Tony Evans — Mothers Who Believed God
I want to talk to you about a lady that maybe you've never even heard preached on before, and yet she makes a faith act in Scripture that is quite significant and substantial. Her name is Zipporah. We find out about Zipporah and her great faith act in Exodus chapter 4. Zipporah is the African wife of Moses, the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, an African tribe. So, he married Zipporah, and God then calls Moses to this responsibility to tell Pharaoh, "Let my people go".
That responsibility is highlighted in chapter 4, verse 21. The Lord said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your powers, but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then you will say to Pharaoh, 'Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn. So, I saith to you let my son go that he may serve me, but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.'" So, he is responsible for delivering this message, this message to Pharaoh, "Let my people go". God is going to harden Pharaoh's heart so hard so Pharaoh won't let them go in order that God might judge Pharaoh.
Pharaoh believed himself to be the first son of Egypt as the son of the gods. The true God is getting to reduce him and let him know he ain't all that. He tells Moses, "You go tell Pharaoh to let my people go because Israel is my first son. The nation Israel is a type of my first, my privileged people, and I'm going to show you that they're under my care". So, that's the context. Moses has been given a responsibility by God, but here then comes the problem. The problem is stated for us in verse 24. "Now, it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him, Moses, and sought to put him to death".
So, God meets Moses and seeks to kill him, and this comes right after God telling Moses, "Go tell Pharaoh, I want you to tell Pharaoh to let my people go". Then God goes over to Moses and seeks to kill him. So, evidently God gave Moses a sickness that would lead to death. And the reason I'm saying it's a sickness is because it became visible to his wife Zipporah that he was on his way to die. So, it was like somebody having a terminal illness. And Moses is having a terminal illness because of something he did not do. It says in verse 24, "It came about the lodging that the Lord met him and sought to put him at death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin, and threw it at Moses's feet and said, 'You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.' So he let him alone," God let Moses alone. "At that time she said, 'You are a bridegroom of blood because of the circumcision.'"
So, let me explain the problem. The problem is that Moses has refused to circumcise his son. That's the problem. Moses has refused to circumcise his son. And because of his refusal, God sought to kill him. Moses is going over here preaching to Pharaoh about the firstborn while not taking care of business in his own house. All right. He's talking a good game out there while being neglectful in here. And because of his refusal to cover his family spiritually, therefore not circumcising his son, God sought to kill him.
Enter Zipporah, the African bride of Moses. Moses is on his way out, the Lord sought to kill him. Then Zipporah, verse 25, took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin. Watch this now. Moses, the mother and wife, did what the husband and father refused to do. Moses, the mother and wife, did what the father had not done, which was, watch this, jeopardizing the whole family. Because if God killed Moses, then that meant there would be no male covering for the family. If God would've destroyed Moses because of Moses's disobedience, the whole family would've been in trouble. So, what Zipporah did was step in where Moses failed. Zipporah mans up because Moses didn't step up to the plate. In other words, when a man either cannot or will not fulfill a spiritual opportunity or spiritual responsibility in the family that jeopardizes the family, the woman has the right to plug into that place so the home is still spiritually covered.
So, she steps in. This introduces to us a biblical doctrine called the doctrine of interposition. It is the doctrine of interposition where God will allow somebody to interpose themselves on behalf of somebody else. It is an intercessor, it is somebody who comes in between the righteous justice of God and the rebellion of people in order to divert the judgment. So, the reason you interpose is to steer the judgment away that God has legitimately said is coming toward a group or an individual or a person to interpose themselves, okay? So, it's the doctrine of interposition.
This is what Moses does later on when God says, "Because of Israel's rebellion, I'm going to destroy them". Moses interposed himself between God and between rebellious Israel, and says, "God, slay me instead. If you kill them, then the enemy's going to say you were good enough to bring them out of Egypt, good enough to get them across the Red Sea, but you weren't good enough to get them into the Promised Land, and your name is going to look bad". It says when God heard Moses interpose himself between God and the people, God changed his mind. He changed his mind. Of course, the greatest interposition of all is when Jesus Christ died on the cross between a holy God and sinful mankind so that the justice of God was diverted from us and placed totally on the finished work of Jesus Christ. That is a fact.
All of us are going to heaven who have accepted Christ because he interposed himself between the wrath of God, the sinfulness of man, and God's wrath got diverted onto Jesus Christ. That's the doctrine of interposition. Well, guess what, mothers? Guess what, ladies? God gives you the right and the responsibility to interpose yourself because the Bible says in the next verse God left Moses alone. God changed his mind about Moses not because Moses was doing right. He changed his mind about Moses 'cause Zipporah was doing right.
