First, please read Exodus 4:24-26. A question arose about whether the harshness of Moses’ punishment for not circumcising his son was truly necessary. “Why couldn’t God remind him? I’m sure Moses didn’t do it on purpose…and think of this, if Zipporah hadn’t cut it, would God then kill the man He recently sent to free the Egyptian people?”
1 Corinthians 10:11 says: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” We should view the reprimand of Moses as a very clear warning to us today. Moses only did half of what God ordered him to do… he only circumcised himself, but he neglected to circumcise his sons. Why did Moses do that? Did he think that by doing half, it was enough for the Lord? Was he trying to protect his son from the pain of circumcision, having just experienced it himself? Whatever the reason, he was wrong, very wrong. He needed to obey the Lord completely in all things, and if his wife, Zipporah, had not had such a strong faith in the Lord and trusted that the Lord meant what He had said so that she circumcised her sons herself, the consequence of Moses’ neglect would have been the life of his sons.
How can we relate this story to our lives today? Simple. The Lord has told us many things that we must do if we truly love Him. For example, Christ said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Many times, we see what God has told us we must do, and we decided it is okay to do only some of it or to do it our way, instead of God’s way. After all, the majority of Christendom today worships on Sunday instead of the day the Lord commanded to worship on. They ignore the 4th Commandment but keep the other nine. Why? Is it even important? We can see from the example of Moses that it is vitally important to do everything the Lord commandments of us. The Lord said to keep all ten of His commandments, and He means it.
There will be consequence for disobeying the Lord. Just because we received grace in Christ does not mean we can still consciously commit sin. A sin is the breaking of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments (1 John 3:4), and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Scriptures in Romans 6:1-2 are very clear: “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!”
Another example of the important of following the Lord is the story of Cain and Abel. Read Genesis 4. Cain knew the Lord; Cain believed in the Lord; Cain worshipped the Lord; and Cain sacrificed to the Lord… so what was wrong? Why was his sacrifice not acceptable to the Lord? Because Cain tried to worship the Lord his way instead of the way the Lord specifically ordered. And by doing it his way, Cain unknowingly sinned by blaspheming against the Lord. Genesis 4:3 says, “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD“. Cain offered vegetables (which he labored to grow and harvest) as a sacrifice to the Lord instead of the unblemished lamb which the Lord had ordered. Why is such a little thing as that important?
Because the Lord gave them specific orders on what was an acceptable sacrifice… a perfect lamb because a lamb foreshadowed the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, for all of humanity. Vegetables could not adequately represent the sacrifice which the Lord was going to give. Cain did not watch those vegetables being born. He did not feed those baby vegetables with his own hand. He did not watch those young vegetables romp through the fields with their mother. He did not pet those vegetables and speak soothing things to them. He did not go through all of those young, lively vegetables in their pens, examining them for imperfections. He did not feel the pain of anguish at finding his beloved vegetables perfect and without blemish. He did not take those vegetables from their baah-ing mother and led them away towards the altar of the Lord. He did not secure those vegetables with rope and lay them across the altar, his own heart beating loudly in his chest. He did not lay his hands upon the vegetables’ heads and proclaim his sins to the Lord. He did not take the knife in his hand, breathe deeply, and slice those vegetables across the throat… blood spewing farther immediately, staining his hands. He did not watch those vegetable’s beautiful white fleece turn bright red with fresh blood as they bled to death on the altar. He did not shed tears of pain and agony as life slipped from those vegetables’ young bodies and the personalities which he knew and loved faded until there remained nothing but an empty husk on the altar. He did not look at the lifeless body of the vegetables and acknowledge that this was an example of what the Lord would go through centuries in the future to save him and all of humanity. *
No, Cain decided he wanted to worship God his way. So he took some vegetables and gave them to the Lord. Abel worshiped the Lord the way He had commanded. Abel had to do all of that with a lamb which he probably saw born, helped to feed and raise, to whom he was quite close. (Have you ever seen a lamb? That are so lovable and so cute!!) Abel had to take that lamb’s life, knowing that it was his sin which killed that innocent creature. That is why doing it our way instead of doing it the Lord’s way in wrong. The consequence for Cain was very severe, the potential consequence for Moses was extremely severe, and the possible consequences for us today are just as severe. Not because the Lord is an angry, wrathful God, but because we chose to do something that has harmful consequences instead of following the safe road which the Lord has told us to take!
We need to learn from Moses’ and Cain’s mistakes and the loyalty of Zipporah and Abel that, no matter what, we need to obey the Lord in all things… not just what we want to do or what is easy to do but everything He has commanded us to do.
* The sacrifice which the Lord ordered had to be a blood sacrifice, because only the blood of Christ can wash away our sins. Vegetables, which Cain offered, cannot bleed. Even though Cain may not have realized this, by offering vegetables instead of a lamb, he was making a mockery of Christ’s future death on the cross. See Leviticus 16:27; 17:11; 1 John 1:7; and Revelation 1:5; 7:14.