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Daily Devotion for January 24, 2013

Moses Leaving Egypt, Pietro Perugino (Sistine Chapel) ca. 1483
Moses Leaving Egypt, Pietro Perugino (Sistine Chapel) ca. 1483. In the lower center, Moses is attacked by an angel, while in the lower right, Zipporah delicately circumcises their son. See full-size.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Welsh phenomenon Aled Jones sings Always There, which (as far as I can tell) he also wrote.

For Joy in God's Creation

O  Heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open my eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that rejoicing in your whole creation, I may learn to serve you with gladness, faithfully managing your bounty; for the sake of him by whom all things were made, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer for Freedom from Fear

O  Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.


Prayer for Unknown Needs

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.



Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

Moses, Botticelli
Scenes from the Life of Moses (detail), Sandro Botticelli ca. 1482. This detail of a painting in the Sistine Chapel shows the barefooted Moses talking to God in the burning bush.

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

~ A. W. Tozer

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 4: 18-26

Zipporah at the Inn

Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

Notes on the Scripture

We have seen how reluctant Moses was to accept God's commission as leader of the Hebrews; he simply does not have the pridefulness or lust for power that characterizes most great leaders. We see this again; he seems content to be subordinate to his father-in-law and ask his permission to travel.

Exodus 4 is odd in many ways. Reuel is now called "Jethro" and Moses does not seem to mention the startling events that have just occurred. Then God tells Moses in excruciating detail what he should say and do when he gets to Egypt; He seems to compensate for Moses' diffidence and lack of self-confidence. Also note that Moses' staff is now called the "staff of God".

Zipporah from Exodus, by Botticelli
Zipporah as painted
by Botticelli

Then, suddenly, God tries to kill him! It seems as if we have lost some of the book over the millennia. This fragment, however, punctuates the point that Moses was not much of a Jew. He had failed to circumcise his son and was therefore, in point of theology, not living under the Hebrew covenant with God. Zipporah, of all people, comes to the rescue.

The meaning of it all is a bit obscure. When I was a kid in Sunday school, I remember that we sort of skimmed this part. They didn't have us making imitation stained glass windows of Zipporah throwing a freshly cut foreskin at Moses' feet, and there was no question-and-answer session about "bridegrooms of blood". (The passage is actually even cruder than it sounds, since "Moses' feet" is almost surely a euphemism for his genitals.)

The most apparent meaning of the last paragraph is that Zipporah had somehow become anxious about whether she was Moses' true wife, since she wasn't Jewish, and she thinks the circumcision will seal her marriage, that Moses won't go get a second, Hebrew wife and declare that she is wife #1, whose children will be ahead of hers in the line of succession.

God's seeking to put Moses to death is also missing something, since it doesn't seem likely that God tried and failed. The Jewish translations of the passage say an angel of God sought to kill Moses, but an inept angel of God isn't really a satisfactory explanation, either. Non-Biblical sources (especially The Book of Jubilees from @ 100 B.C.) say that it was actually Satan disguised as a prince — Satan was, after all, an angel, albeit a fallen one.

Perhaps the best way to read this, is that God threatened Moses with death, or started some action that would have killed him, except that Zipporah saw the problem and made Moses righteous by circumcising the baby. This makes the most sense and, because there is clearly text that did not survive, we can only imagine that the context would have been clear in the original.

endless knot

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Luke 11:9: “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

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