Introduction: There is nothing more refreshing for Moses or for us than corporate worship and fellowship with like-minded believers. Amazingly in this week’s notes, it is the Midianite Jethro who leads Moses in such worship (Ex. 18). Jethro is a symbol for Moses’ encouragment. God wants Moses to know that not all Gentiles respond to the LORD with the hatred of Amalek. Jethro is a trophy of God’s saving mercy. May our faith be strengthened to believe that He can bring other ‘Jethro’s’ into our lives by rescuing unsaved relatives and neighbors and bringing them to His Throne of Grace.
Monday: read Exodus 2:15-22 and 18:1-5. God calls Moses’ family to come to him at the ‘mountain of God’ in Exodus 18:5. Though Jethro himself was a ‘priest of Midian’ as Exodus 2:16 points out, he must submit to the spiritual leadership of God’s prophet Moses and offer worship at the place which God appoints. In other words, Jethro recognizes that it is to “the mountain of God” that he must go to offer worship. Just as the LORD commanded Moses to come to that mountain after the deliverance from Egypt in Exodus 3:12, so Jethro must obey the same command and come to Mt. Sinai.
Meditate and Pray: Oh for the LORD to pour out in our day a hunger for true worship on the part of seekers like Jethro. Let us reaffirm our longing for that same work of God’s Spirit to come true in our day that took place in Jethro’s. May the prophecy of Zechariah 8:22-23 be true in our day so that the nations flock to the church as the body of Christ, the true Israel of God:
And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him. This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”
Tues/Weds: read Exodus 2:15-22; 3:1 and 18:5-11. Who exactly was this priest of Midian whose hunger for real fellowship with God had a such a blessed effect in reuniting Moses with his family in Exodus 18:5? Moses calls him “Reuel”, meaning “friend of El” (Ex. 2:18). The name “Reuel” here means that he was a priest of the God “El”. Was this the ancient Semitic God “El”? Did Jethro at first serve a pagan deity? Did Moses’ sister and brother later object to Moses’ wife in part because of this questionable religious background? See Numbers 12:1. (If indeed Moses’ wife Zipporah was the same person as the “Cushite” wife referred to in Numbers 12 – perhaps called a “Cushite” because the nomadic Midianites may have moved back and forth to Cush in Africa. We don’t know.)
What matters most in the end is that we see evidence of true faith as Jethro delights in all that the LORD did to save His people and confesses in Exodus 18:11:
“Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for He did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly” (Exodus 18:11).
Reflection: That’s the spirit, Jethro! It doesn’t matter where you start your life as the “Priest of El”! God brought you to Himself and restored the wasted years of darkness and ignorance! Forgetting what lies behind in our sinful pasts and living in the present blessing of saving grace – this is what we are to do by faith! May God grant us to live this way. How is it that Martyn Lloyd Jones put it?
In the Kingdom of God and of Christ the standpoint is that of grace, and of grace alone; and it cuts across all other regulations. It is His grace that matters – ‘by the grace of God I am what I am’ (1 Corinthians 15:10). So stop looking at what you have not done and the years you have missed and realize that in His Kingdom it is His grace alone that matters.
Thurs/Fri: read Exodus 4:18, 24-26 and 18:5-11. In order to fully appreciate the joy of salvation which Jethro shares with Moses in Exodus 18:9-11, we must appreciate the darkness from which God delivered Jethro and his whole family. The possibilities for impure religion in Jethro’s family are sobering. Calvin describes the kind of worship which may have occurred:
After duly weighing all these points, nothing occurs to me as more probable, than that under the priesthood of Jethro the true God was worshipped, according as tradition had revealed Him, but not purely; because religion was at that time everywhere contaminated by diverse superstitions.
What do you think? It must also be said that we don’t have to go far to see evidence of such impurity. In Exodus 4:24-26 Moses’ wife takes action to save Moses’ life by quickly circumcising her son. Hundreds of years earlier, God had told Abraham that the uncircumcised covenant child “must be cut off” from the people of God. So, praise God for Zipporah’s quick response to Moses’ deadly encounter with God – saving both father and son: especially Moses, who was under the wrath of God for failing to circumcise!
Yet not all the blame lies with him. It is clear that all is not well between husband and wife. Zipporah appears to treat this holy rite with contempt in some translations of Exodus 4:25: “throwing the foreskin at Moses’ feet” and calling him her “bloody husband”! She appears to greatly resent Moses for having to “purchase him afresh” as her husband at the price of the blood of her son. Perhaps it was her abhorrence towards the rite which had prevented Moses from circumcising this son in the first place.
How sad, in conclusion, that it may have been this conflict over circumcision which led to Moses’ decision to leave his wife and children in the care of Jethro his father-in-law, not reuniting with them until he led Israel to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 18.
Meditate and Pray: How sore our sins are! How we can hurt others by our anger, selfishness and prejudice! Lord, deliver our families from longing standing conflicts and resentments. We all deserve to die at your hands. But what of the little ones? For the sake of the next generation of covenant children, please bless our homes and marriage with more peace and grace than we deserve or imagine to be possible! In the Name of our Elder Brother Jesus, Amen.
Sat/Sun: Given the dark trouble in Moses’ own home, let us thank God for the reunion between Moses and his family in Exodus 18. No wonder Moses is moved to such an outpouring of joy and gratitude to the LORD for all the snares and trials from which the LORD has delivered him and his family! Moreover, Jethro’s joy is proof that God has transformed Moses’ family as well. Surely father Jethro and wife Zipporah would join in confessing their faith in Moses’ God! What a restoration. Use this poem of John Donne as your prayer for God’s restoring grace in your life – even until the very end when you go to meet the LORD:
Will you forgive that sin by which I have won others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Will you forgive that sin which I did shun a year or two, but wallow’d in, a score?
When you have done, you have not done,
For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun my last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by yourself, that at my death your Son shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, you have done;
I fear no more.