Monday, March 31, 2014

Jethro Decides Its Time To Speak Up -- Exodus 18:1-6

 
Now 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.  And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away, and her two sons, of whom one was named Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”  And the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”  Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mount of God.  And he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.”
As I come to this passage of scripture, I must provide what is referred to as “full disclosure”.  In the business world, Farlex defines this principle as follows according to “The Free Dictionary” online:
“The need in business transactions to tell the "whole truth" about any matter which the other party should know in deciding to buy or contract. In real estate sales in many states there is a full disclosure form which must be filled out and signed under penalty of perjury for knowingly falsifying or concealing any significant fact.”
So, based on that, please note I am indeed a “father-in-law” three times over and I have often been in situations where I felt I must speak up.  This continues to be the case at present.  Thus what is going on in this passage of Exodus is most relevant to me, and my own experiences will definitely reflect my comments.
Prior to this 18th chapter of Exodus, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had only been mentioned in two other verses by name.  In Exodus 3:1, he is mentioned as Moses’ employer in Midian where Moses had fled from ‘downtown’ Egypt after he had killed an Egyptian.  In Exodus 4:18, we are told that Moses went to him and asked for permission to return to Egypt to see how his Israelite brethren were coping, and Jethro bade him “go in peace” while his wife and children remained behind.  Earlier in Exodus 2:16-21, between the two references above, we read of how Moses and the “priest of Midian” (a.k.a. Jethro) came to be related through marriage.
So here we have Jethro, his father-in-law hearing of all God had done for Moses and the Israelites, bringing them out of Egypt.  The Midianites including Jethro and Moses’ wife Zipporah and his sons by her were not part of this migration.  They had remained in Midian with Jethro, Zipporah’s father (although some argue Jethro may also have been her brother since the translation for both father- and brother-in-law in Hebrew is similar according to some scholars).  Zipporah had possibly been sent back with the boys because of the argument she and Moses had gotten into on their way back to Egypt (as recorded in Exodus 4:24-26).
Moses had named one of his sons ‘Gershom’ recognizing his own state or condition of having spent much of his life in a foreign land as per its translation.  It would be good for all Christians to at least think sometimes as if they had a son called ‘Gershom’ for we too are simply sojourners or those that tarry in a foreign land.  Our real home is heaven.  His other son’s name, Eliezer, completes the scene for Moses providing all that he needs as he remains away from home.  ‘Eliezer’ means ‘God is my help’ and He delivered Moses from the sword of his enemy, Pharaoh.  Maybe a son called ‘Eliezer’ would be good for all of us as well in order to remember that God is our help and He can deliver us from the sword of our Enemy.
So having heard about all that was going on in Moses’ life, Jethro decides to pay him a visit in the wilderness (at the mount of God where he was camped) and he brings along Moses’ wife and two boys.  But whether out of custom, or common courtesy, or not wanting to catch him by surprise, Jethro sends word in advance that he was on his way.  Can you imagine, if you had left (not divorced) your wife and your children several years ago, getting a message from your father-in-law (or maybe your mother-in-law) saying, “I’m on my way and I have your wife and children with me”?
What was Jethro up to and how would Moses react?  As always, the life of a Christian is not about what “comes across our path” but “how we react to it”.  Stay tuned.

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