Moses is beginning to burn out from too much responsibility. His family is trapped between the people and their God and it takes his father-in-law Jethro to provide counsel on a new and better way to organize and lead the people. Join the Pastors for an insightful conversation about the challenges to receive feedback and humbly change our behavior, even when it is better for everyone around us.
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Transcript[00:00:00] Clint Loveall: Hey friends, welcome back as we finish week in Exodus. A lot of ground to cover today. Um, probably try to get through chapter 18, which is, uh, sort of a connected story and an interesting backstory. Um, Moses’ father-in-law, Jetro, makes an appearance. I’m not gonna read the whole chapter, but just kind of try to give you the front part, the highlights, and then we’ll go on with the rest of the story.
The short version is there’s an. Verse here, verse two. It says, after Moses had sent away his wife zipper, his father-in-law, Jethro, took her back along with her two sons, one Gersh for, she said, I’ve been an alien in a foreign land, and the name of the other Leer for, he said, the God of my father was my help and delivered me from the sort of Pharaoh.
Um, we don’t know exactly. What to make of this. Uh, the, the fact that she names her first child I was an alien could lead us to believe that she wants to return home. That, you know, she’s not loving, hanging out in the desert, that she wants to go back and see her father. And Moses says, yes, that this sin sending language is interesting.
Af after Moses had sent. His wife zipper, that may not be as harsh as it sounds. That could be the equivalent of after he had said goodbye or after he had sent her on her way. Um, and Jethro then brings zipper and the two children back, uh, to where Moses is. And it’s, I don’t know Michael, what we make of this.
To my knowledge, nobody has really done a lot with it. It does, I think, highlight. It reminds us of Moses, uh, dual loyalty. He has loyalty to God. He has loyalty to his family. Um, it’s possible that he is also realizing now that they’ve, we’ve seen an attack of, of violent confrontation, a battle. Maybe he’s thinking safety for his family.
There it, uh, This feels like one of those texts where we’re missing some background information that they would’ve understood that I don’t think we do.[00:02:17] Michael Gewecke: Yeah, agreed. I think that’s well said. I would only add to that this idea that not only is it Moses who’s in the middle, which we’ve said now countless times in the midst of our study of Exodus, but Claire and I think at this point we can also say with some confidence that in.
Moses’ wife is in the middle. There’s a sense in which she coming from a nation outside, both Israel and Egypt, finds herself literally to be outside. And here we have it named, I’ve been an alien in a foreign land. And you know, that is a real experience here in the book of Exodus. It, it has popped up so many times.
We’ve seen it in so many. Iterations now with Moses. Clearly we can see this, this thread that’s been woven through the narrative and what I think maybe is interesting to me in this story, you know, just to put it simply, Clint is here. It’s not directed entirely at Moses. Here we see it’s even reached out to Moses’ family and anyone who’s served in the position of leadership in some way knows that though you can create boundaries.
There are often impacts of leadership, even on one’s family. And so just very practic. This makes sense. Uh, you know, I, I as well don’t know of any commentary who’s made a point about what this has to say about Moses’ relationship with his wife or his kids. I, I don’t know that if it’s been written, but I do find it interesting for just the, the pure simplicity of the fact that clearly being, Between exists more than just for Moses, and that’s having an impact here in these family relationships.[00:03:54] Clint Loveall: Yeah, and you know, zipper has a tough spot here. She’s, she’s married to Moses, who’s returned to Egypt, and she then is not, uh, an Israelite, but is connected to the Israelites. They are her people by marriage. Um, Moses, you know, is not the most popular man in the camp often as the Israelites complain. Um, she’s in an interesting predicament.
Her father then sends word that he’s bringing the family back to Moses. And, and from what we can tell Michael, Moses and Jethro have a very real affection for one another. We saw that early in the book. I think we see it here. You know, just a couple of these verses. Um, Moses went out to meet his father-in-law.
He bowed down and kissed him, and each asked up after the other’s welfare and went into the tent. Then Moses and his told his father-in-law all that had happened, and Jethro rejoiced for all the good the Lord had done to Israel in delivering them from the Egyptians. And so he said, you know, bless be the Lord for doing this and.
You know, and then they eat bread together with the elders. And so I, it seems that this is a very, and we’re going to see it, I think even more, another aspect, another nuance of this relationship. But I, Moses, this seems to be a nice reprieve for him in the return of his family, and certainly in this consultation with his father-in-law.[00:05:28] Michael Gewecke: Yeah. And maybe somewhat oddly, in such a positive fashion, I mean, He’s bringing his daughter and sons and there’s not a rebuke in it. There’s not criticism in it. In fact, here you have an outsider treating Moses with more compassion and with more understanding than what Moses is finding amongst his own people who saw firsthand God saved them from the Egyptian captivity and bring them through the Red Sea.
