A Matter Of Life and Death
Passage: Genesis 4:18–4:31
Community Group Questions: Exodus 4:18-31 - "A Matter of Life and Death"
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Read Exodus 4:18-31 aloud as a group and work through the following questions together:
- Our passage is a transitionary text. Moses’ call at the burning bush is now complete, and so he secures Jethro’s blessing, collects his family, and makes his way toward Egypt. He meets up with Aaron, and then together, they engage the Hebrews with God’s message and His signs. In the middle of this larger passage, as Moses makes his way back to Egypt with his family, we read that God “sought to put Moses to death” (see vs. 24). Does it shock you that God would put Moses to death, even after investing so much into this man? In your opinion, what could be so important to God that he would put Moses to death over it?
- Verses 25-26 gives us important clues about what the problem really was: apparently Moses had not circumcised his firstborn son, Gershom (see 2:22). God had clearly instructed Abraham to circumcise the sons of his descendants as a physical mark that would symbolize their “spiritual mark” as the people of God (Read Genesis 17:9-14). These instructions would have been passed down from Abraham to Isaac, to Jacob, and then to Joseph and his brothers. The Hebrew people would have preserved these commands of God, even as they grew into a nation in Egypt. Moses would have known about these commands, having been raised by his Hebrew mother in the younger years, and then through his ongoing familiarity with his people, even as he grew up in the palace of Pharaoh. In light of all of this, why do you think Moses failed to circumcise his own son? Why doesn’t God just look the other way?
- Moses was living hypocritically. Later, he would tell the Israelites that they must circumcise their sons if they were to eat the Passover meal (see Exodus 12:43-49). Moses was about to preach what he himself was not living. Hypocrisy means preaching values and standards to others that you yourself are not willing abide by. Do you think hypocrisy is a problem today? Where do we see it in society? Where do we see hypocrisy in the church? Where do we see hypocrisy in our own hearts and lives?
- Read 25-26 again. Zipporah takes quick, decisive, and courageous action to rescue Moses from God’s wrath. Apparently, Moses was too sick to move. He was on the brink of death. Zipporah finds a make-shift knife, circumcises her son, and touches the skin to Moses, symbolizing the idea that her actions were done on Moses’ behalf. So, her obedience was done on behalf of Moses and credited to him, and a “sacrifice” of blood touched Moses to plead forgiveness for his sins. God accepted this act of salvation (see verse 26, “He let him alone”). How does Zipporah’s saving actions foreshadow the saving work of Jesus Christ for us on the cross? Why is Jesus our only real hope for salvation from hypocrisy?
- Having been saved in this manner, Moses responds in complete obedience to God (notice all the times the text says “all” in verses 28-30). Moses has been transformed by God’s grace. His obedience is fueled by grace, and now he lives a life of integrity and obedience. What can we learn from Moses’ example about ongoing repentance, forgiveness, obedience, and integrity? How does 1 John 1:9 help us live with freedom and integrity?
Prayer suggestion: Share (as you feel it would be appropriate) any areas where you see hypocrisy in your own life. Pray for one another in that, remembering the power of Christ’s forgiveness and grace. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to live lives of freedom and integrity, with a clear conscience.