PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 18; Humble Testimony

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110515_exodus18.mp3

05/15 Exodus 18:1-27 Humble Testimony

Intro:

We’ve come to a crossroad in the book of Exodus. God has been about the business of rescuing his people from Egypt, intervening to save them from slavery. But his purpose was never to turn them loose to do whatever they wanted to do. His stated purpose to Pharaoh was ‘let my people go that they may serve me’ or ‘that they may worship me’. God is rescuing his people from futility to a life of purpose and meaning. He is bringing them into relationship with himself. He is bringing them to Mt. Sinai to teach them his ways. They are almost there.

God chose an unlikely candidate to be his tool to set his people free. Moses rose up to defend his people, but was rejected and exiled for forty years. There he was given a Midianite wife, became a shepherd, and had sons. When he was on the back side of the desert, God interrupted him and called him to ‘set my people free’. He reluctantly returned to Egypt, but not before God showed him how deadly serious a thing it is to have his own house in order and obey God’s commands. God confronted him over his negligence of the covenant sign of circumcision in his family.

Now, God has triumphed over the gods of the Egyptians, Moses has led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the midst of the Red Sea, they have seen God’s gracious and miraculous provision in the wilderness, they have seen that God will give them victory over their enemies. Israel is encamped at the Mountain of God.

We now see Moses’ family reunited, we see Gentiles entering into worship of the God of Israel, and the establishment of a leadership structure that spreads the burden of responsibility among godly men.

Jethro

Exodus 18:1 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.

Midianites

The Midianites were historically no friend of Israel. It was Midianite traders who sold Joseph as a slave in Egypt (Gen.37:28,36). The Midianites would conspire with the Moabites to hire Balaam to curse Israel (Num.22:7ff). The intermarrying of Israel with Midian with the consequent worship of Baal incited the LORD to wrath (Num.25). But in this passage, we see a Midianite priest converted to the true worship of YHWH.

This is amazing in light of the context. We have just seen another branch of Abraham’s family (Gen.25:2), the Amalekites, war against God’s people and be defeated by God’s power. Even God’s own people have been so far grumbling and complaining, putting the LORD to the test. They have not shown a great deal of faith in their deliverer. This priest of Midian, it says ‘heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. (18:1)’ God’s own people seem to continually be blaming Moses for leading them out to die rather than praising God for bringing them out of slavery. This Midianite priest seems to be one of the first to get it.

God-Centered Witness

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.”

Listen to what Moses tells his father-in-law. “Dad, you should have been there. The Pharaoh of Egypt was terrified every time I showed up. Remember when you sent me out in the desert with your sheep? You had no idea what I was capable of. I raised my staff, and you should have seen it! All Egypt was in mayhem. They were begging us to leave. All these people are following me, they’re looking to me for leadership. Can you believe it? I struck the rock with my staff and water came out!” No, Moses doesn’t draw attention to himself. He points to the LORD. He told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done. The LORD did this! This was a God-centered witness. And he didn’t edit out the struggles either. He told him about ‘all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them.’ We’ve had some rocky times. No food, poisoned water, no water, grumbling people, enemies attacking, The LORD delivered us. We would have had no hope unless God had intervened. He gave all credit to God. This is a faithful witness. This is a real testimony. It’s not about me. It’s all about God. Look at what God has done!

Joyful Believing

Jethro’s response is joy. He rejoiced. He recognized the goodness of God in all of this. Jethro, priest of Midian, does not use the generic title of deity, he does not name the god of the Midianites, he does not assume that his god and Israel’s God are the same. He uses God’s revealed covenant name in distinction from all other pagan gods. The LORD – YHWH is good! This is the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel’s God, the great I AM. Jethro has heard all that God did for his people Israel. He heard that YHWH had brought them out of Egypt. He rejoiced for all the good that YHWH had done for Israel in that he delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. He blesses YHWH: “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.” Jethro knew his son-in-law Moses was in trouble with Egypt. It was evident that something supernatural happened to preserve Moses’ life from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, and seeing that the 400 years of slavery for the Hebrew people in Egypt had been sovereignly ended stirred his heart to worship this God of the Hebrews.

