“When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.”-Exodus 18: 14-15
Following the joyous reunion between Moses and his father-in law Jethro, the very next day we are told that Moses took his seat to serve as a judge for the people.
This was a logistical problem of nightmare proportions.
All of the people lined up and waited from morning to evening to bring their problems and disputes to Moses so he could advise them of God’s will on the matter.
Verse 15 makes it clear that in addition to being a legal advisor, Moses also acted as a spiritual counselor.
He was called to resolve relationship, family troubles and any other personal grievances the people may have been facing in their day-to-day living.
Jethro takes one look at the situation and immediately informs Moses this will not do.
While the typical view of this incident is that poor Moses was being overworked to the bone, Jethro’s primary concern was actually the welfare of the people who were being forced to wait for hours on end to get a hearing with Moses.
In order to lessen the burden, Jethro proposes the setting up of a government system consisting of lower and higher judges.
There were to be chiefs who supervised over groups of 1000’s, 100’s, 50’s, and 10’s.
The Hebrew for “chief” is SAR and it is actually a military term that could mean “commander” in modern English.
This makes sense because this neat, numerically divided judicial organization that Jethro suggested is actually very similar to the Greco-Roman system that would be instituted 1000 years from this time.
So what we have here is the transformation of what was once a ragtag mob of slaves into an organized society.
Having said that, keep in mind that while Moses readily accepted Jethro’s proposal and there didn’t appear to be any objection from the Lord, this organizational structure was still a human institution.
In this case, it was the PEOPLE who chose who they wanted to be their judges.
Knowing what we know about human nature and politics, I’m pretty sure there was some ugly inner fighting that occurred as the men vied for power and certain individuals were selected over others to assume the seats of power.
In contrast, we will later see that it will be God Himself who does the choosing when He sets up the sacrificial system and selects the Levites and the priests to be his set apart servants.
There are four spiritual takeaways I get from this incident.
First, just as the people did here, we are to take all our concerns to God.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re are dealing with a “legal” issue or a personal concern.
Are you fretting about your job?
Or are you worried about your relationship with your father (or mother)?
Bring it all to God in prayer and wait for Him to give you both supernatural wisdom and power to deal with whatever troubling issue you are facing.
Second, I find it interesting that credit for the establishment of Israel’s justice system here is openly given to a non-Hebrew.
What’s even more interesting is that this Jethro fellow is a Midianite, a people group whom God will order to be destroyed just a few years later.
Midian’s fate is going to end up like that of Amalek: a people group earmarked for destruction due to their ill-treatment of Israel.
However, on a positive note, what we learn from this is that not only can a gentile join Israel by pledging allegiance to Israel’s God, but they can even participate in God’s kingdom at the highest levels.
So indeed there be neither Jew nor gentile in the body of Messiah!
Third, we are reminded here that our God is one of order and structure, not chaos and coincidence.
It is through God’s laws, rules and structures that He shows us He can be counted on and trusted 100%.
God’s commands and promises do not change one day because He is in a bad mood.
This should be tremendously reassuring for us because the patterns & principles and methods & reasoning we are introduced to in the Torah are still in force today.
Our Father in heaven wants us to be reassured of this as we fast approach the end times.
We CAN rely on Him 100%.
Finally, after reading this I have renewed appreciation for the fact that in this day and age, we don’t have to stand in some line and wait all day to meet some mediator who will give us some Godly advice.
Through the Holy Spirit, we now have direct access to the eternal wisdom of our Father in Heaven.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN EXODUS CHAPTER NINETEEN