Jethro’s Counsel To Moses


Exodus 18

A. Jethro and Moses meet.

1. Moses meets with Jethro, his father in law, in the desert of Midian, Exodus 18:1-6.

a. Moses is reunited with his wife Zipporah and his two sons Gershon and Eliezer, apparently Moses had sent his family back to Midian at some time, perhaps during the plagues of Egypt.

b. Moses had a special relationship with Jethro, though he had been raised in all the wisdom and education of Egypt, Moses no doubt learned more about real leadership from the priest and shepherd Jethro, whose flocks Moses tended until his call at Sinai.

2. Jethro glorifies God when Moses reports what the Lord has done, Exodus 18:7-12.

a. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, it is possible Jethro knew this before, he was the priest of Midian. Exodus 18:1. But hearing of God’s great works over the gods of Egypt brings this truth more clearly than before.

B. Jethro’s advice to Moses.

1. Jethro observes Moses as he settles disputes among the children of Israel, Exodus 18:13-16.

a. Moses, because he knew the statutes of God and His laws, was fit to settle disputes among the children of Israel, but taking all this responsibility to himself was a massive burden.

2. Jethro advises Moses to delegate the job of settling disputes, Exodus 18:17-23.

a. ‘The thing that you do is not good’. The problem was simply that the job was too big for Moses to do, his energies were being spent unwisely. Moses must delegate, even as in Acts 6, the apostles insisted they needed to delegate so they would not leave the word of God and serve tables, Acts 6:2-4.

ii. Much to Moses’ credit, he is teachable, when Jethro says the thing that you do is not good, he listens to Jethro. Moses knew how to not bow to the complaints of the children of Israel, Exodus 17:3, but how to hear the godly counsel from a man like Jethro.

b. For Moses to effectively delegate, he must first stand before God for the people, that is, he must pray for the people delegation will not work if the blessing of God is not upon it.

c. For Moses to effectively delegate, he must teach them the statutes and the laws, that is, he must educate not only those who will hear the disputes but also those who might dispute in God’s Word.

i. If the people knew God’s Word for themselves, many disputes could be settled immediately. Also, if the people knew God’s Word for themselves, they would not be discouraged if they could not bring their case to Moses himself, they would know one of Moses’ delegates could give them counsel from God’s wisdom.

d. For Moses to effectively delegate, he must next select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth. Delegation fails if the job is not put into the hands of able, godly men.

i. Not just anyone was fit for this job, Moses needed.

Men of ability, able men. Men of godliness, such as fear God. Men of God’s Word, men of truth. Men of honour, hating covetousness.

ii. Paul gave the same counsel to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.

e. For Moses to effectively delegate, he must still have oversight and leadership over those under him, every great matter they shall bring to you. Delegation is the exercise of leadership, not the abandoning of it.

f. If Moses effectively delegates, the result will be a blessing for all you will be able to endure, Moses will be able to do his job better than ever, and all these people will also go their place in peace, the people will be effectively ministered to.

i. This method also had the advantage of settling problems quickly, people didn’t need to wait in line for Moses.

‘The longer a controversy lasts, the worse the tangle becomes, the more hot words are spoken, the more bystanders become involved.’ Meyer

Jesus said we should agree with our adversary quickly.

3. Moses follows Jethro’s suggestions, Jethro departs, Exodus 18:21-27.

a. Moses wisely followed Jethro’s counsel.

‘It is better to set a hundred men to work than to do the work of a hundred men.’ D L Moody

b. ln Moses’ method of administration, some had a higher position than others, but only in the eyes of men God honoured the faithful service of the man over tens as much as the service of the man over thousands.