Have you ever received unsolicited advice from your in-laws?  Moses received some good advice from his father-in-law Yitro (Jethro), whose name is the title of this week’s parasha, which covers Exodus chapters 18 through 20.  Jethro, the priest of Midian who was also called Reuel or “friend of God” in Exodus 2, heard about Adonai’s mighty deeds for Moses and the Israelis.  Jethro came to meet Moses and was accompanied by Moses’ wife Zipporah and their sons Gershom and Eliezer.

Moses greeted Jethro and described what God did to the Egyptians for the Israelis, all the hardships the Israelis went through on their journey, and how God delivered them.  Jethro rejoiced in God’s provisions, proclaimed God’s superiority over all other gods, and provided a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Jethro is one of the first examples in Scripture of a Gentile coming to faith in the God of Israel through the testimony of the Jewish people.  He serves as a foreshadowing of Gentiles being joined by faith to God and to the Jewish people.

The next day, Jethro noticed that Moses spent the entire day as judge over the Israelis and suggested to Moses that it would be better for Moses to select honest and ethical judges to judge simpler cases, while Moses would judge the more difficult cases.  Moses accepted this wise advice and saved himself a lot of stress!  Jethro then returned to his country.

In chapter 19, the Jewish people arrived in the Sinai desert in the 3rd month after leaving Egypt. They left from Rephidim and camped near Mt. Sinai.  Moses went up Mt. Sinai and God instructed him to tell the Israelis of His mighty deeds.  God declared that if the Israelis obeyed Him and kept His covenant, they would be His treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  Moses told the Israelis these things and they declared their obedience to God’s commands.

When Moses took their response to Adonai, Adonai declared that He would show Himself to Moses in a cloud so that the Israelis would hear His words and learn to trust Moses.  Moses told Adonai their response and Adonai replied that Moses must consecrate them that day and the next day and they must wash their clothes.  They must be ready by the third day because Adonai would come down on Mt. Sinai. Any person or animal would be killed if they went up Mt. Sinai or even touched it, but the Israelis could come near to Mt. Sinai after hearing a long blast from the shofar.

Moses and the Israelis obeyed God’s commandments and on the morning of the third day, thunder and lightning were present with a thick cloud over Mt. Sinai, along with a trumpet blast.  Moses led the Israelis, who were understandably scared, to meet God at the base of Mt. Sinai, which was covered in smoke because God came upon it in fire.  The smoke rose, Mt. Sinai shook violently, and the trumpet volume increased. Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.

Adonai came to the top of Mt. Sinai and called Moses to Him.  Adonai told Moses to warn the Israelis again to stay away from Mt. Sinai, and that the priests must consecrate themselves or suffer His judgment.  Moses replied that the Israelis wouldn’t come because of Adonai’s commands and Adonai replied that Moses could bring Aaron with him, but everyone else must stay away.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments in chapter 20, which serve as a summary of all that He commanded in the Torah.  The Israelis were terrified at the events on Mt. Sinai and asked Moses to speak to God for them.  Moses said that God was testing them so they wouldn’t sin.  Moses went up Mt. Sinai and the Jewish people stayed behind.

Parasha Yitro shows us several truths that we should apply to our lives.  First, accepting wise counsel from those who live righteously will lead to our benefit.  Moses accepted Jethro’s suggestion to delegate some of the legal caseload to godly judges, which reduced Moses’ daily stress.  Learning to obey Adonai by following the advice of those with wisdom and discernment is always a good thing, so let’s be wise by listening to those who are wise!

Second, everyone needs a Mediator to come before God.  No one will ever be accepted by God based upon their own righteousness, because everyone is completely infected by sin, and we all eventually violate some aspect of the Torah. James wrote to the Messianic believers in James 2 that breaking any part of the Law is the same as breaking the entire Law.

Since we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, nothing we do by our own strength is enough to be reconciled to God.  Israel’s encounter with God at Mt. Sinai refutes the false claim that Jewish people don’t need a mediator to come to God.

The Good News is that we have a perfect Mediator who is able to make complete atonement for our sins – Messiah Yeshua! He is our perfect High Priest who eternally intercedes for those who have declared Him as Lord and believe that He rose from the dead.

Just as the Israelis were given the promise that they would be Adonai’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation if they would follow and obey Him, Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians are given new identities as the people of the Lord and as royal priests through faith in Yeshua.

So, let’s show our gratitude for what Yeshua did for us, and still does for us, by obeying what He has commanded of us and remaining loyal to Him as Lord and Savior!