From the wilderness at Sin, the next major stop for the Israelites was Rephidim. In my opinion this stop was all about Moses. If you’ve ever been in charge of others you should be able to relate to Moses’ situation with his people. Parenting is a great example. Your attention is always being demanded. “I can’t find this. She’s being mean to me. Fix this. Make me something to eat. Iron my clothes.” Moses had about 500,000 people coming at him from every direction all day. If you’ve ever been in charge of a ministry you are painfully aware that whenever a problem arises or someone is just rubbed the wrong way, you get an earful. Moses dealt with complaining and grumbling from the Red Sea through to the promise land. Well now they had reached Rephidim, which is very close to Moses home where his wife and children live. They immediately began to grumble against Moses and Aaron, and the Lord when they found there was no water. God showed Moses what to do and they soon got what they needed, as usual. What I want to focus on however is what God did for Moses here. It had been a really rough journey for Moses. But God knew that just like He knows every inch of our journey. Don’t ever think that He doesn’t. God always sends blessings in the trials. We just need to look for them and when we see them, give thanks.
So the next thing at Rephidim was the battle with the Amalekites. That was the first real battle for the Israelites. Moses told Joshua to choose men and go fight and Moses would hold the staff of God up until the victory was won. As long as the staff was held up they were winning. When Moses lowered the staff they began to lose so he had to hold it up high until the battle was won. When the burden was too heavy, Moses’ brother Aaron and friend Hur brought a stone for him to sit on and held up his arms. They did this until the battle was won. This whole thing made me think, “How well did Moses even know these people?” I’m sure at times he felt lonely. “Could he even trust anyone in this huge congregation?” Moses had Aaron but even Aaron and their sister Miriam had betrayed his trust in the past. I believe God used this battle so that Moses could get acquainted with some of the people that God loved so much. We see the emergence of Joshua and Hur, and soon we will see how God gives Moses a whole new group of leaders that he can rely on, people he could trust.
The other thing that God did for Moses was to bring him close to home, his comfort place. He may have led the sheep out that way many times. Then God sent his family to him, his wife and children and his father-in-law, Jethro. God gave Moses some rest.
Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.” So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence. Exodus 18:6-12 NLT
Moses witnessed to his father-in-law about all that God had done and Jethro believed all of it. In the next passages the Bible tells of how Jethro set up a new order of things by taking the burden off of Moses and splitting it up by appointing judges. That wisdom came from God. As I was contemplating these passages my thoughts went back to verses 11-12. First, Jethro gave glory to the One True God. Then he cleansed himself by offering the appropriate sacrifices and burnt offerings and then broke bread with Israel, meaning he was accepted into their community and accepted by God. God prepared Jethro to receive His wisdom and instruction. In verses 13-24 Jethro corrected Moses and instructed him that Moses would wear himself out if he continued to do everything himself. Now, why didn’t’ God just tell Moses this? If Moses was anything like me, you can tell me but I would rather do things myself because I know it’ll be done right. With all of the trials that Moses dealt with, with these people, could he trust any of them to do what they were supposed to? God spoke all of this through Jethro, someone Moses was comfortable with. Moses could receive instructions from God about the people all day long with no problem, but struggled with receiving from God for himself. Its wonderful to think how well God knows each of us and He knows exactly how to get through to us when we need it.