Tag Archives: Chritianity

God’s People, part 24: Zipporah

Read Exodus 4:18-28

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman.” (Numbers 12:1 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

ZipporahPart 24: Zipporah. There are some truly strange and unique stories found in the Bible. Usually, these stories make little sense and often draw God’s character into question. For instance, you might be puzzled at the main Scripture reading today, provided you read it. If you didn’t, I highly recommend to you that you pause here, and read it. I bet you didn’t know that God almost killed Moses prior to him even being able to pull off what God asked him to do.

Why would God do that? Seriously, I am asking that question. Why would God send Moses on a task to liberate the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and decide along the way to slay him? What’s even more dubious is that it seems to be over a technicality, over the fact that seemingly neither Moses or his son was circumcised. Surely, God would have known that was the case from the outset, and nowhere do we see God so much as asking him to get that done! It is hard to make sense of God’s character in stories like these.

So, rather than try and explain what sort of theology of God is going on here in this story, we can look toward the heroine in the story. Zipporah, the wife of Moses, intercedes on her husband’s behalf and her heroic actions save the day. Literally. There are all sorts of possible reasons for the author writing the story the way they did; however, it is in this Cushite (aka non-Jewish) woman that we see what true love and faithfulness is all about. What’s more, it is kind of comical, and certainly poignant, that the wife is the one who pays attention to the details and saves her husband from running into quite a bit of trouble. Married men of the world, take note!

So, who is this Zipporah? She was one of Jethro’s seven daughters who Moses received as his wife after he saved all seven sisters and their flock of sheep from other competing shepherds. Moses, of course, was an Egyptian fugitive, having just fled Egypt for his life after killing an Egyptian slave master.  So, there with his wife Moses stayed, raised children and tended to Jethro’s sheep.

Zipporah bore Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. For most women, that would be pretty much where the story began and ended in the ancient world. One was to get married, have children, raise children, become a grandparent and die; however, Zipporah’s life did not to go as planned. Her husband, following having children with her, went up onto a mountain deemed holy by her people, and quite literally “found God.” When he came back down, he was not the same man he had been when he went up.

Once he came down from that mountain, Moses was resolute about going back to Egypt. Most of the stories have him doing so alone, with him eventually meeting up with his brother Aaron; however, the Bible makes it clear that his wife Zipporah, and their children, went with him. I would like you to pause and think about that scenario for a moment. It is one thing for Moses to travel across desert and wilderness to head back into the country he fled for his life from. Sure, that would probably result in his death one way or the other, but at least his family would be safe. As can be seen, his family did come with him and that meant that their lives were in jeopardy as well.

Who knows if Zipporah resisted the move or not, what we do know is that she did go with Moses and it was her who saved him when God was about to kill him. How did she do that, you might ask? By circumcising her children and laying the foreskin at the feet of Moses. She then pleaded with God to spare Moses, and God did so.

We need not believe that God was literally trying to kill Moses to understand the overarching point. Sometimes as “insiders” think we know God so much that we fail to listen to God’s direction, all the while “outsiders” clearly see God, and choose to follow. Praise God for “outsiders” for they give us a fresh look at who we actually are, versus who we think we are. Amen? Let us be open to the faith of other people, for one never knows when he or she might encounter a Zepporah in their own lives and be blessed for it.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” – Confucius

PRAYER
Lord, keep my heart open to learning your ways, especially if it is through the hearts of others. Amen.

Spider Web

Read Joshua 1:1-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE 
“Fear betrays our ability to help ourselves by thinking clearly. Expecting the worst, people prefer to remain ignorant of the cause of their torment.” (Wisdom of Solomon‬ ‭17:12-13‬ ‭CEB)‬‬‬‬‬‬

img_0200-1I was just recently in a conversation with someone about the difference between the world I remember when I was growing up, and the world we are living in today. The conversation started around the fact that so many children, youth and young adults are suffering from levels of anxiety that I don’t remember existing when I was growing up. I remember dealing with depression as a teen, and I remember the anxiety that can well up due to bullying and things like that, but that kind of anxiety is different than the kind I find in today’s generations.

When I was growing up I knew that I needed to be aware of my surroundings and not talk to strangers. Still, even though I knew that, it was not like I ever came into an encounter with creepy, stalker-like strangers. One would hear of kids getting kidnapped, but it wasn’t on the news every day, nor did it really happen (to my knowledge) in my area while I was growing up. I never, EVER, had to worry about someone blowing the mall up, or someone coming into store and blowing everyone away with semi-automatic weapons. It just never crossed my mind.

In school, all we ever had to do was prepare for potential fires. Every now and again, the fire alarm would go off, which usually meant that we were having a “fire drill.” If it wasn’t a fire drill, it was a dopey prankster pulling the fire alarm. We never, EVER, had to have “active shooter”, “lock-down” kinds of drills. We never, prior to the Columbine High shooting, worried that high school wasn’t a safe place. Sure there where bullies, and high school didn’t always feel safe in terms of my social life. But the most I had to worry about was being bullied and beaten up, not blown away! When there were bomb scares, it was pretty much always because another one of those dopey pranksters were attempting to get a day off from school.

Yet, that is not the world my daughters are growing up in. In this post-Columbine, post-9/11, post Newtown, CT, post-Paris/San Bernardino/Brussells world, we cannot help but fear for our lives. Every nght the news is on, the world is exploding, people are being massacred, martyred, and tortured at alarming rates. And the level of fear and anxiety is at an all-time high! That fear and anxiety is also causing people to go into “self-preservation mode”, where it is literally everyone for themselves.

Fear does that, it is like a huge spider web. There are so many webby threads for us to get caught up in and, if the truth be told, we are often caught up in many more than one. Once the fear web has us in its grip, we cannot escape! We are stuck in the web of fear until the spider comes down and consumes us. As we pass through the bowels of the spider, we become defined by the fear that has killed us. What’s more, we become the very thing we fear. Instead of working toward building a sanctuary, we build up walls that further divide us. Rather than building up community, we become a part of it’s destruction.

Christ is calling us away from the spider web that is fear. The Bible is consistent in its call to the faithful to “fear not”, for we trust that God is, indeed, with us, that God will never abandon us or fail us. We trust that God will be with us always, even to the end of our lives and to the end of the age. While it is hard in this world to maintain this kind of faith, I pray that you surround yourself in a loving, faith community; I pray that you immerse yourself in the Scripture and in God’s promises, and that you turn from fear to faith.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” – King David (Psalms ‭34:4‬ ‭CEB)‬‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬

PRAYER

Lord, deliver me from my fears and lead me to the promised land of faith. Amen.