Lessons from Zipporah
31 Days of Women from Scripture
Day Nine: Lessons from Zipporah
Exodus 2:16-22; 4:18-26; 18:1-12
If you are a mom or have taken care of children, you have probably discovered how quick your reflexes can be. Babies rolling off the couch, toddlers jumping off steps from the top, you can imagine.
This quick-acting, quick-thinking quality is highlighted several times in scripture. Zipporah is one.
Zipporah was Moses’ wife. When Moses came to Midian to get away from the Egyptians who sought to kill him, he got to know the priest Reuel and his seven daughters (Ex. 2:16-20).
Reuel, also known as Jethro, invited Moses to live with them and he gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses as his wife (Ex. 2:21).
We do not know much about Zipporah. We know she gave Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Ex. 18:3-4).
After Moses met God at the burning bush (Ex. 3-4:17), he took Zipporah and their sons back to Egypt back to Egypt with him (Ex. 4:19-20).
Somewhere on this trip they stopped for lodging and God met them there, intending to kill Moses (Ex. 4:24). While we are uncertain about the reason for this, Zipporah is the one who saves Moses’ life.
When she realized Moses’ life was in danger, she somehow processed that the needed response was to circumcise their son (Ex. 4:25). She took the flint stone and performed the procedure herself, and threw the remnant of skin at Moses’ feet.
After doing this, the Bible reads, “So He let him alone” (Ex. 4:26).
Zipporah’s quick action saved Moses’ life that day.
There isn’t anything given in the context as to why this event happened in the first place. Considering that the child was not circumcised and Moses’ was rejoining the people of Israel, I can only believe that a failure to obey the law in regard to this is what was at issue.
In Genesis 17:9-14 we find God making circumcision a sign of the covenant between He, Abraham, and his descendants (v.11). God just as clearly says that any male who is not circumcised “shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant” (Gen. 17:14).
Moses’ son could not be a part of Israel unless he took part in the sign of the covenant – circumcision. As this was something to be done when the child was 8 days old (Gen. 17:12) it was really the fault of the parents for its not being done.
Zipporah knew enough of God’s law from being married to Moses, that she recognized this correction that needed to be made.
Should either one of them have thought of it long before now? Probably. But they didn’t. When it was brought to their attention, Zipporah quickly acted to rectify the problem.
That is all we know about her. This is all God chose to share. But even this small blip in the larger Exodus story tells us two things, to my mind:
- Obedience to God’s law is important
- Do not wait when you learn you are not in fellowship with God. Act quickly to remove the sin and restore your relationship with the Lord.
God uses this quick-thinking woman to show us that He keeps His promises, even when the promise is destruction for disobedience.
He uses her to show that repentance can be very quick, when you recognize the wrong that you are doing. His forgiveness was immediate. As soon as she had corrected the problem, God no longer sought to kill Moses.
Forgiveness from God is that quick for us as well. We just have to take the necessary steps to access it!
If we have never buried our sins in baptism in order to put on Christ, we have to do so to be in a right relationship with God (Rom. 6:1-7; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:34-39; Gal. 3:26-29).
Once we are in that relationship with God, when we learn of sin our lives, all we need do is confess it to Him and turn away from it.
I John 1:9 reads:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 says,
“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
In Zipporah’s case, the sin and what to do about it were obvious in that moment. Sometimes it’s not so obvious – like for David and his sin with Bathsheba (2. Sam. 11 – 12). But God’s forgiveness is always waiting for us to ask for it (2 Chron. 7:14; Prov. 28:13; Eph. 1:7).
I encourage you today to be like Zipporah. If you see something that needs correcting in your life, correct it. Take that swift action and turn things around.
The same principle can be applied to everyday life as well. It may not be sin, but it may be that child that needs to learn to stop doing something, a habit that we have ourselves that needs to be broken – see the problem, determine the correction, and do something about it. If you lack confidence in your abilities to correct the problem – do like we discussed yesterday, ask for help and learn.
There is no need to carry the burden of knowing something is wrong and yet doing nothing about it, when it is within your power to make a correction.