It’s, it’s really interesting, especially if you know the larger Old Testament narratives, Clint. Where a foreigner is cast with such positive understanding, such faith in the story being told of God, rescuing the people. Jethro is, he’s not a normal type character. If you were gonna type cast in the Old Testament narratives, I, I just think it’s really interesting here.
To not only see him so receptive to the God of Israel, but as we’re gonna see in just a few moments here today, he’s actually going to be one who’s counted on for wisdom within that body. That is quite a high honor. It’s quite a gift to be given in the text like this.[00:06:41] Clint Loveall: Yeah. He praises the Lord and uses the name, the Divine name, Yahweh.
Then he offers a burnt offering. So I mean, there’s certainly a high degree. Worship and, and allegiance here that Jetro shows. I think probably for most people, the back half of this story is the more interesting one. It’s, it’s interesting, again, historical, but I think practically it’s really interesting.
Jetro spends the day with Moses and, uh, verse 14 here, when Moses father-in-law saw all the, he was doing for the people, he said, what are you doing? For the people. Why do you sit alone while the people stand around you from morning until evening? And Moses explains that he’s hearing the arguments of the people, the disputes of the people.
He’s acting as a judge. He’s, uh, again, playing that mediator role. Of standing between them and God, uh, he says it here. I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God. And then Jethro says an interesting thing, verse 17. What you’re doing is not good.
You will wear yourself out, both you and these people for the task is too heavy and you cannot do it alone. And then he counsels Moses that he should find other men. Um, we jump down here to about verse 21. You should also look for able men among the people, men who fear God are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain.
Set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Let them sit as judges for the people. Let them bring every important case to you, but decide minor cases for themselves so it will be easier for you and they will bear the burden with you. And then Moses does that. He puts that into action.
So, uh, here, this is a. I think this is a, a great snapshot. We have an older man, a faithful man, a man of faith who watches his son-in-law, kind of overdoing it and, and offers him advice. He speaks into Moses life with guidance. Why don’t you do this instead? You can’t keep this pace up. You can’t do all of this.
You know, and if, if you’re ever have been fortunate enough to have one of those wise people counsel you in a moment you needed. I, this is a story that is relatable. Um, there’s not a lot of, there’s not a lot of supernatural in this story. In fact, I would say this is just good old fashioned kind of wisdom.
Jethro just sees Moses’ pattern and says, Moses, you can’t, you can’t keep this up. You need to trust other people. You need to involve other people. And so just a lot of wisdom throughout this text, Michael, and I think an interesting[00:09:31] Michael Gewecke: story. We often look in these texts, Clint, for what they had to teach us, and maybe this story is in some ways a letdown because if you’re looking for high tone, spiritual insight, and if you’re looking for this story to somehow revolutionize your spirituality, you’re likely to not find it.
Uh, and in fact, you’re likely to miss what is maybe the most simple point that you could find. I think it’s verse 24 here. So Moses listened, , so he listened, so he did something about it, so he enacted it. If you have ever had. That blessing of someone to come in your life to assess a situation, maybe a place that you even thought long in the heart about, but you now find yourself in a difficult circumstance.
They assess it, they look at it and they say to you, You know what you really should do is this. If you’ve ever had that, you know it is absolutely one thing for you to hear that and for you to think, yeah, I appreciate the advice, but I did it the way I did it for a reason. It’s another thing, Clint entirely.
To have the humility to respond to that and to actually implement to say that, yes, this is something I’m willing to give up, that this is an authority or role amongst the people that you’re right. Jethro, I, I can’t keep, you know, and Moses then, uh, implements this. Wisdom, this, this, this structuring of the people.
And for a modern reader, that may sound a little bit like bookkeeping, it may sound a little parliamentary. You know, why do we need to have this in our Bibles? I think there is some very contemporary wisdom in recognizing our own limitations, and I think that does. To this story that we just had previously.
Clint, you might remember if you missed it, uh, jump back yesterday and, and, uh, listen to this whole conflict in which Moses keeping his hands in the air is the only thing that brings the people to victory. And of course, he gets tired, so he needs people on both sides to hold him up. In. In that story, we introduce the idea that Moses had limits in this story.
We see that those limits need to be planned around, that you actually need to construct this whole system for the people so that he can be healthy so that Moses can make the decisions that are major and the minor stuff can be dealt by people who are trustworthy. I, I, I just think there’s real wisdom in this if we’re willing to hear it, and it would apply to many of our.
