Exodus 4:24-26 is very bizarre! I would love to hear any insights!
Here’s my attempt at an answer…
That’s a really good question, Marie. And a HARD one! I’ve been thinking about it and reading and wondering myself for the last few days!
The “Interpretation” Bible commentary offers some insights…
Though we don’t normally think of Moses this way, it seems that he was not so eager to be totally obedient to God. He argued, he whined, he seemed to mistrust the command and promise God had spoken to him. According to the commentary, “Apparently there is a matter between Moses and God that has not yet been resolved.”
One matter that clearly had not been resolved between Moses and God was the matter of circumcision. In Genesis, we read of the covenant between God and God’s people… and the sign of the people’s faithfulness to the covenant was circumcision. Moses wants to be included in the people of promise, presumably, but he has failed to hold up his end of the bargain. Is that why God tries to kill Moses? We are not sure. But it certainly seems that Zipporah’s quick intervention in circumcizing their son has an affect on the situation.
The commentary also notes we’re told that God “was about to,” or “tried” to kill Moses. This is the God of the universe, remember. The Creator of the heavens and the earth. What God wants to do, God does. Period. And yet, God didn’t just kill Moses. God came, with a serious intent no doubt, but left room for Moses to be protected. Perhaps was the overall goal not death, but a message instead?
It is thought that perhaps this is a time of testing for Moses. A time of preparation for Moses for the trials that are just around the corner. Again, quoting the commentary…
“He can now face any foe, no matter how hostile… This is a divine demonstration of the seriousness of the matter upon which God and Moses are about to embark: a life and death struggle in which Israel’s very life will be imperiled… Israel will be maximally dependant upon God’s decision and action on its behalf, yet Moses’ own obedience is integral to the divine mission… This (story) is thus a sign of what is at stake in all that which is to follow.”
Of course, that doesn’t answer all our questions. We don’t like to think of God as trying to kill people… especially the people whom He calls to serve Him! But once again, we must remember that we follow a God who is remarkably good, but who is certainly not safe (C.S. Lewis). We follow a God who died on a Roman cross, and calls us, if we want to follow Him, to take up our own crosses daily as well.
Oh He’s not safe. But He is good.