Exodus Chapter 18

The children of Israel are near the beginning of the 40-year journey in the wilderness. They have already been greatly blessed by the hand of the Lord as they have traveled. Moses is their prophet and chosen leader by the Lord. The story of their wanderings continues as follows:

1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt;
2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,
3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:
4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:
5 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:
6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.

Jethro heard of the miracles that had been had for Moses and the Israelites. When he heard these things, he took his own journey to meet up with Moses. He brought with him, his daughter, Zipporah, and grandsons, Gershom and Eliezer, who were the family of Moses.

7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
8 And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them.
9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.

Moses and Jethro told one another all that had happened while they were apart. Jethro was grateful to the Lord, for the ways in which the Lord had delivered Moses and his people. This seems to have been a testimony building story for Jethro. Jethro made a sacrifice to the Lord. Then the leaders of the people were gathered together to eat with Jethro.

13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

This was a huge group of people, numbering around 600,000 men alone. Moses, as their leader, assumed the judgment seat for the people. All day long, Moses would listen to people. Jethro noticed that Moses did this alone all day. When he asked Moses why he did this, Moses told him that the people came to him to inquire, or ask, of the Lord. Mostly these things had to do with issues that came up between different people, but I imagine they took many more things to him as well. This was probably how the laws of God were established for the Israelites at this time. Jethro taught Moses a lesson here, that he was going to burn out. I can’t even imagine dealing with that many people, knowing how hard it can be to just deal with my own family. I am sure the weight was immense. The task of being a judge for the people was too difficult for one man alone. Jethro, who understood the role of priesthood leadership because he was a high priest himself, told Moses to call able men to be leaders over smaller groups of his people. This way, the smaller issues were handled in smaller number, and Moses only had to take care of those issues that applied to much larger issues. This pattern is the way that the Lord has always established his church, and I know there is great wisdom in it. Today in the church, we have the prophet and president, who presides over the whole church, but could not handle all the issues of all the members of the church. Instead, we have bishops and branch presidents over our smaller areas and each of them have priesthood leaders over them, such as stake presidents and area leaders. This is the patter and design of God. I believe that this is an eternal principle, which we will find in place in the kingdom of God.

This makes me think of one of the many blessings that we have now, to know of personal revelation. Throughout the history of the gospel, many have gone to their priesthood leaders for communication with God. We know now that we do not have to take all of our questions or problems to our leaders, but we can ask God ourselves and receive personal revelation for many of the things that we face in our lives, even when they have to do with others or our sins. There are issues that if we cannot handle them on our own, we then turn to our bishops, branch presidents, or stake presidents. Because of the established lines of communication with God, and these worthy and capable men of the priesthood, the prophet and other general authorities can handle the important issues that encompass the church as a whole.

27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

Once he had helped Moses to establish the way judgement would work with the Israelites, Jethro left to return to his own land and his own people. This, to me, is a great example of following the counsel of our parents and priesthood leaders. When our priesthood leaders or our parents are living righteously, they are entitled to receive inspiration to help us. Moses wasn’t particularly looking for help with his situation, but his father-in-law saw that he and his people would suffer if he continued to do things that way, and so he gave wise counsel which I believe was inspired by God. I am grateful for the wise counsel that I have received in my own life and very glad that when others have lived in a way that they have been able to gain inspiration on my behalf.

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