By Ian Gustafson, USA
Have you ever heard that Moses’ wife was a demon worshiper? No? We’ll get back to that in a minute. In the meantime, consider this: any teenaged guy who attends a coeducational school spends a great deal of time girl-watching. I’ll be the first to admit it. There were several ladies I took classes with for years. If you choose one of them and describe her attributes to me, I would easily know whom you are talking about. If I were to see one of them from a distance, I would recognize her in an instant.
My knowledge in this field is pretty extensive. But it’s amazing how something simple—something that I should’ve noticed at the start—can slip under the radar. For example, one day during my last year of high school, a friend made a joke (probably at my expense) and one of these girls I’d known for years laughed. I noticed she had braces on her lower teeth, something I’d never seen before. “When did you get braces?” I asked her. “Um, I’ve had them for years dude,” she told me. “You never noticed?”
Now, back to Moses. While growing up, I’ve heard his story hundreds of times. But it wasn’t until recently that I read Exodus 4:24-26 carefully. This passage takes place when Moses is travelling to Egypt with his family, in obedience to God’s command to deliver the Israelites from slavery. I didn’t think much happened on the trip because the parts of the story everyone remembers are Moses as a baby in the basket, the plagues of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and so forth. Those are the interesting parts right? After taking a deeper look, I realized those events don’t even compare to some of the details that slip under my Bible-reading radar.
My lack of observational skills is something I try to suppress when I’m studying. This includes when I read the Bible. But sometimes when I’ve heard a Bible story repeatedly, there are things I miss. And let me tell you, the things I’ve missed are often a lot more interesting than a pair of braces. Missing points in Scripture, be it related to the cultural or historical context, relation to other passages, or just random facts, can result in simply missing out on the message of some verses or, worse, teaching a misguided interpretation. Fortunately we can always go back to the text to see what God has to show us.
In Exodus 4:24-26, I found a story that tells a little about Zipporah’s (Moses’ wife) religious beliefs and her reaction to Moses’ devotion to God. By looking into it, I found that her people worshiped Baal, a pagan deity who some scholars believe might have actually been a demon. However, a few chapters later (chapter 18), her father Jethro declares that Jehovah is greater than all other gods. Beforehand, I didn’t know anything about this and I was inspired. Personally, I feel that Zipporah was converted as well. But it’s hard to draw conclusions when there’s not much scriptural basis. But maybe that’s just another great thing about the Bible. It tells the truth and encourages us to dig deeper and learn more.
In our Scripture reading today, let’s ask God to show us what He wants us to learn. It will make our spiritual radar much more effective.