Exodus 4:24—Whom did the Lord meet at the encampment, and why did He seek to kill him?

Problem: Exodus 4:24 states, “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him.” The verse does not explicitly say whom the Lord met in the encampment, but the context indicates that it was Moses. If so, why did God seek to kill him, since He had called him to lead Israel out of Egypt?

Solution: First, it is clear that Moses had been selected by the Lord to be His instrument to deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage and from the power of Pharaoh. But, as one of God’s covenant people, Moses was obligated to circumcise his sons on the eighth day. For one reason or another, Moses had not performed the rite of circumcision on his son as one of the covenant people of the Lord. It was not possible for the Lord to permit His chosen deliverer to represent Him to the people of Israel when he had not complied with the dictates of the covenant relationship himself. Apparently, God took this drastic measure to prompt Moses to obey Him, knowing that Moses would not willingly go against the wishes of his wife Zipporah. Zipporah performed the circumcision, perhaps because Moses was incapacitated from an affliction which the Lord had brought upon him. As soon as the circumcision was performed, the Lord ceased from seeking to kill Moses.

Second, it is obvious that the Lord could have killed Moses suddenly if that were the intent of this incident. God certainly possessed the power to do this without delay. The incident clearly indicates that God’s purpose was to cause Moses to comply with His requirements. God obviously did not want to kill Moses. What He wanted was Moses’ obedience and complete commitment to His law, if he was going to be the great lawgiver to his people.