In chapter 18 of Exodus, Moses is on the verge of burnout if he is not there already. He is a one-man show amidst a people who are seeking the promised land.
At this point in the story, though, the promised land is but a vague notion, lying somewhere out there in the future, hoped for but not yet arrived. It is very much in front of the people of Israel. In the review mirror is bondage in Egypt, the plagues, the fights with Pharoah, the Passover, the deliverance through the sea, the exodus. Now, in the wilderness, the people wander here and there, with Moses reaching his limits in terms of what he can do.
Our passage is about how the people look to and come to Moses for advice, to judge disputes and conflict, to settle matters between families, to decide who does what and what they should do. And it is wearing Moses down.
His father-in-law Jethro sees what is happening. Hence the key verse where Jethro says to Moses: “This thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and the people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do this alone” (Exodus 18:18). Note the key word: alone! Moses needs help.
Again, let me ask you: Do you have a Jethro in your life? After all, all of us have limitations. We can’t do it all. Yet, I know we often try! Often alone!
Jethro is a person who reminds us that God may have other ways of doing things and that God provides people who might be able to help us. Jethro knows that working together as a team can accomplish more than going alone. This is what Jethro wants Moses to understand. It is also what we will want to understand as well.
Pastor Andy Kinsey