Playing on yesterday’s topic of God being our true Supreme Court, now I’m looking at how to be free from “big government” when it is run by mankind. It’s as simple as following Moses’ example of being more than just a hearer of the words taught to him by his mentor, but being a doer also. Our reading today from Exodus 18:24 through Exodus 18:27 is short enough that I’m going to just print it here.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
(iii) 24 Moshe paid attention to his father-in-law’s counsel and did everything he said.25 Moshe chose competent men from all Isra’el and made them heads over the people, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 As a general rule, they settled the people’s disputes — the difficult cases they brought to Moshe, but every simple matter they decided themselves.
27 Then Moshe let his father-in-law leave, and he went off to his own country.
We will find as we read along in the Torah that more and more rules are required for one reason only; that men refuse to govern themselves. Part of governing ourselves requires listening to others with more experience as Moses did to Jethro because he already had experience as a priest. It also includes accountability, which is what was happening when Moses assigned competent men to watch over the people and settle their general disputes. Knowing where we stand as to when we should direct ourselves, when we follow advice from a mentor, and in all ways how to glorify Our Creator in all we do should be our highest goal. Maturity and personal responsibility allows us to fail, as we humans tend to do so often that we need new mercy every morning, and yet to face our failures in light of God’s grace.
Just imagine if all the world did what was right just because it was right and not only because they might be caught doing what was wrong. Imagine people who understand that if something belongs to someone else, it’s not yours to touch, take, or damage. Imagine people who value human life and know it is God who gives us each breath. Imagine if all people would see true freedom as doing things God’s way instead of toward the selfish pleasures of the short-lasting flesh.
I don’t know what our bodies will be like other than like Christ’s perfected and glorious body, but I imagine that if the new Heaven and new Earth have life anything close to how we see it now with bodies and people, the world might line up to these things I listed above. I could see that as a perfect world even with flesh that messes up now and then because our failures so often allow us to see God as the Only One who is perfect. With Yahshua as our Government, we have some precious promises that can be found in Isaiah 9:6. Following the prophecy that a child would be born and the government would be on His shoulders, we have the remaining prophecy that His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
In other words, the blessing of our obedience to Him as our Governor is that we will see Him as wonderful, and we will have Him as our counselor, as our Mighty God, as our Everlasting Father, and as our Prince of Peace. Now that’s a big government I can live with.
There are two words that often make me feel frustrated when I hear them … fair and deserve. We read in Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:12 that because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. In other words, because people refuse to do things God’s way, the justice that God (as Love) brings to the human heart will be reduced. This means that it is because of sin that life is unfair, and people either get things they don’t deserve or don’t get things they do deserve. But for every person who cries out for fairness, there is an unfair moment on the cross where Our Savior took what He did not deserve, so that we would not receive what we did deserve. Trusting Him to recompense our afflictions is trusting in real justice.
In the meantime, we’re all still human, and we will all feel at times as if we have not been treated with justice in this life. In today’s reading from Exodus 18:13 through Exodus 18:23, we find Moses being called on to settle disputes, and we find so many people lining up to get his advice that people surrounded him from morning until evening. That’s a lot of work for one person, and Jethro notices the same thing. He asks Moses what is going on, and Moses explains that the people come to him for God’s guidance. He tells Jethro that when the people have a dispute, he judges between them and then explains God’s laws and teachings to them.
Jethro begins to explain that it’s not a good thing, and that Moses will wear himself out if he doesn’t learn to delegate. (Boy do I understand this part.) Jethro suggests that Moses should represent the people before God and bring their cases to Him. He adds that Moses should teach them God’s laws and show them how to live. But when it comes to judgment, Jethro tells Moses to choose men to govern the people in groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Whatever size group each leader should govern, these leaders should be competent, God-fearing, honest, and incorruptible.
Can you imagine if every person in a leadership position had to qualify with these characteristics? We have plenty in charge–of our country, our cities, our courts, our churches, and even our homes, that cannot qualify by even one of these characteristics, let alone all four. What a pleasant environment we would live in if all men and women in power were–at the least–honest. If they were also incorruptible, we could have a taste of fairness and equity. And if all were competent enough to make God and His word their true and supreme court, we could know real justice.
Jethro goes on to explain that if these leaders solve most of the disputes and only bring the difficult cases to him, Moses will have help with his heavy load, and life will be a bit easier for him. Jethro closes his advice-giving by telling Moses that if he does these things, and if God directs him to do these things, he (Moses) will be able to endure, and the people he is leading will make it to their destination peacefully.
