Have You Been Neglecting Your Baby?

Apparently leaving Midian with his family just a few days after Eliezer's birth, Moses set out for Egypt in obedience to the call of the Lord to go and lead the covenant people out of that land.39  The eighth day30 after Eliezer's birth arrived and passed, probably while the family was staying at an inn on their journey. But Moses deliberately resolved to leave the baby umircumcised, as we have already said, no doubt for the sake of avoiding another clash with the unbiblical views which his beloved wife held on this particular subject.

God, however, detests unprincipled compromise, especially at the hands of religious leaders like Moses, the famous deliverer of God's ancient people. For God had chosen precisely Moses to lead the true children of God out of compromise and backsliddenness and to revive them by restoring the covenant of grace between the Lord and His people, the covenant which they and their children had so repeatedly transgressed. Accordingly, "at the lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him" for neglecting to have his own baby circumcised in infancy.40

Moses guiltily sensed that the Lord was about to kill him. Knowing the reason why, the patriarch immediately repented of his evil neglect and gave hasty instructions

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that little Eliezer be circumcised. When this had been accomplished, the wrath of God abruptly turned away from Moses and the Lord "let him alone."41

As Calvin commented, Moses "was terrified by the approach of certain destruction. At the same time, the cause of his affliction was shown him, so that he hastened to seek for a remedy. For…it would never otherwise have occurred to himself and his wife to circumcise the child to appease God's wrath; and it will appear a little further on, that God was, as it were, propitiated by this offering — since He withdrew His hand, and took away the tokens of His wrath.

"I therefore unhesitatingly conclude, that vengeance was declared against Moses for his negligence, which was connected with still heavier sins; for he had not omitted his son's circumcision from forgetfulness or ignorance, or carelessness only, but because he was aware that it was disagreeable either to his wife or to his father-in-law [Jethro the godly but Non-Israelitic religious leader and priest of Midian]. Therefore, lest his wife should quarrel with him, or his father-in-law trouble him, he preferred to gratify them, [rather] than to give occasion for divisions, or enmity, or disturbance.

"In the meantime, how-ever, for the sake of the favour of men, he neglected to obey God…. Let us learn from hence to use reverently the sacraments, which are the seals of God's grace, lest He should severely avenge our despisal of them; and at the same time, we should remember that the external profession of piety and the worship of God is a sacrifice so pleasant to God that He will not allow us to omit the care of diligently testifying (about) it, as if it were a matter of small importance."42

lncidently, it should not for a moment be thought that Calvin made the above comment on this Biblical passage as if he himself were personally unacquainted with Moses' situation. Indeed, the cases of the various baptisms in Calvin's own family circle, are themselves most instructive.

Calvin himself was baptized but once in infancy in the Roman Catholic Church in Noyon in France. Of course, he was never rebaptized subsequently, for he was strongly opposed to rebaptism, on Biblical grounds (Romans 6:1-11 & Hebrews 6:1-8; cf. Calvin's Institutes IV:15:16-17 & lV:2:11-12).

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