Friday, April 08, 2022

2022.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 18:1–12

Read Exodus 18:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who hears about God’s great works (Exodus 18:1)? What office does he hold? Who had been with him (Exodus 18:2-6)? What had Moses named his sons (Exodus 18:3-4)? Why? Where was Moses encamped (Exodus 18:5)? What does Jethro do before/as he comes (Exodus 18:6)? What does Moses do when he hears (Exodus 18:7)? What three things does he tell his father-in-law (Exodus 18:8)? How does Jethro respond (Exodus 18:9)? Whom does he bless (Exodus 18:10)? What has he had confirmed (Exodus 18:11a)? By what specific aspect of the deliverance (verse 11b)? What does Jethro now do in his office (Exodus 18:12a)? Who, specifically, come to participate in the blessing from it (verse 12b)? 

After this encounter with Jethro, the children of Israel will come to Sinai, where the Sinaitic (Mosaic) Covenant will be established, including the ceremonial law and the consecration of the sons of Aaron as a priesthood. 

But Jethro is priest for now (Exodus 18:1). As a Midianite (cf. Exodus 2:16-18, Exodus 3:1), he’s a descendant of Abraham (cf. Genesis 25:1–4) who believes in Yahweh. Exodus 18:9-11 are not a change but a joyous exultation in what has been confirmed. The burnt offering and sacrifices in Exodus 18:12, and the sacramental meal that they provide, are sanctioned by God. It’s a bit of a mystery; like the priesthood of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18–20, Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7), we don’t know where it came from or if/how it ended.

This made Jethro a safe place for Moses to send his wife and children while attending to the business of conflict with Pharaoh and leading Israel out of Egypt. Not so much because they were out of Pharaoh’s reach, but because they were in a home where Yahweh would be worshiped, Yahweh’s Word taught, and Yahweh’s gospel promises believed in. Since the last time we saw Zipporah was Exodus 4:24–26, it may even have been that incident of spiritual (and physical!) danger that had prompted Moses to send them back. If so, it was all the more important to him that they be somewhere that they would hear and hold to spiritual truth. 

And Jethro’s priesthood anticipates Moses’s and then Aaron’s mediation, which will soon take place at Sinai. In fact, it is at Sinai/Horeb that Jethro meets Moses. The sacrifices and sacrificial meal in Exodus 18:12 end up signifying an end of the patriarchal period and that period’s ways in which God met with His people and received their worship. 

God had saved. God had been merciful. God was worthy of great praise! So the antediluvian period had ended, with God saving Noah with a great salvation. So the Noahic period had ended, with God calling Abraham, redeeming him from idolatry, and promising to bring the blessings of all the nations through Him. And now, the patriarchal period ends on another high note. God has saved. God is merciful. God is worthy of great praise.

How much more so, when the Sinaitic period ends not so much with the judgment of the Israelite church and nation in 70 a.d. as with the salvation of every true Israelite (and every true grafted-in “Israelite”!) in the day that the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. A change of priesthood abolished the ceremonial law in favor of the once-for-all sacrifice of the Great High Priest and His ordinances for His sacrifice’s application (cf. Hebrews 7:12–13). Really, all of Hebrews 7:1–10:18 narrates the last change of redemptive eras, connecting the “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) that we have in Jesus’s forever-High-Priesthood (Hebrews 6:20) to our own entry in Him through that veil (Hebrews 10:19–25).

So as we sympathize with Jethro’s rejoicing in Exodus 18:9-11 and worshiping in Exodus 18:12, let us do so with a mind to rejoice all the more in our new and forever Priest, Jesus. God has saved. God has been merciful God is worthy of great praise!

What ordinances has Jesus appointed for showing forth the mercy and power of His once-for-all sacrifice? What worship has He consecrated with that sacrifice? With Him as our priest, how ought we to participate in those ordinances and worship? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for Your victory over sin and death and Satan! We praise You for the perfect efficacy of Your once-for-all sacrifice! Forgive us for when we come doubtingly to Your ordinances or coldly to Your worship. Grant that Your Spirit would give us Your own great joy we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH196 “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing”


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