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Thursday, April 22, 2021

EXODUS – GOD’s MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE of ISRAEL FROM EGYPT – Chapter EIGHTEEN

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

GOLDEN ADVICE FOR LEADERS – EXODUS 18 by Sonny Islas;  
watch the Facebook video here.                                       

Introduction: In this chapter we’re going to find Moses overworking himself due to basically leading the entire nation of Israel (2 million people or more) all by himself. Thankfully, at this point Moses gets a very needed visit from Jethro his father-in law, who will give Moses some golden advice that will save Moses and his ministry from early burnout! This visit from Jethro wasn’t a coincidence but a GOD-incident!

Exodus 18:1
1 And Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people—that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt
.

JETHRO: means “His Excellence.” Seeing that Moses’ father-in-law was the priest of Midian, Jethro was most likely an honorable title given to him. His actual name was Reuel (Exod. 2:18). Reuel: means “friend of God.” Abraham the Patriarch, Jethro’s forefather (as we’ll soon discover) was also called Reuel - “the friend of God,” (James 2:23).

JETHRO was THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN: Midian, is modern day Saudi Arabia. Midian was the son of Abraham from his wife Keturah whom he married after Sarah’s death (Gen. 25:2). 

Which means that Jethro and Zipporah are direct descendants of Abraham which makes them distant relatives of Moses who is also a direct descendant of Abraham. Jethro and Zipporah come from Abraham’s second wife Keturah and Moses comes from Abraham’s first wife Sarah [we would call them step-children, and half- brothers/sisters to each other]. This is not a violation of marrying your sibling as that law had not yet been given for specific reasons.

THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN: Jethro was a prominent religious leader in Midian. He obviously learned the NAME and holy ways of Yahweh from his forefathers going all the way back to his father Abraham. But as we’ll soon see, Jethro’s faith and knowledge of Yahweh was not yet fully mature. It seems as though, before meeting with Moses here, Jethro had some respect for other religions and gods.

JETHRO… HEARD OF ALL THAT GOD HAD DONE: News traveled fast in the Middle East. Jethro got the 411 on Moses and the great exodus. Jethro being a prominent leader most likely got word from traveling ambassadors and world leaders; from caravans (people traveling from one place to another in packs; the entire Sinai Peninsula was a central trade route for commerce in that entire region of the world), and from his daughter Zipporah (which means ‘bird’). They didn’t have group text, twitter, CNN or Fox News back then, it was mainly all by word of mouth.

Jethro recognizes that God/Yahweh was graciously working for Moses’ and Israel’s good. Jethro gives credit where credit is due – to GOD!

Exodus 18:2-4
2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back, 3 with her two sons, of whom the name of one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land”) 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”)

Moses named his two sons according to his life experiences. In those days and in the Middle East names were significant because they were connected to a parents' experiences (good or bad). People were often renamed to reflect character traits that they develop later on in life by God’s touch (We see this often: Jacob is named Israel; Simon is renamed Peter, Saul is renamed Paul, etc.). Today, for the most part people pick names that are most popular. If we picked names today like they did back, then I would have named my son Blue – pain in the neck and his younger brother Damian – pain in the butt (Just kidding!). They are a huge blessing!

GERSHOM: means stranger – pointing to Moses’ having to flee to Midian and live there as a stranger for 40 years. ELIEZER: means God is my help/deliverer – pointing to Moses escaping Pharaoh’s death penalty (Remember Moses killed an abusive Egyptian slave driver while trying to help a fellow Israelite; Exod 2:11-12).

These two names – “Stranger” and “God is my deliverer” - also marks the life of every true Christian because we too are in a sense are strangers in this world that is not our permanent home (we’re just passing through as pilgrims – voyagers traveling foreign lands to find their homeland; Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11). 
And GOD has delivered and is delivering us from the power of death, this world, the flesh and Satan. And will soon take us home!

See this SHINE BRIGHT Church presentation with all three pastors teaching about:
OUR THREE ENEMIES: PERSECUTION By Satan, the Flesh and the World 
 
Exodus 18:5-10
5 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: 6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians
.

Vs. 7 SO MOSES WENT OUT TO MEET HIS FATHER-IN-LAW, BOWED DOW, AND KISSED HIM:

This act of utmost respect to Jethro points to Moses' humility. Regarding notoriety and significance: Here we have the greater man - Moses, paying respect to the lesser man - Jethro. Moses leads and watches over millions, while Jethro leads and watches over possibly hundreds or even thousands – seeing that he is THE (main) priest of Midian. Moses bowed as unto royalty and kissed to show his appreciation and affection. Here was a man who loved his in-laws!

No matter how the LORD uses us or how the LORD has blessed us, we should never let it go to our heads. Remaining humble always is the key (Psalm 10:17; Isaiah 57:15; Matt 5:5; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

AND THEY ASKED EACH OTHER ABOUT THEIR WELL-BEING: Here we see a mutual care for one another. It’s important to check up on one another like this. These kinds of conversations where we show genuine concern for one another is what builds strong and lasting relationships. Even before they talked about ministry work, they talked about how they were both doing personally.