We are seeing the beginnings of a fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham.

Genesis 22:18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

God had declared:

Exodus 6:7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Exodus 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Now, a Midianite priest is converted to worship the one true God. He says:

11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”

He had seen the evidence, and he was convinced. He worshiped.

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.

What an amazing scene! Jew and Gentile together worshiping the one true God, breaking bread together in the presence of God!

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.

In heaven they sing this about the Lamb:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Revelation 15:4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

This is what Jesus commanded that we do:

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

God has from the beginning intended to bring some from every nation together in worship of the one true God.

Moses The Judge

The next scene is a scene of Moses carrying out his responsibilities as leader of the people God has entrusted to his care.

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.”

Moses is filling the role of teacher/counselor/arbiter of disputes. He is teaching the people God’s standards, settling disputes and making peace, and seeking God’s direction for the people. All these things are good and necessary and important. But Jethro sees a problem in the system. This is an insurmountable task for one man. Justice delayed is no justice. He offers some advice.

Burdens of Leadership Shared

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.”

Jethro’s instruction is for Moses to continue in the role of teacher and intercessor. He is to take their cases before God and seek God’s direction. He is to fulfill the role of teacher, communicating God’s truth to God’s people. He is to warn and make them know the way in which them must walk, to help them understand their relationship with God, and what their responsibilities are. But he is to choose able men to come along side him and share the load of leadership. These men are to have specific qualities. They are to be men of character. First on the list is a fear of God. Their relationship with God must be healthy. They must have proper awe and respect for the Most High. They must be God-fearers and not men-pleasers. They must be trustworthy, reliable, faithful men. They are to be men who cannot be bought. Men of character are to be chosen to share the counseling/arbitrating responsibilities.

The picture we have here illustrates the problem. God’s law has not yet been codified. All the people are coming to Moses with their questions and grievances. They wait in line all day and get no answers.

They go home discouraged and frustrated. Everyone has to go through this one man who goes to God to get their answers.

According to Jethro’s advice, the majority of cases would be settled at the local level, with only the difficult or new issues being brought to Moses. This will serve to alleviate the backlog of cases so that justice can be served in a timely manner, and frees Moses up to focus on his primary leadership responsibilities. Jethro’s advice is given not just as good practical common sense, but as guidance from God.

Moses’ Humble Response

Moses responds as any good leader today would. “Don’t you know who I am? God chose me to lead his people. Who do you think you are to give me advice in my job anyway? It was my staff that brought the plagues and parted the Red Sea and brought water from the rock. I spoke to God and he sent manna. I’m the one who intercedes with God for all the people. Don’t you think if God wanted me to do things differently, he would have told me himself?” No, again, Moses lays aside his natural pride and demonstrates amazing humility.

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.

Moses listened. Moses obeyed the instruction from his father-in-law. He was wise enough to take advice, no matter the source.

There are some interesting connections between this chapter and the one before. In both, foreigners come to Israel; the Amalekites came to attack; the Midianites came to greet. In both, some men are chosen for a specific task – to fight or to judge. In both, Moses takes a seat on the second day and remains seated for the entire day. In both, Moses is said to be tired or weary, and is provided assistance by others. In both, Moses humbly and willingly receives help from others. He knows his own weakness and is vulnerable. Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

In the New Testament, we are told:

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

We are in humility to consider others as more significant than ourselves. More significant! That is contrary to every natural instinct we have. This kind of humility takes gospel transformation to carry out. This takes crucifixion of self to put others first.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. This is against our inclination, but we are now equipped to fight the fight against our flesh. We now have God’s law written on our hearts (Jer.31:33). We have God’s Spirit in us to cause us to walk in his ways (Ezek.36:27). There is now one mediator between God and men; the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim.2:5). Every good gift comes from above, so whatever I have that is praiseworthy, the one who is worthy of praise is my Lord Jesus Christ, not me. Look at what the LORD has done for our sake. Rejoice in all the good that the LORD has done to us. Bless the LORD for delivering us from the domain of darkness and transferring us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Col.1:13).  

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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May 15, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , ,

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