After the Amalekites fled the scene and the Israelites settled back down in their tents, at the foot of the mountain, Moses’ father-in-law showed up bringing his family with him, that is Moses’ wife and sons. Before any kind of national organization could be put into place, YHVH was about to have His appointed leader attend to his own family. Obviously this is one of the most important issues in a budding nation. Without the families being set under the divine order of the Kingdom of Elohim, the nation, which YHVH is forming will be devoid of a strong foundation. “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of His body; and He is the Savior of the body… Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved His body and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:23-25). The expression of true love is not compatible with hierarchal governance, as love under-girds and does not overlord; its gives life and does not take it; love serves and is not served. Love cares for and supports the family.
Hidden in Moses’ sons’ names was a message for Moses himself. ”Gershom (for he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a foreign land’) and… “Eliezer (for he said, ‘the Elohim of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh’)” (Exodus 18:3-4). When Moses faced his children once again, he had to recall the help and deliverance that he had been granted by the Almighty. Additionally, the restoration or reunification of that family served as a reminder to the people that, they too had been strangers in a foreign land and had been delivered from the same (above-mentioned) sword.
As the house of Joseph in this generation, we too are included in the company of Peter’s addressees, whom he defines as ‘paraepidemous’-aliens-strangers in the nations of our residence, living alongside the local or native non-Israelite people. YHVH has been reminding the wanderers all along the way what His mighty right arm has done for them/us. So for an extra boost a Midianite priest comes to them, rejoicing over the goodness of YHVH in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians (Exodus 18:9). It seems that the Midianites were not the only ones that were impacted by Israel’s miraculous rescue and salvation. Some of the other nations living in the vicinity heard and were filled with fear, just as was prophesied in the Song: “Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, till Your people pass over, O YHVH, till the people pass over whom You have purchased” (Exodus 15:16).
Are we aware that our spiritual deliverance has also had the same effect on the rulers and principalities of this age? When Yeshua was here in flesh and blood the demons recognized him, shuttered and even pleaded with him not to torment them. Now that He is in us and we are in Him, how is it that those same spiritual entities are not just as afraid of our presence? Or are they? Perhaps we are underestimating the results of the ‘finished work’!
Returning to our historical account – Moses’ father-in-law witnessed his daughter’s husband judging disputes in the Israelite camp from morning till night, with hundreds of people standing around waiting to hear the verdicts and decisions that pertained to their grievances. This would have taken Moses, who was heading for a ‘burn out’, away from his newly reunited family. All this made Jethro very concerned. Moses was so busy with this work that, quite likely he did not have time to seek YHVH for wisdom as to solutions for the daily dilemmas that faced him. YHVH’s intervention took the form of a Midianite priest who stepped in, and suggested that the arbitrator needed to share the responsibilities by selecting or vetting men with certain qualifications who would come to his assistance. While not taking away from the kingship and rule of the Elohim of Israel, Jethro proposed the following regarding these potential officers:
"And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. [This is foundational; otherwise the people would do what was right in their own eyes.] Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear Elohim, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them [the people] to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and Elohim so commands you, then you [Moses] will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace" (Exodus 18:20-23 emphases added). Please notice that, subject to Elohim’s command (quoting Jethro’s above-cited words), the potential officers were not to lord it over the people, but were to teach them the statutes, laws, and ordinances or right rulings for civil order in the families, communities and tribes of the nation. These laws were a pre-cursor to the Torah that Israel was about to receive shortly from YHVH.
Moses never once protested or challenged Jethro’s advice. On the contrary, he proceeded to do as he was told. Did Moses ‘know in his spirit’ that it was YHVH’s voice speaking through a Midianite priest? Did he feel ‘deep down’ that it was time that Israel became somewhat more organized, and did the reasons postulated by Jethro make so much sense that it did not for one minute raise the thought, one that nowadays is commonplace in parallel situations: ‘This could be the work of the flesh, and not of the spirit, but perhaps after I pray about it I’ll know more’. Also, did Moses know that he and the people he was leading needed in some way to respond to the Elohim who did so much for them, and take a pro-active stance? Was this somehow a prerequisite to the giving of the Torah and the enactment of the eternal Covenant with Israel?
Even before the great ‘Torah and Covenant event’, some of the laws were already active. Paul infers to this principle: “…for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of Elohim, but the doers of the law will be justified; [citing as an example] for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness” (Romans 2:13-15).
Referring back to the above-raised questions and to the dynamics described, it may be worth our while to examine their application to the situations and condition that we are in, during this interim and indefinite time period of our wilderness sojourn. Once again, the beginning of structure forming, delegation of administrative responsibilities, by way of it also being a pro-active response denoting willing participation on the part of the various members of the Israelite community, may all be useful examples for us to consider. This being especially so, when highlighted by the fact that all this took place just prior to one of the most significant events in the life of the People of Israel. YHVH seems to have taken favorably to this development, in spite of the fact that in Exodus chapter 18 there is no mention of “thus said YHVH”.