Yitro – “Jethro”

This week our parasha is parasha Yitro, “Jethro” and covers Exodus 18:1–20:23. The gods of the Egyptians have been defeated, Pharaoh has been humiliated, his firstborn son, “killed” and his army destroyed. The Red Sea has parted, Israel has been released from slavery, Adonai has been glorified and all the nations know of the God Israel.

The news of the chosen nation’s activities has traveled far and wide. Two million people leaving Egypt, crossing the Red Sea by a marvelous miracle, moving southward in the Sinai peninsula, and defeating the strong Amalekites – this was news that could not be kept secret. Travelers, herdsmen, and dwellers in nearby areas, even spies of other nations would have heard about these great events and would report the news to others. Israel’s activities were the big events of that time and area.

Hearing of this Exodus, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law visited Moses. Jethro apparently had followed the affairs of his son-in-law with intense interest so that when the Israelis camped at Rephidim, Jethro determined to go see his son-in-law.

This visit of Jethro the priest of Midian, was not only a reunion with Moses’ father-in-law, but also a reunion with his wife and sons. Remember, Zipporah, Moses’ wife  had been sent back to Jethro after the circumcision incident on the way to Egypt.

Moses had two sons, whose names reflected the faith of Moses. Followers of Adonai often expressed their faith by the names they gave their children. The firstborn son of Moses was named Gershom, which means alien, Because Moses understood that he had been an alien in a foreign land.

An Israeli who had faith in Adonai never would have considered any land but Israel as his home. That was the land the Lord gave them in the covenant. The second son was “Eliezer”  which means “God is my help.” This speaks of strong faith in Adonai and shows gratitude to Him.

When Moses left Midian to go to Egypt, he was a fugitive and a lowly shepherd of his father-in-law Jethro. Now he is he’s the emancipator, law-giver, prophet, miracle worker and leader of the chosen nation of the Three-In-One God. Moses’prestige had risen tremendously since leaving the Midianite scene, and It’s almost certain that Jethro took all of this into account.

Moses told his father-in-law everything that Adonai had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, he told of their struggles, and how God had delivered them. Moses didn’t talk about their troubles only, he also talked about their triumphs.

Jethro was so moved that he said: Praise the Lord because He freed you from the powers of Egypt. He saved you from Pharaoh. Now I know the Lord is greater than all the gods! Jethro is an example of the Lord accomplishing his purposes through the Jewish people, so that all the world would know that Israel’s God, is “God Almighty.”

Jethro brought sacrifices and offerings to honor Adonai. Then Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat with Moses’ father-in-law. They all ate together glorifying God.

Moses said to Jethro: “We are traveling to the land that Adonai has promised to give to us. Come with us and we will be good to you. Adonai  has promised good things to the Israelis.” But Jethro refused, wanting to go back to his homeland and people.

How wonderful it would have been to have heard Jethro say:

“Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God” – but he didn’t say that.

Jethro was a just man who had a deep religious spirit; he also displayed wisdom when he taught Moses how to delegate authority. But, his faith was lacking. Jethro’s acknowledgment of the supemacy of the God of Israel did not suggest that he was a true worshiper of Adonai.

The polytheism of the pagan nations allowed them to recognize the powers of various deities and praise each god when there was evidence of their power.

In our nation today, there are millions of Jethros. They know something about the true God, but they also have other gods. They have their own idols, its not images of wood and stone that they’re worshipping, but idols in the sense of priorities that interfere with their acknowledging and serving the true and living God.

There are Jethros in churches and there are Jethros in Messianic Congregations. The question each one of us needs to ask is: Am I a Jethro?

Chapter 19: Moses was told to have the people purify themselves and be ready to receive a powerful revelation from Mount Sinai on the third day. God had several purposes for bringing His chosen nation to this mountain to receive the Ten Commandments.

1. To reveal His glory and holiness. Theses revelations from Mount Sinai revealed a great and holy God.

2. To reveal man’s sinfulness. The law shows men their sin nature. The Law is holy and good. Our violation of it reveals we are unholy sinners.

3.To mark Israel as the chosen people, and to separate them from all other nations. This great display of Adonai’s grace to Israel, was that He gave His revelations to Israel and to no other nation.

4. To give Israel a standard for godly living, so that the Jewish people might obey and be blessed and inherit the land and enjoy its blessings.

5. To prepare Israel for the coming of Messiah.Israel was in spiritual childhood under the law, but this also prepared her for the coming grace of the Messiah.

The Ten Commandments were proclaimed to Israel directly by God’s voice during the time God manifested Himself in thunder, lightning, fire, smoke and thick darkness on Mount Sinai.

All the other statutes were given to Israel by Adonai through Moses.

“NOTE” the importance of the Ten Commandments are further emphasized by the fact that they were later inscribed by the finger of God in tablets of stone.

1. You shall have no other gods before Me. If we do not have God in His proper position in our hearts, all other statutes will not be viewed properly.

2. You shall not make an idol. The first commandment tells us who to worship. This commandment tells us how to worship.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. We must always reverence, honor and glorify God name.

4. Remember the Sabbath day. Israel was expected to rest from work and honor the Creator on this day. It is also a day that Christians can enter into His blessings.

5. Honor your father and your mother. They are God’s representatives in the family. Dishonor them and you dishonor God.

6. You shall not murder. Human beings are made in the image of God and we must respect their lives.

7. You shall not commit adultery. Maintaining the integrity of marriage is very important to God and should be to us.

8. You shall not steal. Individuals can own property and their property should be respected. This allows people to peacefully live with each other.

9. You shall not give false testimony. We do this by leaving something out of a story, telling half truths, twisting the facts, or inventing falsehoods.

10. You shall not covet. Greedy people will break the other commandments in order to satisfy their covetous desires.

There are few points on which Christians make a greater mistake than on the relation that exists between Law and the Gospel or Law and grace. Many see them as adversaries but the reality is that they are allies, and we need both.

We need Law and we need Gospel and grace. The Law reveals God’s standards that we all fall short of.

If you ignore the Law or lower its standards you dim the light by which sinners perceives their guilt. This is a very serious loss to the sinner, because it lessens the likelihood of the sinner’s conviction and conversion.

Sinners will not appreciate grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law.

The Law strips, and then Messiah comes in and robes the soul in  beauty and glory.

The Law is the surgeon’s knife that cuts out the proud flesh so that the wound may heal.

Ignore the Law and you deprive the Gospel of its most powerful ally. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster who brings men to the Messiah.

The law was given through Moses – and that’s a great thing. Grace and truth were realized through Messiah Yeshua, and that’s an even greater thing! Thank God for the Law, and thank God for the Messiah who bring grace, truth and gospel to those who know Him and obey Him!