“At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.” Exodus 4:24
What is it that God is looking for when He wants to raise up a leader? In our American way of thinking we tend to see leaders as those who have great ability to inspire others, or maybe they are people who just know how to drudge through difficult situations and come to the other side. Possibly, they have speaking skills that stir the hearts of those who listen or have a knack to know just what is needed in any given situation. Those qualities may be inherent in those with leadership skills and I do believe that the Lord knows what qualities a person will need in order to fulfill the purposes marked out for him or her, but I don’t think natural ability is the main quality that the Lord seeks. The Lord always looks at one place and one place only… and that’s the heart.
That poses a dilemma for all mankind because “the heart is deceitful above all things. Who can know it?” And, “there is no one who is righteous, no not one.” But thankfully for us, God in His infinite wisdom knows how to subdue all things…even the things of the heart. Man cannot save Himself. We need a savior. To save us from what you ask? –the effects that sin and Satan have had on fallen mankind…in other words, ourselves. That’s the Gospel. Anything else that we are preaching in our American version of Christianity is another Jesus and not the one of the Bible. He didn’t come so that we might live our best life now. He came that we might lose our life for Him and in turn receive the blessings of the abundant life found only on the other side of the cross.
So how does the Lord deal with those that He calls into leadership? He seeks to put them to death. You don’t believe me? Let’s look at possibly the Lord’s greatest display of leadership in the scripture. No one can argue that Moses is not high on the list of great leaders in the Bible. Apart from Jesus Himself, you might argue that King David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Paul rank higher, but no one can disagree that Moses doesn’t belong. At one point in His ministry, the Lord calls Moses the meekest man on the earth, but when we first meet Moses, meekness is not his nature.
As the Lord begins to deal with Moses’ heart over the plight of the Hebrew people, Moses acts in his own strength and ends up killing an Egyptian who is mistreating a Hebrew slave. He rightly saw the injustice and his heart was moved on account of the people, although he had not been identified with the Hebrews experientially because he had been raised as an Egyptian with all the privileges of royalty. His sacrificial act of concern however was not seen as such and he is confronted with his action by two Hebrews who are fighting amongst each other. Instead of seeing his heart to deliver, they accuse him of having a murderous heart. This sends him running from all that he knows as he ends up fleeing to Midian in the desert.
Although His intentions might have been misunderstood, the Lord does not allow anything into our lives that is not filtered through His hands. Even though Moses was beginning to see rightly, he was not yet the deliverer that God would raise up to lead His people out of Egypt. The Lord had to deal with him. Moses’ desert experience was not an accident, it was the training ground that God typically chooses to work upon the heart and Moses’ heart was no different. What is it that had to be eradicated from his thinking? Possibly all the education that he had received as a royal in Egypt which naturally put him in a place of leadership and respectability. Certainly his own nature to solve issues that might arise by taking matters into his own hands. Maybe a root of fear that caused him to flee into the desert to find a route of escape. We find out later as the Lord begins to commission him for the task at hand that Moses has a deep insecurity in his ability to speak and questions his call to be God’s spokesman. Now whether or not this comes from a place of humiliation from such a deep identity crisis after losing everything that had defined him, or if he had always had this fear, it is not known. But either way it displeases the Lord because God is after something in Moses’ understanding…not by might, nor by power, but by My strength says the Lord.
The Lord allows Moses to see a display of His glory that few will ever know this side of heaven as he hears the voice of the Lord come from the burning bush. God overcomes Moses’ fear of speaking by giving him Aaron as his mouthpiece. God has encouraged and trained him and now commissions him to go back to Egypt and say to Pharaoh…a man who most likely knew Moses before his transformation and would not respect him to be God’s man (Isn’t that just like the devil?)…”Let My people go!”
The Lord has done a deep work in Moses and has given him all that he needs for the task at hand, right? And yet, it is at this point as he starts out toward that which God has called him to do that we come to our opening scripture, “At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.” Really? Sought to kill him? Why? Because there was still a cutting away of the flesh that needed to take place.
Moses had not circumcised his son. And as the Lord contended with Moses, Zippora his wife, performed the circumcision but it left her feeling bitter toward Moses that she had had to perform such a brutal, bloody action upon her child. Why couldn’t the Lord just say to Moses you need to obey me fully in this area? Because truly we are powerless at cutting away the fleshly responses of our hearts. It doesn’t say, but I believe that God wanted Moses to know something. I believe that Moses needed to know that God was truly the great I AM and not one ounce of flesh could remain if Moses were to carry out that which God had entrusted to him. Why? Because if any flesh were to remain, God would not get all the glory.
Maybe the Lord needed to show Moses that He alone is able to fully consecrate a person for service. We are told to consecrate ourselves, but our consecration can only go so far. It is the Lord only that can circumcise the heart. And maybe, through the experience, although certainly painful and bewildering, a strange sense of peace entered Moses’ heart because now he saw something…he saw that the Lord really wanted him, all of him. Not only had he called him, but the Lord was fully able to do the work needed that no man can do for himself, true circumcision, because although the circumcision needed to be performed on his son, it was Moses that the Lord sought to put to death.
I can imagine that it brought great comfort to Moses to know that God was willing to go to great lengths to make Moses God’s man. He was going to need that assurance when the people rose up against him with all their complaining about the fact that trusting in the Lord’s timing and ways might cost them some hardship in the meantime. He certainly was going to need to know that when those closest to him rose up in an attempt to overtake his leadership. No doubt he needed to have confidence in the Lord’s ability when every time he obeyed the Lord by confronting Pharaoh that it looked as though the deliverance was not going to happen and instead some horrible affliction would come on the land. He needed to know that God would get the glory no matter how difficult the way. Isn’t that the same picture we see in the lives of the apostles? Through persecution, false accusations, their own human failings, disappointments and demonic struggle, God was more than able to deliver His own out of each and every situation so that His Name may be known through their consecrated lives.
I believe it’s this thought that puts the actions of Moses in a much clearer light when he strikes the rock at Merebah instead of speaking to it like God had commanded. How many of us have looked at all the complaining that Moses had to endure, all the discipline and teaching that he had to walk the children of Israel through, all the hours of being a judge for the disputes, and everything else that leadership has to encounter and thought, “Really Lord, could you not give him a break? No one is perfect.” Although God’s mercy is new every morning, the Lord had taken Moses down a process of consecration that had one sole purpose. That purpose being that no flesh would get the glory so that all the world would know that the Great I Am is the only true Deliverer and He alone is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
Yes, even your particular struggle…fear, insecurity, anger, depression, pride, control, pain, covetousness…whatever area of your fleshly ways that are left in your unsubdued heart. Consecration isn’t always pretty, but it is oh so sweet once the death to self has occurred. If the Lord can bring out a nation from the hand of a tyrant that refuses to bow the knee, can He not deliver you from yourself? Just tell Him that you really want him to circumcise your heart and see what He does. He will put you to death for sure, but in His kingdom death does not have the final word…His death always leads to life and life abundant.