So, I want you to know, ladies, you're not an addendum. In fact, your husband may only be here because of you. He may only be able to survive because of your prayers and your interposition that refuses to let the wrath of God take over your family. It may be you saying, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". It ought to be him, but it might wind up being you. "Zipporah," verse 25, "took the flint, cut off her son's foreskin," okay, watch this, "and threw it at Moses's feet". Sister girl is ticked off. I mean, the neck is rolling. "You refuse to circumcise our son". No, you didn't. She takes the foreskin and throws it at his feet. She cuts the foreskin off of her son and throws it at his feet.
She is ticked off that you put me in this position. Because you failed to man up, I had to woman up and show you who the man is in the house. You forced me here. I shouldn't be doing this. You're the man, you walk around talking about you the head of the house. You often talk, you the king of the castle. I can't get you to take care of your spiritual responsibility. You're forcing me to wake the kids up. You're forcing me to have devotion. You're forcing me to pray with the kids. You're forcing me to lead. And I'm mad. And she throws it at Moses's feet in frustration. And then she says twice, she says, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me".
So, he let him alone, God let Moses alone. At that time, she said, "You are a bridegroom of blood to me because of the circumcision". This is a unique phrase, "bridegroom of blood". You're a bridegroom of blood. Now, bridegroom is the man who's getting ready to get married, that's the bridegroom. She's already married. See, Moses and Zipporah are already married. But when this event comes, she makes another marriage statement. "You are a bridegroom, but this time you and I are married by blood". Now, what does that mean? They had already gotten married, she's already his wife. But she was on her way to losing her husband 'cause God was going to kill him.
She stepped in and saves her husband, so she says to him, "You and I are getting married again. You're a bridegroom now. You've already been a bridegroom, but now in light of the situation, you're a bridegroom, and now you're a bridegroom of blood. It cost blood. I had to cut my son's foreskin, something you should've been doing, you didn't do it. So, I'm marrying you again right now," watch this, "and because of the blood that I had to go through in order to save your... never mind. In order to save your life, okay, I am now holding you accountable to your responsibility to man up. 'Cause next time, I'm going to let God kill you". In other words, "I am now holding you accountable".
So, what am I saying to the ladies here? When you have to step in and be the man 'cause the man isn't there or the man is not being a man, you have the responsibility and the right to hold him accountable to the manhood he claims to have. Don't let your man off the hook. If he's supposed to do it, tell him, "You are my bridegroom. You are responsible, and I ain't going to keep bailing you out". You hold him accountable to being a man. You do it with love, you do it with respect, and sometimes you do it when you're ticked off, but you do it clearly. Don't let your man off the hook.
So, Zipporah is a mother who interposes herself. And by an act of faith, it's what she did, even though she was mad, it was what she did that saved her husband, and kept the covenant going through her children, and kept the covering of God over his house so that God changed his mind about what he was going to do to the man. It was an act of faith.
Let's look at Ruth. Ruth is another woman who made a kingdom decision as a woman. Now, Ruth is a widow, her husband has died. She's a Moabite and she's a foreign woman. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, has lost her husband too. Her sister has lost her husband, too. So, you got three widows. Naomi says to the two daughters in Ruth chapter 1, verse 8, "Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant that you may find rest each in the house of her husband". Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
Okay, let me set the scene, let me just summarize it for you. It's only four chapters, read the book of Ruth. Naomi the mother-in-law says to the two daughter-in-laws, "Go back home to Moab because if you go back with me to Israel, you might not be able to get married because you're foreign women. These are Jewish men. If you go back to Moab with your own people, then there's much better chance that you're going to find a husband. So, I'm wishing you well because I don't think you're going to find a husband back if you come with me to Jerusalem. So, I know you want to be married. You're widows, I know you want to be married. I know you want to have children, but you're single, you're alone. These men are probably not going to marry you or there's limited chance of that. Go home so you can find a husband".
One of the daughters say, "Yeah, I'm going to go home 'cause I want to find me a husband". But that's not what Ruth says. Let me show you what Ruth says. "But Ruth said," verse 16, "'Do not urge me to leave you and return back from following you. For where you go, I will go. And where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God.'" So, watch this now because I know in here we have a lot of single ladies, as is true culturewide today in Christianity, of ladies who want to be married and who want to bear children. That was Ruth's situation. Naomi says, "The only way you're going to get a man is to go back to the world you came from". Ruth says, watch this, it's a faith statement, "I will take my risk on following you and your God rather than what I know would be a more logical possibility if I go back to Moab".
And I know there are some ladies here debating the same thing. "Do I go back to the world, where I know I can get me a man? If I go back to the club, you know, and you know, I know I can get me a man. If I go back, I know, I know that I can find me a man at the club. If I go back to the world, there's going to be somebody who's going to want to hook up with me". But now on this Christian side, on this God side where they got to be saved, and they got to be wanting to love the Lord, and they got to be wanting to be a spiritual leader, and they got... every time I find out what a Christian man's supposed to look like, my numbers shrink. My numbers shrink. It's getting narrower and narrower".
