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DCLM Search The Scripture 12 March 2023: Jethro Counsels Moses


Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 12 March 2023 (Lesson 53)

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TOPIC: Jethro Counsels Moses (STS 12 March 2023)

MEMORY VERSE: 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 (Exodus 18:21)

TEXT: Exodus 18:1-27 (KJV)

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.

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.

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.

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


The importance of counselling as a ministry cannot be overstressed. Counsels can be good or evil he importance of counselling as a ministry cannot depending on its nature and the motive of the giver. The Bible encourages good counsel like the one given by Jethro in our text. His recommendation brought peace and progress to the ministry of Moses.

However, wrong counsels, like the one given by Ahitophel and designed to destroy David, are ungodly, devilish and should be avoided by the people of God (2 Samuel 17:1-4). The Scripture further stressed that, ”Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Every Christian needs godly counsels to live a successful spiritual and secular life. However, we must be careful of whom we take counsels. Because the thoughts of unbeliever are not right, their counsels are not likely to be right but deceitful.

Therefore, we must refrain from seeking advice from them when we get to crossroads in life. Moreover, we should not allow pride hinder us from getting counsels from our leaders in the church because, without counsels, purposes are disappointed (Proverbs 15:22; 20:18).This study focuses on the importance of godly counsels to Christian living and ministry as it examines Jethro’s counsel to Moses.

REUNION AND RECONCILIATION OF MOSES WITH HIS FAMILY (Exodus 18:1-12;2:16;4:25,26;Numbers 12:1; Psalm 78:12-16; Exodus 15:1-11;1 Corinthians 7:10-15)

Jethro response to the good news of what God had done to Moses and for Israel is very instructive. One, he came to rejoice with them when he heard of the testimonies of God’s dealing with israel and blessed the Lord”…who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians”. God must take the glory for His marvelous doings; no mortal should share in it. Two, Jethro was encouraged and his faith in the Lord was strengthened. “Now know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them” (Exodus 18:11). Three, he offered burnt offering and sacrifices to God and held fellowship with the elders of Israel (Exodus 18:12). The people of God should take time out to offer a sacrifices and freewill offering to appreciate His doings among them.

The visit of Jethro was an opportunity for him to reunite and reconcile Moses with his wife after the disagreement they had because of the circumcision of their son. “Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision’ (Exodus 4:25,26). Here, Jethro played the role of peacemaker as Jesus admonished in the Scriptures (Matthew 5:9). Though his relationship with Moses as father-in-law was mentioned twelve times in our text, he did not take sides with his daughter concerning the conflict between the couples.

This teaches that parents whose children are married should be scriptural in their relationship with them. Also believers should naturally be peacemaker. We should resolve differences between us and other people at all times. God will not accept our gift, service or worship if we nurse grudges against anyone. “Therefore if thou bring thy bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23,24). Where possible, we should make efforts to reunite disputing or quarrelling, families or brethren within the church or our fellowship group.

RECOGNITION O F MOSES’ COMMITMENT AND JETHRO’S COUNSEL (Exodus 18:13-23;Romans 13:1-3; Proverbs 11:14; 1 Kings 12:1-14; Joshua 9:14)

Jethro’s visit to Moses was purposeful and profitable; it added value to the life and ministry of Moses and the congregation. Though not an Israelite, Jethro exhibited a good quality that should be found in all Christian leaders. He demonstrated the ability to perceive and discern the state and condition of subordinates while on active service. While it is to be good to be committed to ministry like Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Paul and the other apostles, leaders should learn to be observant of the streak of their activities and review them regularly with wisdom and dependence on the Holy Spirit. The purpose is to prevent moving in a circle, where one does much activity but makes little or no progress.

This was what informed Jethro’s counsel. He said: “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: And let them judge the people all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring lnto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee” (Exodus 18:21,22). Jethro did not take the place of God in his counselling thus, he was quick to add, “God shall be with thee” and “If thou shall do this thing, and God command thee so…”Counsellors who rule out God, His sovereignty ando word should be avoided. Counselling that robs us of dependence on God in prayer and deprives us of seeking the light of His word will cause us to err from the path of life and godliness.

