Moses, the Angel and the Path to Confronting Pharaoh

Posted Dec 17, 2015 by Adrian Ebens in Character of God Hits: 1,477

Exodus chapters three and four detail for us the call of Moses and the patience that the Lord displayed in appealing to Moses to take up the work of leading Israel out of Egypt.

Exo 3:10  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Exo 3:12  And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Exo 3:20  And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

The Lord appears to Moses in the burning Bush and tells him of His concern for Israel. When Moses hesitates at accepting the mission the Lord reveals the miracles through the rod being turned into a serpent and the leprosy. Moses still expresses his doubt and the Lord offers for his brother Aaron to be his mouth piece. Finally Moses agrees to go and seeks permission from his father in law to go to Egypt.

After all this effort to persuade Moses to take up this task, when Moses finally heads towards Egypt we read this strange verse.

Exo 4:24  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

At first reading this seems very strange. Does not the Lord know the end from the beginning? Why go to all this trouble through the miracles and discussion with Moses to persuade him to go to Egypt to deliver a message and then suddenly decide to kill him? Without stopping to give this much thought this verse could be used to present the Lord as fickle, vengeful and seems not to show much wisdom in choosing the people he chooses to carry out his missions.

This story provides the perfect test to discover what is in our hearts towards the Lord. If we harbour any doubts about His love for the human family this is one of the stories in the Bible that could manifest that doubt. We are invited to harmonise the revelation of the great love of God and what appears here to be a brief moment of a forceful and vengeful character that might cause us to either reject him or attempt to serve him with fear wondering if one day He decides to kill us because he suddenly loses interest in us.

 As we continue to read find the reason as to why this confrontation occurred.

Exo 4:25-26  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.  (26)  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

Moses had neglected to circumcise his son according to the Lord’s command for the sons of Abraham.

Gen 17:10-11  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.  (11)  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

Circumcision was a token of the covenant that God had made with Abraham. Now with this extra piece of information we might possibly conclude even worse things about the Lord. Does this story reveal a Lord who desires to kill those who fail to do exactly what He commands them? Yet if this is the case then why not kill Satan in the very beginning when he refused to obey God’s commands and save all this consequent woe that has followed?

These questions are only natural because the natural mind is hostile towards God and naturally seeks to present him in the most negative light. The Scripture says:

Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Through this natural hostility Satan has been able to make this world dark through the thought that God is forceful, vengeful and selfish.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. DA  22.

God does not use force to bring His children in line with His commands. So how do we then explain this story?

On the way from Midian, Moses received a startling and terrible warning of the Lord's displeasure. An angel appeared to him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy him. No explanation was given; but Moses remembered that he had disregarded one of God's requirements; yielding to the [256] persuasion of his wife, he had neglected to perform the rite of circumcision upon their youngest son. He had failed to comply with the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings of God's covenant with Israel; and such a neglect on the part of their chosen leader could not but lessen the force of the divine precepts upon the people. Zipporah, fearing that her husband would be slain, performed the rite herself, and the angel then permitted Moses to pursue his journey. In his mission to Pharaoh, Moses was to be placed in a position of great peril; his life could be preserved only through the protection of holy angels. But while living in neglect of a known duty, he would not be secure; for he could not be shielded by the angels of God.  PP 255.5   

Moses was going deep into enemy territory. Pharaoh was ruled by Satan and his angels. The only way that God could protect Moses was for Moses to walk within the protection of the commandments of God.

Gen 18:19  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

The ability for God to protect and bless Abraham was measured by his trust that what God commanded him was for his good and that God Himself would enable him to walk in His ways.

The act of circumcision at this time was a sign of complete trust in God to save them. It was evidence that a man had come into the blessing of Abraham, a blessing that a man trusts alone in the Lord for righteousness and not himself.

Rom 4:9-11  Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.  (10)  How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.  (11)  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Through man’s natural hostility to God, Satan managed to change the meaning of circumcision to an arbitrary requirement from a vengeful God. This is indeed reflected the reactive anger of Zipporah towards Moses which was a reflection of her deeper feelings towards God. This symbol designed to be a blessing was changed into a curse in the days of the apostles and men filled with the same false ideas about the character of God presented this symbol in the same way that Zipporah understood it, a bloody deed required by a vengeful God, except these men actually delighted in this view of God and tried to force this view of God upon the church through the act of circumcision.

So why did the angel present himself in a threatening manner towards Moses? Patriarchs and Prophets states, "An angel appeared to him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy him." The words "as if" could indicate an angel of the Lord motioned in a manner that revealed to him the danger that would come from the enemy. This is like when my sons were small I taught them the danger of touching the oven hotplates. I moved my hands towards the hotplate as if I would touch them. I then withdrew my hand quickly with pain written all over my face and I yelled expressing pain and began to blow on my fingers and did a fine job of showing them what happens when you place your hands on the hot plate. Is it possible that the angel of the Lord revealed what the destroying angels would be allowed to do to him if he continued to walk outside of God’s word? Secondly, the Lord could have revealed to Moses the position of the evil angel ready to destroy him. If God had withdrawn His protection then this angel could have certainly taken the life of Moses to prevent him from doing the work God designed for him.

