Exodus 18

Exodus 18 has Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law hearing “of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people”.  Moses had sent his wife and two sons to stay with him for a while.  But now, “Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God”.  Things seemed under control and stable, so Jethro is ready to return his daughter and grandsons to their dad.  They come to the place Moses is and he “told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them”.

It was some pretty amazing news.  “Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done”.  He had to be proud of his son-in-law.  So Moses moved on to the next part of his job – to lead the people.  “Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening”.  These are some needy people.  They are whiners and complainers, not only with their leaders, but with each other.  “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said…. Why do you sit alone”?

Jethro could see this was not a sustainable leadership model.  Moses is carrying the entire load.  Not unusual for a guy with an entrepreneurial mindset.  Moses just did what needed to be done without really looking at the cost.  Jethro tells him “What you are doing is not good….You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone”.  Some pretty strong advice for a guy that just showed up.  But he is obviously passionate about helping Moses get life under control.  This may be the first reference to life-work tension.  Moses is overwhelmed.  Then Jethro lets him have it – “Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you”.  It wasn’t a suggestion, it was an order.

Seems pretty strong for the situation but Moses not only listens, he does exactly as Jethro instructs him.  He was told to “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens”.  Go find some good men, break down the people into manageable groups, and empower these guys to serve.  “Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves”.  It isn’t a complicated plan.  And Jethro is dialed in with God and assures a good outcome.  So “Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said”.  A great example of a man who listened to the wisdom of his elder and executed as he was admonished.

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