So, Ruth had to make a decision that went against the numbers. 'Cause if you just look at the numbers, it's hard enough finding a sinner man, so to look for a saint man, you know, I may be in real trouble here if I'm just looking at the numbers. But Ruth said, "I'm going to make a decision, and it will be a faith decision. Without seeing any husband, without seeing any man onsite, without seeing anybody to respond to as a woman, I'm going to make a decision, mother-in-law. I'm going to go with you and I'm going to let your God define me".
Okay, so watch this. You know the story, but I'm just going to summarize it for you in light of time. She goes back and Ruth is gleaning in the field. She's, you know, like a field hand. She's picking up stuff in the field, gleaning in the field. And wouldn't you know it, in chapter 2, verse 5, along comes Boaz. Boaz said to his servant in verse 5 who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this"? Translated in everyday language, "Hey". He sees Ruth gleaning the field. I mean, she's just gleaning the field. She's just picking up stuff in the field, reaping in the field. Boaz says, "Hmm. Good gugga mugga. What you say"? He's coming on any kind of way, but he notices her.
He says, "This is the Moabitess woman. This is one of the women from over there, Moabite woman," the guys tells Boaz. "She returned with Naomi from the land of Moab". And she said, "Can we glean"? Then Boaz, verse 8, said to Ruth, "Listen carefully, my daughter". It's like saying, "Listen carefully, baby". "Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field. A lot of fields out here you can glean in. I want you in this one. Don't go to another field to glean. Furthermore, do not go up from this one, but stay here with my maids. Every time I pass through the field, I want to see you. Don't go gleaning nowhere else. You stay right here, okay"?
Now, there was a law called the law of the kinsman redeemer. The law of the kinsman redeemer said that the next person in line of your kin folk could step in when there was someone who died to replace them as your mate. And that person was known as the kinsman redeemer. He could get back what was lost by death by marrying. Boaz was in line, but he wasn't the next in line. There was somebody ahead of Boaz. So, when you read the story, you'll find out that the one who was next in line got kicked to the curb. Through a series of events, he was no longer the next in line, which put Boaz next in line.
Let me tell you something about Boaz. Boaz was old, but not cold, okay? He was a lot older man. So ladies, if a much older man comes looking for you, it's all right. He can be a cougar, you can't, okay? Boaz was older. So, Boaz is older, but Boaz falls in love with this younger woman. And through a series of events, because he now qualifies through the sovereign providential hand of God, they get married. Now remember, when she started this, Naomi is telling her, "There's probably no hope for you to get married". But that's human opinion. That's what man can see and that's what it may look like to you. But she made a faith decision to move in faith, not move in circumstance. And this series of events turns around where Boaz now becomes her redeemer, the one who can buy her back, so to speak, into a relationship.
Now, turn to the end of the book, the fourth chapter, the last two verses as we conclude. "And to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz Obed. And to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse was born David". Okay, watch this now. When we started four chapters earlier, we got a widow, she's by herself, no hope for marriage. She's got a mother-in-law, it's safer to go back home. And when you live by sight, you always play it safe. But when you live by faith, that means you got to take a risk 'cause you can't see. So, she makes a faith decision, "Your God will be my God, and I'm going to make my God your God". And she makes a faith decision that she acts on, goes back home with Naomi, Boaz sees her.
In the last two verses of the book, we give it a little history. It says, "Salmon gave birth to Boaz". But if you remember, when we went over Hebrews chapter 11, we taught you who Salmon married. Salmon married Rahab. So, Boaz's mother was a prostitute. When Rahab the harlot chose God, she went back to Israel, the builder of the city of Jerusalem was Salmon. Salmon fell in love with a prostitute, her past didn't destroy her future. They fell in love and got married, Rahab the prostitute got pregnant. Rahab the prostitute gave birth to Boaz. Boaz is returning form Bethlehem, the city that his father built. On his way from Bethlehem, he crosses his field, he sees Ruth.
Boaz and Ruth hook up, they have a baby called Obed. The same woman who couldn't get pregnant from her first husband gets pregnant from her second husband. Obed grows up, gets married, has a baby, that baby's name is Jesse. Jesse grows up, gets married and has a baby. That baby's name is David, who becomes the king of Israel. Fast forward to Matthew chapter 1 and it says, "And David became the Father of Jesus Christ". If you check back the lineage of Jesus Christ, you got folks in his line that don't belong there. You got a prostitute, better known as a whore. You got a Moabitess, who was of a foreign nature. But when you choose God, you never know how God's going to flip it, twist it, tweak it, turn it. You never know how God's going to do that thing when you give him the opportunity and you trust him even though you can't see him.
So, on this Mother's Day, there ought to be some Zipporahs here who slip in and say, "I'm going to stand for God whether the man is going to do it or not". There ought to be some Ruths here that says, "I'm going to trust God even though I can't see the result". And then you'll celebrate in however God chooses to make himself known in your situation. Happy Mother's Day as you celebrate the greatness of women who move by faith.