Very harried, busy lives. Yeah,[00:12:09] Clint Loveall: I mean, it’s easy to read this and see organizational strategy. It’s easy to see some leadership lessons. It’s easy to see the struggle that leaders have to trust others and to bring others into what they’re doing. However, keep in mind that I think one of the things that makes this fascinating is that this is a significant change.
Moses is here making decisions that affect all of Israel and they’re. Uh, they’re not dictated from God. The Jethro sees Moses in a pattern that he thinks is not the, the healthiest pattern for him. He speaks into that and Moses implements that and apparently has the freedom to do that. And so, um, this is an interesting moment and this also becomes a kind of, A, a, a loose paradigm of what we’re going to see, you know, in the book of Judges.
This is kind of how Israel is going to work in the foreseeable future in regard to the story and. It comes from this relationship that these two men have, and particularly in this case, the older man who looks and with some concern says, you’re, you’re bearing this burden alone and you shouldn’t. So it’s a very communal story.
A very practical story. I, I, I just think you know, this is, uh, I think this part of the chapter is more accessible and, and probably more helpful realistically for most of us.[00:13:37] Michael Gewecke: Just wanna highlight another verse that I think has some real wisdom in it. And, uh, that would be verse 21. Here. You should look for able men among the people, uh, who fear.
Our trustworthy hate, dishonest gain. This is, this remains a very, very wise list. You see a list, something similar to this in the pastoral epistles in the New Testament, A list of qualifications for leadership. But in our own world, Clinton, in our own contemporary times, if we could put forward those who fear God are trustworthy and who hate dishonest gain, that would be a.
Set of qualifications for any person who is put in position of leadership, we should recognize the intent of those who serve. It should be for the sake of those who they serve, not for their own gain. Uh, they should be trustworthy in even when others are not looking, even when they’re not in the.
Highlight, uh, or the, uh, the, the sort of middle of the spectacle. They should be people of good character in and out. And, you know, someone who recognizes with humility, God’s role and, and their place as an under shepherd. They’re a person who serves underneath God’s own authority that this is. The kind of basic things, which maybe we get so fixated on.
The other fancier things. You can go read leadership books all day long, Clint, but there’s something very fundamental. There’s something very grounded and simple, and yet deep and wise about looking for that person who you can trust and. You know, Moses selects these individuals and if you know your Bible, you know that Israel has lots of leadership troubles ahead.
But it’s not to say that there isn’t something in this that we should be attuned to.[00:15:28] Clint Loveall: Right. And then Jethro tells him, you know, if you do this, we’re, uh, verse 23 here, if you do this, And God so commands you, then you will be able to endure and these people will go to their home in peace. So, uh, this is interestingly, Jethro sees that this is not just about Moses’ health, this isn’t just about Moses’ status, but is this is about the state of all Israel that, uh, for them to tax him is.
Uh, at some point risk him being the leader that he needs to be in. So, uh, spread the, spread the load here, let other people help and then you will be able to endure. Uh, and, uh, just, you know, again, uh, One of the reasons perhaps that the Book of Exodus speaks highly of Jethro may have been something like this, in which he leaves a significant impact, not only on Moses and Moses own mental health and his own state of mind, but on all of the people.
And so a really interesting story. Hope there’s something in it. That speaks to[00:16:36] Michael Gewecke: you. Yeah, and there’s some interesting stuff to come. I, I think we can begin to see a pattern, which we’ll see flushed out here, Clint, where the people who left the order. Of captivity, the sort of organizing of Egypt are now having to figure out in the wilderness what it looks like to have their own organization under God.
And the stories it goes is going to only make that more and more concrete until it comes to the point where God needs to give them divine order to say that this is the order in which your lives are best lived. And here we can see the early. Sort of forming, you know, sort of like a, you know how a star forms, you know, there’s sort of a gravity building here.
As now Moses has to learn to delegate and pretty soon we’re gonna have some rules. There’s just a kind of formation happening in the people in the wilderness. They have to be in the wilderness and they have to trust God in the midst of the formation, and yet something new is being created and I think we get to watch[00:17:37] Clint Loveall: it.
Yeah, Israel is still. They have the possibility of being a people, but they’re not there yet. And, uh, several of the next chapters are going to deal with some of the structure by which God gives them the opportunity to get there.[00:17:53] Michael Gewecke: Oh, we’re glad that you’ll be with us here today. Friends, we’d invite you to subscribe if you find this kinda study, interesting comment if you have any questions or thoughts.
And we look forward to seeing you, uh, with the next study as we go once again next week on Monday. Have a good weekend.