A HARD HOMECOMING
Lord of my life, surprise me today with Your amazing grace and generous mercy.
Read EXODUS 4:18–31
Moses Returns to Egypt
18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”
Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”
19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”
24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses[a] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.[b] “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.
29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.’1 God calls us out of our comfort zones – promising comfort and a Comforter.
Today’s passage contains four references to returning to Egypt (vs 18–21). Although Moses had been born and brought up in Egypt, Midian had been home for 40 years. He had his family and he was settled, safe, and successful in his work. Returning to his roots would not only entail uprooting family but force him to face specters from his past and confront a harsh and hard-hearted Pharaoh. Going home was neither a comforting nor a comfortable prospect.
Both past and future may hold us captive. We can live imprisoned by the shame and regrets of bad choices or be paralyzed by fears about the future. Moses had killed a man and fled Egypt with a death sentence hanging over his head.2 Now, with the taunting ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’3 echoing in his ears, he must return to Egypt in the role of deliverer. Although ‘all those who wanted to kill you are dead’ (v 19), Moses will have to endure uneasy confrontations with an unpredictable and unreasonable ruler (vs 21–23).
Moses sets out for Egypt with God’s promises ringing in his ears,4 God’s staff clasped in his hand (v 20), armed with powerful signs to validate his message (vs 2–9,21). Although God paves the way, he doesn’t undertake to level the rough places. The ride promises to be a bumpy one, and it will take all the staying power Moses possesses to press on to the finish line. Verses 24–26 are enigmatic, but perhaps the reference to circumcision – the sign of covenant commitment – emphasizes the importance of wholehearted dedication for the task ahead. All of us need God’s grace to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’.5
What is your ‘Midian’, the place where you have become dangerously comfortable? What is the ‘Egypt’ to which God is calling you?
Merciful Father, if there is any sin or disobedience in my life hindering my effectiveness for You, bring it to my awareness. I confess it to You and embrace Your forgiveness.
1 2 Cor 1:5 2 Exod 2:11–15 3 Exod 2:14 4 Exod 3:16,17 5 Heb 12:1
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