Day 15

Jethro’s Visit

from the Exodus reading plan


Exodus 17:1-16, Exodus 18:1-27, Deuteronomy 17:8-11, Acts 6:1-7


“Can I help you find something?” “No thanks, I am just browsing.” 

The truth was, I did need help. I was in Home Depot needing a tool for a project, and after half an hour of looking, I couldn’t find it. I needed help, I just didn’t want to admit it. “No thanks, I am just browsing” really meant, “I need help, but I don’t want to need help.” 

That is true about me in really simple situations like shopping for a tool. That is also true about me in more weighty situations like pastoring a church, being a good father, or simply being faithful to follow Jesus. I need help, but I don’t want to need help.

The words of Jethro land as a kind confrontation to my help-resistant heart. 

“What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’s father-in-law said to him. “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone” (Exodus 18:17–18).

Moses is such a prominent figure in the biblical narrative that it would be easy to think of him as a self-sufficient superhuman, never needing help. God used him as the primary human agent through which He rescued Israel. Moses had a unique relationship with God and played a unique role in God’s story. Surely, he was fine on his own. Not quite. Everything about Exodus 17 and 18 reinforces Jethro’s words. At the beginning of chapter 17, Moses needed God’s wisdom, so the people didn’t kill him (Exodus 17:4). In the second half of 17, Moses needed his friends to hold up his arms so the people weren’t defeated (v.12). In chapter 18, Moses needed his father-in-law’s advice so he and the people didn’t burn out (Exodus 18:17). Again in 18, Moses needed the leaders of Israel to share the burden of leadership so the people could flourish (v.25).

Moses couldn’t do it alone. Neither can I. Neither can you. 

A truth threaded throughout the Bible is that God created humanity to need one another. Even before sin entered the world, God declared, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). That was true for Adam and Eve in the garden, for Moses and Israel in the wilderness and for you and me today. We need one another to help hold up each other’s arms so we can fight for faithfulness to Jesus in every area of our lives. That is the beauty of the story the Bible tells. What the people of Israel were navigating in the wilderness is now what the Church of Jesus navigates in a different kind of wilderness as we await His return. We find the help we need in the community we belong to. This story reminds my help-resistant heart to not only seek help from others, but to give thanks to God for providing it in and through His Church. 

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