This passage about Moses almost getting killed on his way to Egypt is one of the more confusing passages in the whole bible. God has finally convinced Moses to go free His people in Egypt. After 5 different excuses, God is angry with Moses and so gives him two special signs to perform. But it isn’t this that causes God’s wrath to fall on Moses. It isn’t his previous murder of an Egyptian slavemaster, nor his marrying a Midianite. So what is it that causes God to come against him in anger?
Moses has just been called to be the leader of God’s people. He will be the voice of God to them and will give them His law. But Moses hasn’t followed the law they already have in a pretty significant way. He has neglected to circumcise his youngest son and in so doing, he has ignored God’s strictest law to date. When God called Abraham to be the father of His people and the bearer of God’s great Covenant, the sign of that Covenant was circumcision. In fact, any male who was not circumcised was to be “cut off” (yup, God likes puns as much as I do) from His people.
It is interesting that it is Moses’ foreign wife who saves the day, circumcising his son with a flint knife. This requirement of her husband’s God disgusted her, so her reaction is understandably harsh. She throws the skin at Moses’ feet and declares him a “bridegroom of blood”. But even she realized that if Moses is to be the leader of his people and bringer of the law, he’d better be keeping it himself. This is a good word for all of us in church leadership today, and yet another reason to thank God for His amazing grace when we fail.