) with him around 400 years before this, Genesis 15:13. That covenant was dependent upon the obedience of the people to the commands or directives of that agreement. In Genesis 17:9, “God said to Abraham: As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

So here is one piece of the puzzle, Moses was living in disobedience to God. To fully realize the importance or weight of the disobedience of Moses, we must consider two other passages. In Genesis 17, when God made a covenant with Abraham, Abraham circumcised his son Ishmael and every male of his household. He did this the very same day that God made a covenant with him. Moses would have known the necessity of keeping the covenant. Some people believe he was unequally yoked with an unbeliever. His wife was a Midianite and was probably not in favor of circumcising her boy.

Another passage we should look at is Numbers 15:32-36. In this passage the children of Israel find a man (apparently living among them) gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. God had already made another covenant with the Jewish people and the Sabbath Day was the outward sign. If a person was not in obedience to God’s command, it was the same as rebellion and total disregard for God’s covenant. It would be like people professing to be Christians today, and choosing to live in sin and rebellion against God and His word. God directed Moses and the congregation of Israel to take the man outside the camp and stone him to death.

There were many times in the Old Testament where the principle, “do or die” was reality. That’s how serious it was to break God’s covenant and disregard His commands. Moses was not ready to be a leader until he had the faith and obedience of Abraham. Years before this, Moses had tried his own way of helping his brethren, now God wants him to do things His way. Obedience and faith were two necessary items on his resume, if he was going to be the leader of Jewish people.

Are we acting in faith, are we living in obedience to his revealed will? If we would be what God wants us to be, and accomplish what He wants us to do, we must have the faith and obedience of Abraham! Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com.

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Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published three books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017 and “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.

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