Since I’m a bit like Moses in trying to do everything myself rather than delegating things to others, I can understand his need to hear this advice from Jethro. I’m certain they prayed for God to show them what leaders held the qualities that would make Moses able to trust them as his delegates of authority. I know that, even in the small scenario of my writer’s group, having officers and workers I can trust with group tasks brings us to a peaceful destination together. My helpers may never know just how much their work means to me, but from a leadership position, I can tell you it is priceless. If you are the type of person who works to help others, never judge your service by the size of the job but only by the sincerity of your motivations.
Word spreads fast these days with all the different ways we can communicate at the speed of fiber-optic light. But what about the “old” days? I mean, I thought we were pretty clever when we were kids and could talk through cups or cans with strings attached. (Or at least we thought we could.) When hubby and I watch one of our favorite older shows, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, I’m always amazed at how fast the bad guys hear about the payroll coming through on a Wells Fargo stage or rolling in on a train car. I was enthralled by the episode where they tracked a coming tornado/cyclone just by using telegraph.
But in today’s reading from Exodus 18:1 through Exodus 18:12, I don’t know how word spread as well as it did. Somehow, though, the word of what happened with Pharaoh and his armies spread across the desert to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. There was plenty of wine, so I’m sure there were grapevines, but I don’t think that’s how the word was carried. 😉 Still, the word spreading to Jethro is important enough that our full portion for the week, Parashah 17, is titled Yitro and is Hebrew for “Jethro.”
So Jethro hears about how God has delivered Israel and all He has done through Moses since Moses sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back home to Jethro. He brings the family to see Moses in the desert where he was camped at the mountain of God. He had already sent word to Moses saying, “I, Jethro, am coming to see you with your wife and two sons.”
Moses goes out to meet Jethro and prostrates himself before him then kisses him. After checking on each other’s welfare, they enter the tent, and Moses tells his father-in-law everything God has done for him and for Israel in delivering them from Pharaoh and from slavery in Egypt. In verses 10-11, Jethro says, “Blessed be Adonai, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that Adonai is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly.” And then Jethro brings a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aaron comes with the leaders of Israel to share the meal with Moses and Jethro.
I’m not absolutely certain what type of priest Jethro was since he said the “now I know” part. I’m thinking that if he was already a priest of Yahveh, he already would have known that Yahveh is greater than all other gods. Never-the-less, God has always been big on wanting His good news to be spread, and I rejoice that Jethro learned and declared the truth. I believe God wants His truth carried to others by any means possible; cups, cans, telegraph, telephone, and–mostly–“tell a friend.” That’s where you and I come in with our testimonies. God’s Word says in Acts 6:7 (NLT), “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”
Now, I’d love to see some comments telling me what kind of grapevine you heard the good news through. Also feel free to share your favorite way to minister God’s word to others. I’ll share mine in comments as well.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I used to love the Candid Camera show. I love seeing people’s reactions when something that should not talk suddenly has a voice. My grandfather has had a variety of talking toys throughout my life, and the talking skull was almost always good to make someone jump out of their seat. (Of course, the farting Indian–Chief Running Out of Water, since we lived in Arizona–was quite fun too.)
Anyway, of all the tricks, I don’t think anyone ever pulled off what Moses went through in today’s reading from Exodus 3:1 through Exodus 3:15. He was out tending sheep for his new father-in-law, Jethro, when he looked across the desert and noticed a bush burning. As he watched it, the bush did not burn up like he would’ve expected, so he decided to go check it out. Before he got up to it, a voice spoke from the midst of the burning bush telling him not to come any closer and to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.
I would hope I would’ve been barefoot and face down in an instant if that happened to me, but we don’t read what Moses did at that point. We do read that God continued to speak to him. He told him He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that He heard the pain of His people crying out to Him. And then He told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh so he could lead God’s people out of Egypt. Okay, if I was on my face, now I think I’d be standing up again, and I think I’d have a puzzled look on my face while I said, “Who, me?” with a giant question mark showing in my features.
Moses did say, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to lead the people out of Egypt?” And God told him that He would be with him and that the sign he was doing the right thing was that they would worship God right there on the mountain where he stood.
I guess Moses got the idea that he was going since the next thing he asked was who should he say sent him. God told him to say that I Am Who I Am had sent him and then went on to give Moses His actual memorial name. I’ve been using the name Yahveh in much of my writing, and I explained previously about the name and the Tetragrammaton, so I won’t repeat it, but I do want to include a video here by my favorite Christian parody band, ApologetiX. In this video, they use YHWH and Yahweh instead of YHVH and Yahveh, but that’s because of our Americanized alphabet where “v” and “w” were at one time interchangeable, so it really is the same thing. Of course, I think their song might have been easier to sing with the “v,” but it’s still enjoyable to watch them parody YMCA by The Village People, and the person who did the YouTube video included lyrics and some cute play-acting. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas Eve to everyone.
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