Exodus Day Forty-One
August 26, 2020, 4:11 AM

Bearing the Burden
Exodus 18:13-18

Moses sat to judge the people,
and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening.
When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said,
“What is this that you are doing for the people?
Why do you sit alone,
and all the people stand around you
from morning till evening?”
And Moses said to his father-in-law,
“Because the people come to me to inquire of God;
when they have a dispute, they come to me
and I decide between one person and another,
and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.”
Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.
You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out,
for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.

A lesson today in “doing church.” The father-in-law of Moses, Jethro, has come for visit. Ostensibly, to bring his wife and sons back into the camp. No reason is given in Scripture as to why they left in the first place. Jethro observes the routine of Moses in his long hours of laboring among the people: Teaching the laws and statutes of God; teaching the way in which they must walk and what they must do (18:20-21).

Interestingly, this is an example of dischronology. Big word. Just means this episode has been placed here in the narrative but occurred some other time. I touched on the meaning of the Jethro story in Monday’s blog, regarding its juxtaposition to the Amalekite battle. There is the reference here to laws and statutes that they didn’t have in this detailed of instruction– until they arrived at Sinai. This meeting with Jethro, and the reunion with his family, must have taken place at this pivotal time on the slopes of the Mountain of God, as they prepared for what would be, a longer-than-expected journey.

In the aftermath of receiving instruction from God, Moses assumes the burden of the formation of a people for God. Jethro understands that this is not a wise course. He advises Moses to look for men who are able, trustworthy, and most of all, fear God. These will become leaders over the thousands , hundreds, fifties and tens. In other words, “They will bear the burden with you.” Jethro says further, “If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace” (18:22-23).

In Jewish memory, there has arisen no prophet greater than Moses. And yet, Moses needed assistance. Perhaps this is one of the take-away lessons from the battle with the Amalekites, where Aaron and Hur must support his tired arms. When Jesus comes, he will call his twelve disciples. There are several women, like Lydia and Priscilla, mentioned throughout the Gospels who provide for Jesus and the apostles out of their own means. Their support makes the mission possible. And don’t forget, when Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy, make the missionary journeys, they go from place to place installing a multiplicity of elders to steward the churches they plant.

This is why you often hear that Church is not a spectator sport. Church is not supposed to be passive theater. Church is not a country club, where members expect to receive certain services. Everyone in the Church serves one another, and in this way, serve the Lord Jesus and love God. Church literally means a called out people. A group of people called and skilled and placed in vital roles in the Body of Christ. In this way, we all bear the burden together of being the Church of Jesus Christ in the world. We demonstrate the workings of the Kingdom of God. Together.

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