With these words of light and truth before them, how dare men neglect so plain a duty? How dare they disobey God when obedience to His requirements means His blessing in both temporal and spiritual things, and disobedience means the curse of God? Satan is the destroyer. God cannot bless those who refuse to be faithful stewards. All He can do is to permit Satan to accomplish his destroying work. 6T 388

Moses needed to shut down any access for the evil angels to bring suffering and death to him and his family. Any deviation from the revealed will of God would allow Satan to accuse Moses day and night before the throne demanding the right to kill him because he was not revealing in his life a complete reliance on the Lord. He was allowing his wife’s wrong views of the character of God to prevent him from revealing the sign of righteousness by faith at that time. His failure to act on the command also revealed that Moses did not fully understand the blessings that come through the commandments of God or their importance for protection.

In that moment when the angel revealed to Moses what Satan would be allowed to do him, the Spirit of God spoke to Moses of his neglected duty in order to save him from Satan’s snare. Why is this story important for us? The next paragraph in the story related in Patriarchs and Prophets tells us.

In the time of trouble just before the coming of Christ, the righteous will be preserved through the ministration of heavenly angels; but there will be no security for the transgressor of God's law. Angels cannot then protect those who are disregarding one of the divine precepts. PP 256

If we transgress any of God’s divine precepts, He is limited in protecting us from the destroying work of Satan. As the Lord says:

Deu 4:40  Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Psa 78:41  Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

The keeping of the commandments was never designed to show God that we are righteousness but was designed to reveal a faith that God only commands good things for us, and that all His commandments are for our good and He will give us grace to keep them. His bidding is also His enabling by faith.

Deu 10:12-13  And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,  (13)  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

One final point here that is important to remember. When God originally gave the rite of circumcision it was connected to the everlasting covenant. The only covenant the God entered into with Abraham was the everlasting one and the command to circumcise the flesh was to be a blessing to Abraham to remember his folly in manufacturing a seed through Hagar. The symbol was designed to reflect the laying of the glory of man in the dust and that man could do nothing to produce the promised seed. Ellen White comments on this story as follows.

He had failed to comply with the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings of God's covenant with Israel. PP 256

The only covenant that formally existed with Israel at this time was the one made with Abraham. The only covenant that contained blessings was this same covenant. It is certainly true that the principles of the old covenant existed in the works of Abraham through Hagar but God had never accepted this covenant otherwise he would have accepted Ishmael as the promised seed.

What is the point we seek to make here? Simply this, most people associate the act of circumcision with the old covenant. It is perceived as something that was required by an arbitrary and controlling deity. When the character of God is revealed as one that never uses force then this symbol given as a loving reminder to Abraham was for his good and was connected to the blessings found in the everlasting covenant. Our understanding of God determines our thoughts on this question. At the time that Christ came, Israel had so twisted the meaning of circumcision to serve the old covenant of seeking to please God through works that it was discarded as a requirement.

1 Cor 7:19  Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

Circumcision was replaced with baptism for a symbol of death to the works of the flesh. The act of baptism today is just as useless as circumcision to save you if you seek to be considered righteous because you take this step. It is only a blessing when it reflects the heart knowledge that nothing we can do will save us outside the faith of Jesus. The act of taking unleavened bread and grape juice is just as useless as circumcision when we look upon God as requiring us to do these things simply because he wants to control us through them as representative of a fickle and controlling character. These emblems are only connected to the new covenant when we see them as expressions of our complete reliance on Jesus for salvation. To do these things for any other reason is preaching a false gospel like the men of Acts 15 that said unless you be circumcised you cannot be saved. The ceremonial act of communion in in itself will never save you. The ceremonial act of baptism will never save you in itself. If we offered this to God as having merit in the plan of salvation it would be rejected as treason. Baptism and Communion are only a blessing when entered into by faith that God designed them for our good to bless us knowing that all goodness only ever comes from Him and nowhere else.

Let us therefore walk joyfully in the statutes and commandments of our God by faith.

When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.  As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ--the "all things" to supply the need of fallen men--was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And "whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:22.  {DA 668.4}

Could it be possible that before we can preach the third angel's message before the kings of the earth that we need the protection of walking in the statutes and judgments of God? Would it be in Satan's interest to create a framework for the gospel that prevents the remnant from keeping all the commandments of God by the faith of Jesus? Certainly he knows that if God's people come up against the power that spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt without the protection of our Father's commandments then indeed he will be able to destroy them in their efforts so that there will be not one living stone left upon another within this false gospel temple. As Jesus said:

  ...Take heed that no man deceive you.  (5)  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matt 24:4-5

Mat 5:17-19  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  (18)  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  (19)  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.