Where’s Jesus? Moses returns to Egypt (Exodus 4:18-31)

In order to understand this section of the story, one must understand a few things about Moses and Israelite History.  Moses is the deliverer of the people of Israel.  He leads them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, though he himself never enters due to his own sin.  With this understanding, let me paraphrase today’s story: The deliverer leaves a land of safety and returns to a land of enslavement in order to display the power of God before the one who is responsible for the people’s slavery.

Wow!  This is a powerful storyline and it is the storyline not only of Moses, but also of Jesus Christ.  Like Moses leaving the safety of his father-in-law in order to go to a land of slavery, Jesus leaves the safety of his Father in heaven in order to enter into the world of death.  And like Moses who was given power to perform 3 miraculous signs before the chosen people and their oppressor, Pharaoh, so also does Jesus perform an infinite number of miracles before all Israel and the powers and principalities of this world.  In fact, the Apostle John tells us the number of miracles was too great to record.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25)

Like Moses who entered into a land where the people were as good as death, Jesus entered into death itself and there performed his greatest miracle and display of power as he rose from the grave.  And in both stories, the reason was the same:

Israel is my firstborn son,…Let my son go, so he may worship me. (Exodus 4:23a)

The reason for deliverance was to bring the chosen people out of slavery and into a life of worship.  Worship is at the center of all God’s redemptive purposes.  Worship is at the center of the Law.  Worship is at the center of the miracles.  God wants to prepare a people who can worship him unhindered and free from sin.  He wants a people who worship in spirit and truth.  Listen to these Scriptures that declare his purpose for redemption:

I [God] provide drink water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.  (Isaiah 43:20-21)

For as a belt is bound around a man’s waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’ (Jeremiah 13:11)

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. (Joel 2:26)

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. (Luke 1:68)

Redemption is all about worshipping God for the wonders he has done.  He is great and he knows that all humanity is caught in slavery to sin and sin hinders the true worship of God.  The situation Moses faces with Egypt and Israel is the situation every human being faces with sin.  So Christ fulfills all the longings of Moses; He leads a people out of slavery and establishes the pure worship of God among the redeemed.  How is this done?

That brings us to a very troubling part of the story.  Verses 24-26 record the near death experience of Moses, the circumcision of one of his sons and the words of his wife, Zipporah.  As I reflect on this part of the story I see that God’s redeemer, Moses, is under the curse of death for having not obeyed the covenant of God in Genesis 17.  Moses is literally going to be cut off for his sin of failing to comply with God’s covenant term of circumcision, but the only thing that can save him from this sin is the spilling of the blood of circumcision.

As we fast forward to Jesus we find that he too becomes sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us… (2 Corinthians 5:21)

and he too is under God’s curse,

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

And like Moses, Jesus was cast into the death grip of God, however there was no blood to be spilled to save him; on the contrary, it was his blood that would be spilled in order to save sinners.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  (Matthew 26:28)

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished —(Romans 3:25)

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.. (Ephesians 1:7)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood… (Revelation 1:5)

Thus we are left again with another testimony to the beauty of Christ’s salvation.  Our redemption comes from a redeemer who leads us out of death into life by the spilling of his blood for our sins and the application of that blood to our entire person.  And the purpose – that we may worship God forever as a kingdom of priests.

…you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:6)

…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:5, 9)

Glory be to God!


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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