I) READ TEXT 2 TIMES
7So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
9Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
15Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
17Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God and hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
24Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.- Exodus 18
II) WHAT STANDS OUT TO YOU?
IIV) SEVEN THOUGHTS SO FAR - 1st DRAFT
1) I have honestly wondered how Moses could be a humble man
Think about how God had uses him to release God's people from Egypt. How often did Jesus do a miracle and say, "don't tell anyone about it". How many times did Moses do a miracle and EVERYONE knew about it.
He was able to converse with YHWH with unveiled face:
Numbers 12:3 "3 Now the man Moses was a quietly humble man, more so than anyone living on Earth." - apparently Moses wrote this! Some have said it was editors that put it in, which makes sense:)
God disciplined him and he was not able to enter the promised land. Numbers 20:12 - "you did not trust me". Moses knew he was not perfect.
2) I find it compelling that Moses wore out, I have often been worn out here at the Village too.
V. 18 - Jethro could see it. You need help buddy!
At the Village, I need help to bear the burden with me too. Admin, board, preach, enfolding, baptism class, small groups, fundraising... It's too much!
Calvin points out that admitting that the burdens were too greate is one of the ways that Moses learned humility:
Not sure what your tendencies are. You need people to bear the burden with you too!
3) I see it as important that Jethro had no formal role
Moses was the leader of Egypt, not Jethro.
God does not have a team. He can speak through anyone and use anyone, (jael the kenite, King of Egypt gen 12:18 fears God). Why not Jethro?
v24 -"so Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said."
It takes humility to listen and learn from one another - regardless of formal role.
4) I see it as important that Jethro was Moses' elder
Moses shows the culturally appropriate means of respect for his elder "bowed down and kissed him" - v7
We are becoming increasingly young. We need to figure out culturally appropriate ways to seek to undersand and honour the legacy of our older members (listening to stories, recognizing sacrifices, etc.)
5) I have often struggled to find "capable men, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain"
We just went to an intercultural conference. One of the themes was not to appoint newcomers to faith to lead who are not ready. If there is anywhere where we could make this mistake it is at the Village. We need people. We need leaders even more!
With leadership the opportunities for a shipwreck disaster are many - the rewards few. If we see it anywhere it is in the life of Moses. How many times was Moses' leadership challenged? (___)
In some ways, why should I/we be surprised when we find it hard to find labourers - not glamerous. Jesus himself forcasted it 'harvest is pleantiful, workers few'.
6) Appointed leaders fail. Young/old. Newcomer group/legacy group
God disciplined Moses and he was not able to enter the promised land. Numbers 20:12 - "you did not trust me".
. Jesus said, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me" - and it seems that he was doing the father's will when he appointed men who ....failed!
The leaders appointed did not do as good of a job as Moses - one could guess? He was still to handle complicated cases, but they were to be trusted.
"God trusts us even though we are untrustworthy." professor wrote on a paper in which i admitted darkest sins of my heart.
7) We feel 'called to serve' at the Village, but what does it look like practically?
Next Sunday people are signing our Community Covenant. You are invited to sign it if you are a baptized member at the Village. This will be the first time the Village has introduced something resembling "membership expectations" on our people. Why are we doing it?
We have a decent identity statement: "we are an intimate, intergenerational, intercultural church that thrives on serving and learning together", but this vision and call of our church will not be sustained if we cannot transition people from guests on a cruise ship to crew members. This is our simple way of doing that.
"this is too much for you" Jethro said. "This is too much for you, is what I want to say to anyone who was here 5 years ago." When we sign we are saying "we are in this together."
IV) YOUR THOUGHTS!?
NOTE: The Spirit often speaks in community. For that reason, I value group discernment on a text. The purpose of this exercise is to find the "gold gospel nugget" of the text for today. Thank you for your unique perspective and allowing the Spirit to speak through you.
A) Of all that thoughts above on the text, including your own, which 1 or 2 points speak to you most? And why?
B) I am curious about your perspective on how this passage connects with:
your story, current experience or sense of what God has been speaking to you about personally.
our broader culture today
other times, places and Scriptures
C) What do you learn in a fresh way about God, people or life that you could aspire to, ask for or act on?