In Exodus 18 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brings Moses’ family to meet him where he and Israel are “encamped “near the mountain of God (NIV).” This encounter serves as a chance for Jethro to hear first hand from Moses what God has been doing for Moses and Israel. Jethro is curious because word has reached him concerning “all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 18:1 ESV)
Moses shares his testimony with Jethro, and as a result of years of seeing God work in Moses’ life and the events God brought about to save Israel from Egyptian slavery, Jethro the priest of Midian, rejects all other Gods and becomes a converted, gentile God fearer, saying “Blessed be the LORD…Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods… (Ex 18: 10-11).
In the second half of the chapter, we see that Moses is risking burn out and is frustrating the people because he is carrying the whole load of ministry by himself. Jethro watches as “The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening.” (Exodus 18:13 ESV) There are so many people who “inquiring of God” that he can not keep up. Seeing how futile this one-man-show is, Jethro tells Moses “What you are doing is not good,” (Exodus 18:17 ESV) and advises him to share the work of ministry with “able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe” (Exodus 18:21 ESV). So Moses picks leaders based on their connection to God and their character and implements Jethro’s advice.
The main principle I put forth to our congregation for Exodus 19 was this, an Effective ministry is God working through us and others working alongside us. We see that because it was God working through Moses to save him from Pharaoh; it was God working through Moses to lead the Israelites out of Slavery and to sustain them through the hardships they met in the desert; It was God working through the life of Moses and Isreal and Moses’ testimony that turns a pagan priest into a gentile worshiper of the One True God. Yet we also see that ministry has a human component and that we can’t, and shouldn’t do it alone.
You can listen to or download the sermon here. You can see the archive of sermons from the Life of Moses series here. Below you will find the basic outline of my sermon, or you can download a PDF here: Sermon Notes Exodus 18
- If we are to have an effective ministry, we need God to work through us. (18:1-12)
- Our testimonies are stories of God’s faithfulness and work through us (1-7)
- Our testimonies are part of how God draws people to himself. (8-12)
- If we are to have an effective ministry, we need others to come alongside us. (13-27)
- Working with others eases the burden for you and for those you serve. (13-18)
- Working with others gives people a chance to take part in what God is doing. (19-27)
Effective ministry is God working through us and others working alongside us.