Archive for August 17th, 2011

Exodus 18

Exodus 18 begins with a visit from Jethro who was Moses’ father-in-law.  Moses had sent his wife Zipporah back home along with their two boys, Gershom and Eliezer, for a time while he was consumed in leading the people.  Now Jethro is returning them to their rightful place with Moses as husband and father.  Moses greets his dad in law with great respect and “told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done”.  Jethro rejoined for all the good and soon “Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God”.  So far so good.  It is obvious that these wo men had mutual respect – they had a relationship.  We need to work hard to have that with our family.

Then the sun rises again and Jethro observes what Moses is up to and the questions begin to come.  “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, What is this that you are doing for the people”?  Seemed pretty obvious that Moses was doing what he had been doing for some time – leading people and sitting as judge amongst them.  Jethro doesn’t stop but continues with his observations and questions: “Why do you sit alone….from morning till evening”?  Of course Moses comes back with a defensive response that always means we are defending ourselves…..because.  Jethro pushes it to the limit and says “What you are doing is not good”.  You have to give Jethro credit here.  He wasn’t really asked to come and give his opinion.  He observes, sees some big problems ahead for Moses and his family, asks some hard questions and then gives some really good but rather direct advice.  Moses this needs to change.

But the genius is that he didn’t stop there.  It wasn’t just a bomb and then run and let Moses figure it out.  Jethro gives strong counsel for Moses. “You will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone”.  Something has to change.  But Jethro sticks with Moses and also gives some suggestions – well maybe not suggestions given how he begins – to the problem at hand.  Check out what he tells him:

–      “obey my voice

–      represent the people before God

–      warn them about the statutes and the laws

–      make them know the way in which they must walk….what they must do

–      look for able men….trustworthy and hate a bribe

–      place such men over the people

–      let them judge

–      every great matter they shall bring to you

He starts strong and ends stronger.  Jethro has a plan to divide and conquer and create a system to rule.  Such wisdom is available from those who have lived longer than us if we will only listen.

Then comes the best part from Jethro – his personal guarantee.  Jethro knows it will work.  “If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace”.  You see the picture here?  Jethro swoops into town and observes Moses – tells him what the problem is and then tells him exactly what the solution should be.  This really is a great picture of the first consultant I recall in scripture.  The unique thing is that it was unsolicited advice from Moses father-in-law.  That doesn’t always go well as often it is considered prying.  But “Moses listened….and did all that he had said”.  The outcome was powerful as Jethro was right.  We often don’t listen, and even if we do, we fail to take the advice and put it into action.  Moses is not some young kid that didn’t know anything.  He has led God’s people out of bondage and done some pretty amazing stuff.  Yet even he was overwhelmed and it took outside eyes and a willingness to share that on Jethro’s part for Moses to take his leadership to the next level.  I love how this ends: “Then Moses let his father-in-law depart”.  Moses didn’t chase him out of town – he held on to him until he gleaned all that was needed to solve the issue.

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