Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Lasting Impact of Jethro’s Risk -- Exodus 18:24-27:


So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.  And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.  And they judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge.  Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.
 
Because of the advice that Jethro gave Moses, the way he delivered it, and his caution that it only be accepted if God told Moses to accept it as well, Moses listened to his father-in-law.  When I was younger and people did not understand me or like what I said, I used to think that the problem lay strictly with them.  “It was the receiver’s fault, not the speaker’s,” I would argue.  Now I know I was wrong.  You see the point of me (or anyone else for that matter) giving advice to someone you love is for him or her to accept your advice.  So why would I not want to say it in a way that augments the probability of them doing so?  Why would I not want to phrase my advice in way that shows them the value of what I am suggesting for them, and for those that matter to them?  And finally if I really believed in the advice I am giving, that it is indeed in accordance with what I believe God wants for them, why would I not want to have them ascertain that very thing from God Himself, leaving the matter of one’s acceptance strictly to God and the individual involved?  There is much we can learn from Jethro’s counsel to Moses, but also from the process that he employed to deliver it.  As a result, the text tells us Moses did all that Jethro had recommended for him to do.  Jethro succeeded in the purpose I believe God had laid on his heart to achieve.
It appears the people saw the good in all that Moses did and lived by rules he established for them in the matter of governance and dispute resolution.  Clearly when God lays a task to be carried out in the heart of someone, and he/she succeeds, the blessing is felt not only by those directly involved but sometimes entire nations.  What has God laid on your heart today?  Are you able to follow through and deliver for Him?
And Aside: Let us for a moment consider Moses’ wife Zipporah about which we will write more when covering Exodus 19.  You will remember that when Jethro arrived at Moses’ camp in the wilderness, Moses greeted him, but there is no reference to his greeting Zipporah or his sons.  Did he ignore her?  We are not sure.  But we also do not know, at this point in scripture at least, whether or not Zipporah and the boys remained with Moses when Jethro left.  The Bible is silent on all this.  It appears that the descendants of Moses played only minor parts in the history of the Jewish people and God had focused strictly on Moses to accomplish His will at this time.  
This 18th chapter of Exodus ends with Moses saying good-bye to his father-in-law who had come to visit him in the wilderness.  Earlier in the scriptures, God arranged for Moses to become related to Jethro through marriage.  Then God used Jethro to impact Moses perhaps more so than any other human being had impacted him to date.  People often come into our lives for a purpose that God has in mind.  We are either the one who has to carry out what God laid on our hearts to share with others, or we are the one who has to hear what God has to say to us through others.  Who is in your life right now and why are they there?  Or, whose life are you in right now and why are you there?
Clearly what Jethro was able to accomplish made a difference.  It made a difference to Moses, his son-in-law, allowing him to lead the people of Israel for many years without getting burned-out.  It made a difference to how the people of Israel survived their years in the wilderness and how they slowly became established as a people right up to the nation of Israel today.  Much of their governance and structure originated from Jethro’s advice to Moses.  And it made a difference to the world as it has adopted many of the same principles in the way it conducts its affairs at various levels of government, in its commercial organizations, its military units, and even its judicial systems.  All this started with Jethro caring enough for his son-in-law to take a risk and offer him godly advice.
My prayer for us is that we consider what risk God wants us to take with whom today.  Who knows, our success may impact the world.
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