|INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDIES|
LESSON FOR JULY 10, 1994
God Gives Confidence
KEY VERSE: “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
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Exodus 18:13-15
JETHRO, THE FATHER-IN-LAW of Moses, heard all that God had done for Moses and Israel, his people, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. He went to visit Moses, now encamped in the wilderness near Mt. Sinai. Moses told Jethro about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake. He also described the hardships they had met along the way, and how God had saved them. Jethro was happy to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He 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 the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods.”—Exod. 18:10,11
The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people. They stood around him from morning till evening. As God’s representative leading the Israelites, Moses was responsible for the demanding task of administering judgment to his people. When Jethro noted the great numbers of people gathered around Moses from morning until night, seeking justice against their fellows and settling disputes between them, he said, “Why are you trying to do this all alone, with people standing here all day long to get your help?” Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to get God’s own decision in their cases. I decide between one man and another, and let them hear the rules and directions of God.”
His father-in-law exclaimed, You are not doing this right! You are going to wear yourself out. This job is too heavy a burden for you to try to handle alone. Listen to me and take my advice, and God will surely bless you. Certainly you must be the people’s representative before God to try their cases and to instruct them, but you need good men to help you in this matter.”
He told Moses to select capable men from among the people—god-fearing men—trustworthy men—just men—and appoint them as officials, according to the seriousness of the offenses: ‘over thousands’ (most simple determinations); ‘over hundreds’ (less simple judgments); ‘over fifties’ (more difficult problems); ‘over tens’ (quite difficult decisions). “The most difficult cases will come to you. This arrangement will make your load much lighter. If God so commands, and you do this, you will be able to stand the strain, and the people will go home more quickly and more satisfied.” Moses listened to Jethro and did all he had suggested, and apparently it was a workable solution.
We noticed in last week’s lesson that these experiences of Israel during their forty-year wilderness journey are “written for our instruction.” (I Cor. 1:11) Luke wrote in Acts 6:2-4 about a similar situation which existed in the Early Church, along with the divinely approved solution: “In those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out amongst you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word.
In order for the Gospel to be preached in all the world, there have, indeed, been many who have lent a helping hand to those whom God has used to send forth the glorious message of truth. We are reminded of Lydia’s hospitality while assisting Paul and Silas in Philippi. Lydia was a “seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God … whose heart the Lord opened, that attending unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye had judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” (Acts 16:14,15) Even today, each one of us can be a ‘Lydia’, assisting our brethren, holding up the hands of those who are privileged to preach the Gospel.