There comes in the life of all individuals a time to reflect on living; what the past has been like, what the present is, and what the future holds; and so it was with Moses and the Israelites. It is now three months since they left Egypt and they are now camped in front of Mount Sinai in the desert of Sinai <Ex.19:1>, and Moses’ father-in-law Jethro visits Moses, bringing Moses’ wife and children. Moses had apparently sent his wife and children to Jethro to let him know that they were camped at Sinai <Ex.18:1-5>. As the custom was, they sit in the Tent and exchange their greetings and recall the events of the past; “They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses 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.” <Ex.18:7-8 (NIV)>; Jethro was delighted to hear of all that God had done and praised God for all His goodness and mercy and confessed “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods” <Ex.18:11 (NIV)>. As they, and all individuals today, recognize God for who He is, lead to worship of God as Moses and Jethro offer sacrifices, we too need to offer our sacrifice of praise <Ex.18:12; Heb.13:15; Rom 12:1>. It is beneficial to reflect upon the past,
As Moses and Jethro contemplate the past, they must also look at the present, for the next day we see Moses taking his seat as judge for all the people, a job that took all day for he did this all by himself causing Jethro to comment and offer suggestions to simplify the process, for what he was doing and the way he was doing it was not the best for the people <Ex.18:13-19>. First, Moses should be aware of his position and what was required of him, “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” <Ex.18:19-20 (NIV)>. This is the equivalent to the office of Bishop or Elder in the Church today, for there has to be someone who is capable of teaching the people the doctrine of the Scriptures, and this is a responsible and important office in the Church and one that is accountable directly to God, for there are many today that introduce and teach false doctrine. This was expressed by Paul as he wrote his instructions to Titus <Titus 1:6-9>. Like Moses, today all Bishops or Elders are faced with similar difficulties in attempting to lead people who are rebellious and stiff-necked, refusing to be obedient to the commands of God. Jethro also makes another suggestion; “select capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain — and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times” <Ex.18:21-22 (NIV)>; then only the more difficult cases would be brought to Moses, making the job much easier and the people’s problems would be handled much faster. This is also the office of deacons in the church today and was introduced for the same reasons <see Acts 6:1-4>.
Now the future should also be contemplated. What would the coming days and years bring for Moses and all the people who were on this wilderness journey? It would all begin here at Sinai, for that was God’s purpose in bringing them to this encampment; here would begin another important lesson in wilderness journeys, as God gives Moses a thought for further contemplation: “’You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” <Ex.19:4-6 (NIV)>. God reminds them of all His goodness and mercy to them in the past, He now tells them what the future will bring for them and the condition that is attached. Full obedience to God’s covenant is required and they will be God’s treasured possession. God has done the same for us today; He has redeemed us from the condemnation of sin and the judgment that we were to face and made us His children <see Eph.2:4-5; 1 Pet.2:9-10>, and we, like the Israelites are called to be fully obedient to God’s commands. As a follower of Christ, we need to be conscious of this requirement, for although we will never loose our salvation, we will suffer the consequences of our disobedience to God’s commands.
Moses goes back to the people and delivers God’s message and they respond by saying “We will do everything the Lord has said.” <Ex.19:8 (NIV)>; little did they understand the difficulty they faced, and little do we understand the difficulty that we face today <see Rom.7:21-25>; the war with “Amalek” is a constant conflict and we face that battle on a daily basis!
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