Monday, March 28, 2011

Exodus 18:13-27

13The next day, Moses sat as usual to hear the people's complaints against each other. They were lined up in front of him from morning till evening.

14When Moses' father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "Why are you trying to do all this alone? The people have been standing here all day to get your help."

15Moses replied, "Well, the people come to me to seek God's guidance. 16When an argument arises, I am the one who settles the case. I inform the people of God's decisions and teach them his laws and instructions."

17"This is not good!" his father-in-law exclaimed. 18"You're going to wear yourself out--and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people's representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided. 20You should tell them God's decisions, teach them God's laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives. 21But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace."

24Moses listened to his father-in-law's advice and followed his suggestions. 25He chose capable men from all over Israel and made them judges over the people. They were put in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 26These men were constantly available to administer justice. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but they judged the smaller matters themselves.

27Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.

Points of Interest:

· let me give you a word of advice’—Moses has entered a new phase of his hero’s journey now, or perhaps has begun a new adventure altogether. Moses has become an expert on getting Pharaoh to let the people go, but he’s pretty much a novice at leading the people now that they are free. Jethro serves as a mentor here, helping Moses prepare well for this new phase of his journey.

· You should continue to be the people's representative before God’—it’s obvious to Jethro as he watches that Moses cannot do everything he is trying to do himself. So, Jethro tries to help Moses prioritize. Serving as the liaison between God and the Israelites is something that Moses alone can do; so he should make sure he leaves himself enough room to fulfill that role effectively.

· find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes’—Jethro communicates two things to Moses here. First of all, he’s telling Moses that Moses doesn’t have to do everything himself; there are, in fact, people who are capable of doing some of the things Moses is currently doing himself. Secondly, he’s communicating to Moses that he needs to find the right people for the job. There are more people capable of responsibility than Moses is noticing, but that doesn’t mean there’s no need for qualified leadership.

· Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten’—Jethro proposes an appeals system, with Moses as the Supreme Court but several levels of court below him to take care of more basic cases.

Taking it home:

· For you: I’m sure that Moses feels a little frazzled in this passage: he’s working from dawn to dusk; at the end of the day he still has a long line of disappointed (and possibly demanding) people expecting to talk to him; and he probably doesn’t even get to the things he was hoping to do or expecting to do. Jethro helps Moses discover that at least some of his overwhelming busyness comes from the fact that he is spending too much time doing the wrong things. Have you been feeling frazzled recently? As you reflect on how you spend your time, are there things that are clearly taking too much time? What would it take to responsibly adjust what you are doing? Are there people who could be good partners to you?

· For your six: Jethro shows up in the right place at the right time to offer some much-needed help and wisdom to Moses. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to help your six.

· For our church: As you may have noticed if you’ve been around our church for any length of time, it takes a lot of work from a lot of people in order to fulfill the dreams we as a church have. Pray that we would become better and better at calling and equipping the right people for all of the right roles.