I love the movie Back to the Future. Marty McFly, the main character, observes how past events shape the future. It gives a romantic notion to time travel and the chance to revisit or change the past. I must admit, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to get a “do over” and relive certain events. But, like the movie warns, one tiny change can make a huge difference in the future. Mostly, even with the experience of pain and difficulties, I wouldn’t want to trade the current outcome of life for anything. However, the reality is that I certainly view many things differently now than when I was younger.
- Do you ever consider how you might respond differently to significant past events now that you are older?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 18:1-12 (ESV)
18:1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. 6 And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. 8 Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What is the common phrase in verses 1, 8 and 9?
- What difference of perspective can you see from how Moses named his children?
- What observations can you make about the relationship between Moses and Jethro (vss. 7-9)?
- What are the highlights of Jethro’s observations of God in verses 9-12?
- Can you identify times in your life which were difficult, but that brought opportunity for God to carry you through the difficulty?
RESPOND TO GOD
This section of Exodus seems to be a study in contrasts of focus and maturity. The way Moses named his first son reflects a self-focus, while the name of the second son shows focus on God. Moses acknowledged the reality of hardship, but also the culmination of God’s deliverance. It is a good reminder to us that life is hard, and God is good. These things are not contradictory. Hardship does not negate God’s goodness. Even in hardship, there is maturity. The Israelites could celebrate because they were delivered. They weren’t where they had been. They weren’t who they used to be. We can celebrate the same. We’ve matured. We’re not who we used to be.
- Take time to reflect on what God has taken you through to shape you into the person you are today. Give thanks for his goodness in never abandoning you in the process.