Counsellors, therefore, must be subject to God’s word and will, and depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance. In Jethro counsel, we also see the preeminence of the teaching ministry: “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” (Exodus 18:20). In addition, his counsel includes some qualities that should characterise those who occupy leadership positions in the house of God. They must be able men and women who “fear God’’ “men of truth, hating covetousness…”Apostle Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 3:1-7;Titus 1:5-9) set out the qualifications of leaders in the New Testament church.

They include people who are blameless, married only to one wife, vigilant, sober, well behaved, hospitable, teachable, not given to wine, not greedy, patient, not covetous, rule their homes well, not a novice, have a good report of outsiders, etc. In Jethro counsel eventually brought about the appointment of new assistants to Moses and the decentralisation of the work for easy leadership. This shows that systems run more effectively when they are administered at different levels of authority. Besides, there is a sense of belonging when responsibilities are given to others. They are able to exercise their gifts. Moreover, new and potential gifts are discovered and developed.

REALISATION OF JETHRO’S WISE COUNSEL (Exodus 18:24-27; Numbers 11:25-29;Acts 14:23;1 Timothy 3:1-3;Luke 6:12-16;Acts 13:1-3)

After being guided, Moses took the counsel to God for approval. No matter how reasonable a counsel may be, we cannot safely run with it unless God demands that we subject every counsel we receive to prayers and word of God (Isaiah 8:20). Moses, having been cleared by God to go ahead with the advice he had received, did not let ego get in his way but carried out the instruction. Those who counsel others should lean from Jethro that God is the highest counsellor Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? (Isaiah 40:13). He does not need anyone to advise Him concerning any of His works, either of creation or the government of the world; and He has the prerogative to overrule any counsel we give. Jethro did not impose his counsel on Moses because he recognised the overruling power of God.

We must detest the attitude of Ahitophel who stopped so low to commit suicide because his counsel was rejected (2 Samuel 17:23),We must not quit the work of God or desert the assembly of the saints simply because the counsel we have given, which we perceive to be the best, was not followed. After we have offered counsel, we must learn to submit to the decision of leadership, who are led by the spirit of God. On one hand, some counsels can be ungodly, like the counsel of Balaam to Balak (Numbers 31:15,16; Revelation 2:14), Jonadab to Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-14), the peer group to Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:9-11) and Jeroboam to the Northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:28-33).

Such counsels must be rejected outright and the evil counsellors exposed. On the other hand, some counsels may appear good and potentially profitable but may not be God’s choice for us. Prophet Nathan counselled David to go ahead and build the house of God without consulting the Lord who eventually overturned the prophet’s advice (1 Chronicles 17:1-4). We need prayer and wisdom to make the right decisions on the counsels we receive from others. Finally, we must be careful not to ignore godly counsels. The likes of Nebuchadnezzar(Daniel 4:27,28), Pilate(Matthew 27:19,24) and the Council (Acts 5:27-35) all received good counsels but failed to make the right decisions and the consequence were grave. Those who ignore the calling and counsel of God should know that it is to their peril (Proverbs 1:24-33).

Jethro went back to Midian after a short stay with Moses, whose visit impacted positively on his ministry and the entire nation of Israel. The challenge for us today is to ensure that our visitations and counsels result in mutual edification and spiritual renewal; not to gossip, slander, backbite or conspire to pull down other people. The counsels we give and our conversation must mark us out as true believers and point and point unbelievers to Calvary.

Question for review:

  1. What should be our responses to God’s marvelous doings among His people?.
  2. Why is counselling important to a child of God?
  3. Why is it important for a Christian to reconcile with people before offering his/her service to God?
  4. What prompted Jethro to counsel Moses?
  5. What can church leaders and Christians learn from Jethro’s counsel on the appointment of leaders?
  6. Identify five qualities of a leader.
  7. Why should we subject every counsel to the acid test of God’s word and prayer?

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