Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.” Exodus 18:1-6
We last saw Moses with his wife, Zipporah in Exodus 4:
Exodus 4:24-26 (HCSB)
On the trip, at an overnight campsite, it happened that the Lord confronted him and sought to put him to death. 25 So Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw it at Moses’ feet. Then she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.
Moses is making his way to Egypt when he is visited by the Lord. Apparently, he failed to circumcise one of his sons before leaving. It is interesting that the Scripture only speaks of one son. Could it be that when he circumcised the first son, Zipporah found it so repulsive as she indicates in verse 25, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” that Moses decided to forego the covenant rite of circumcision at the birth of his second son? After all, he is in the desert, herding cattle, long forgotten by God and his people.
We really don’t know, the Scriptures do not say but they do teach us the importance of the Lord’s children being faithful to God NMW.
Zipporah’s repulsion of circumcision would not be sufficient reason for disobedience to God. I believe this to be of utmost importance for the times in which we live. There is no sufficient reason for disobedience and there is no such thing as partial obedience.
Moses’ disobedience, his failure to treasure the covenant sign of circumcision was about to cost him his life for it was important to God. Thank God, his repulsed wife understood this when God came to confront the issue of obedience with Moses, that God’s word must be obeyed. How privileged we are to live on this side of the cross where our obedience is the overflow of love for the One who gave His life for our redemption.
We don’t know if this event was the reason but we do know that at some point and time, Moses sent his wife and children back home to live with her father, Jethro. Today’s Scripture picks up right after God had proven Himself strong in battle as He gave Moses and the Israelites great victory over the Amalekites. Moses understood that it was the Lord who had fought the battle and he built an altar to praise and remember that Jehovah Nissi was His standard bearer.
Today, we pick up with Exodus 18 and see that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law , has “heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt… Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”“
As I meditated upon this passage of Scripture, I gave thought to Jethro and what his thoughts might have been when his daughter returned home prior to Moses returning to Egypt. Can you imagine? “I have an assignment from the Lord and need to leave the wife and kids with you. I am to go to Egypt and deliver His people, the Israelites, from the hand of Pharaoh, I am going to set them free.” I can imagine that Jethro may have at least thought in his mind, “The Pharaoh of Egypt? Really? Well, I’m glad my daughter and grandchildren have come home and will not go on this journey with you. I will wait to see the day that your assignment is complete. I’ll bring them back to you when it does.”
Verse 1 says Jethro heard of EVERYTHING God had done for Moses and the Israelites. Let’s see that would include the 10 plagues – blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborns even firstborn sons. It would also include the swallowing of Pharaoh, his men, and his horses and chariots in the Red Sea. EVERYTHING would include anything and everything right up to the defeating the Amalekites…and it all was by the hand of God.
In this I am reminded of Jesus words’ in the Sermon on the Mount and the assignment He has given us:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
And Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:
19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, divine utterance may be given me, so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.
We are called to be witnesses in word and action to the love, grace, and mercy of God. In a world of so many hurting people I am reminded of Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
When we think of Moses, the Lord used Him to display His gloly so Jethro and those in Egypt and the surrounding nations could hear, know, and understand that the Lord is the Great God I AM THAT I AM. He has chosen those who have believed and received Jesus as Lord and Savior to be His ambassadors in this generation and our obedience is just as important as was Moses. May the Lord strengthen us to be faithful.