Summary: God allows Moses to live because of the blood of his son.
We’ll continue now with our study through the book of Exodus. I know several of you have been anticipating these verses because they seem so out of place and somewhat bizarre, and I hope I can explain them tonight in a way that glorifies Christ. That’s been our main point and the point we’ve stressed, hasn’t it? When we sit down to study we first and constantly ask, “How does this point me to Christ?” And that’s what we’ll do now if the Lord wills it.
God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and commands him to go to Pharaoh where the Israelites are held captive as slaves:
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. 24And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 25Then 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. 26So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
The biggest trouble we have with this is that it just seems so out of the blue. Moses is on his way to Egypt to command one of the most powerful men in the world to relinquish control over his slaves and take a huge hit to his economy. To make it worse, he’s not supposed to simply make a request or even give a stern suggestion; his duty is to breath a threat, an ultimatum, against Pharaoh’s son and all the firstborn sons of Egypt: “Let Israel go or else.”
Somehow Moses agrees to do it and this encounter at the inn is his apparent reward: the Lord intends to kill him. I don’t know if he becomes sick or what, but whatever it is will surely end in death until his wife circumcises their son. Now that’s the main point, and it’s where we start to see Christ through all this.
Moses was near death, but how was he saved? Zipporah calls him a “bloody husband” and this emphasizes the purpose of the circumcision: Moses didn’t die because his son bled for him in his place.
But why would the son suffer for the father?
This takes us right to chapter 12 and Passover. The Israelites families were to kill a lamb:
And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8And they shall eat the flesh in that night [...] 11it is the LORD’s passover. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. [...] 43And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies (Ex. 12:7-8, 11-13, 43-51).
The only ones threatened with death on that night were the firstborn sons, but the whole family ate the sacrifice together and participated in the deliverance. Later they were commanded to remember the Passover through an annual ordinance, and the only ones who could participate were those who had been circumcised. You’ll remember from Genesis 17 that circumcision is the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, and any uncircumcised Israelite was cut off from his people. Now, here in Exodus, God sets the firstborn apart: