October 18, 2020
The book of Exodus tells the story of the birth of the nation of Israel fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham. From the seventy descendants of Jacob, Israel was fruitful and multiplied greatly until they filled the whole land of Egypt. After four centuries of slavery, God answers the cries of His people for deliverance. God raises up Moses for this calling, to lead his people out of bondage to a land of promise and deliverance.
Some of the greatest stories of the Bible are featured in Exodus—from the Ten Plagues, and the Passover, to the crossing of the Red Sea, and the establishment of the covenant at Mount Sinai. The Passover lamb, the exodus from the land of Egypt, the seven feasts, the tabernacle, and even the high priest, are all foreshadows of the ministry of Christ.
Chapters 1-18 contains the events leading up to God’s delivering the Hebrews from their captivity in Egypt, and chapters 19-40 shares the events in the wilderness and the account of God’s instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai to direct the life and worship of the nation.
1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5 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. 6 And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. 8 Then Moses 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. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 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? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 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. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, 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. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 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.”
24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
- Jethro was the priest of Midian. Some have suggested that he was a priest of a pagan deity, however, he may very well have been a believer in the Most High God. What was Jethro’s response to all he heard about what God had done for the Israelites (v. 9)?
- It is significant that the passage continues to refer to Jethro as Moses’ father-in-law. The passage shows a close and respectful relationship between the two. We are reminded of the importance of good, respectful relationships among family members. Are there relationships within your own family in need of mending or reconciliation?
- Jethro was concerned for his son-in-law and the incredible pressure he was under sitting as a judge for the people every day from morning until evening (v. 13). He offered Moses some “fatherly advice” (vv. 14-23).
- How did Moses respond to his father-in-law’s advice (v. 24)?
- How do you receive constructive criticism from people who care about you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise your Holy Name! Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may live my life in obedience to you. Lord, when I lack wisdom, I look to you and ask that you may give to me wisdom from above and in abundance. Remove pride from my heart that I may be humble and receptive to the genuine wisdom of other believers. Conform me into the image of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.