Vs. 8 MOSES TOLD HIS FATHER-IN-LAW ALL THAT THE LORD HAD DONE:

Moses begins to unload on Jethro, about all the great things the LORD had done. The plagues and wonders, the splitting of the Red Sea, the drawing of Pharaoh’s powerful army forces, and even about Israel’s complaints – “no water!” “no food!” and how God came through by turning bitter water sweet, sending manna down from heaven, giving water from a large rock and the defeat of the Amalekites (Exodus 17).

It’s important to joyfully share what the LORD has done and is doing in your life with others. Especially the beauty of the gospel message and what Jesus did to save sinners.
Jethro can’t help but shout “Blessed be the LORD who delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and the hand of Pharaoh…!” Our testimonies of God’s goodness may cause others to praise the LORD and even turn to Him.

Exodus 18:11-27
11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:

16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

Vs. 11 Jethro says, “NOW I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.

Again, it seems as though at this time and in this moment, Jethro came to saving faith. It was as though he knew about God before this meeting with Moses but now he knows God for himself. “NOW I know!!”
Jethro realized that Yahweh was greater and stronger than the pantheon of Egyptian gods and the Pharaoh. This convinced Jethro that there is truly no one or nothing greater than Yahweh!

Vs. 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and other sacrifices to offer to God.

Here we see Jethro wasting no time - he gets right to worshipping GOD. One who is truly converted can’t help but worship the LORD. Their new and happy heart compels them to praise the LORD for who He is and what He’s done!

Vs. 13 Moses [alone] sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening

NON- STOP work. Listening to disputes all day long. Finding ways to fix people's problems all day long from sunup to sundown. In verse 15 Moses says, “I make known the statutes and laws of God.” Moses pointed people to the Word – and God’s ways. Not his own opinions etc. Good spiritual leaders know their bibles, know their God and point people to the LORD’s written Word.

Vs. 14 THEN [JETHRO] SAW ALL THAT MOSES DID FOR THE PEOPLE:

Jethro took the time to honestly look and see where Moses can become a better and more efficient leader. Jethro sincerely cared for Moses’ well-being and the well-being of the entire congregation of Israel. Jethro was a wise man.

Let’s take a look at Jethro’s golden advice for the tired leader Moses:

The first thing that Jethro notices is that Moses is doing all the main work alone. And that if he continues, He and His people are going to burnout.
One commentator says that after this piece of golden advice, Moses experienced 40 more years of good and strong but hard ministry and had Jethro not spoken, Moses would have been burnt out within 5 years – if that!

For pastors and ministers suffering burn out or want to prevent it, check out:
ABLE MINISTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

Vs. 17 Jethro says to Moses, “The thing that you do is not good.

Jethro was good with Moses pointing people to God’s ways, but he was against Moses doing all the work by himself to the point where Moses had no time to even pray!

By the way, good and humble leaders should be open to constructive criticism like Moses here. There should be people in our lives, people we respect who have credibility who feel confident enough to tell us when and where we’re wrong – who can say, “this is no good.” Or do we believe that we’re we too good? Are we above constructive criticism? Do we make no mistakes? Or are we still moldable and teachable?

This is called humility and accountability to others. Everyone needs this, even lead pastors like Moses. I personally have a handful of men that I respect who have given me advice about ministry and have pointed out a few things that can be made better. Just the other day my Dad asked me how things were going in the ministry and gave me a few pointers.

Vs. 19 Jethro counsels Moses to “stand before God and the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God

He was telling Moses to make prayer a priority. And that all this overbearing work done alone was going to crush him and that it was distracting him from seeking God.

I believe that a lead teaching pastor, or senior pastor needs at least 25 to 30 hours a week to pray, study the Word and prepare sermons (besides everything else he does) if he is going to be a good leader and bible teacher.

In Acts 6:4 when the ministry load became too much for the Apostles, the Apostles confirmed seven deacons to serve people’s physical needs and they said, “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

Jethro then advises Moses to delegate the work and to choose men who can help him in this ministry work.

He also tells Moses what kind of men to choose. They must be qualified men.
“Able men…GOD fearing men…men of truth…haters of covetousness (unbribable)” - We see similar qualifications for pastors and deacons in Acts 6:3, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9.

More helpers will ease the load and be more of a blessing for Moses and all the people.
There are some senior pastors who will not raise up others due to fear of being replaced. Some do not like to delegate work because they feel they alone can do a great job (a serious symptom of being a ‘control freak’ or a perfectionist). A stingy spiritual leader will only stall the growth of a congregation.

Others need to be poured into and given ministry as potential is noticed. I'm personally grateful for James and Albert. They help me with discipleship classes, baptism classes, translating, home bible studies, premarital counseling, outreaches, prayer meetings, and teaching. This gives me the freedom to focus on my main responsibility and that is to pray hard, study hard and teach the best I can every week.

We can apply this principle at work and at home too: for example there are some parents who do all the house chores because they don’t delegate the work to their kids for different reasons: It takes too much time, takes discipline and training. They don’t do a good enough job etc.

Listen, even though Jethro’s golden advice was geared toward spiritual leaders, everyone can take something out of this and apply it somehow.

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