Tag Archives: Moses

Exodus 24:1-18 Alone with God 9-29-15

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Alone with God…
Ex 24:1-18
10/5/3; ed. 9/20/15

Introduction…What does a good relationship truly cost? Are good relationships expensive? If so, why?


What about the costs associated with a royal wedding? Ever seen one? Why do nations and royals go to such lengths to get married? Do such weddings always work? Why or why not?


What about you? Do you have a costly, but deeply meaningful relationship? What did this relationship cost both parties? How has it been maintained over time?

As you study and observe this passage that for all intent purposes is a royal wedding of sorts, why do you think God goes to so much trouble, time and expense to not only bring his bride, Israel, to himself but to enter into a covenant with her? Why the big deal?

What about you and God? Has this been a costly relationship? If so, how so?

Your servant,

jc Continue reading

Exodus 22:17-31 Compassion and Worship 8-23-15

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Life of Moses
Ex 22:16-31
Severely Protected Compassion and Worship
9/14/3; ed. 8.23.15


Why do are some indiscretions more severely dealt with than others? How or on what basis does a person or community decide to punish some crimes worse than others? And if this is true in life, why would this not be true within God’s OT law? Are you able to discern why God chooses to punish some behaviors worse than others?

do not cross

General Introduction:   Continue reading

Exodus 21:1-14 The Law: Mercy and Servants 8-2-15

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Life of Moses
Exodus 21:1-14
More Laws: Mercy in the Midst of Struggle…Treatment of Servants…
Orig. 8/24/03; ed. 8/2/15

Introduction: Do you know what scaffolding is? What is its purpose? You just can’t construct something out of nothing. You have to have a way to get to what you want to build or renovate, thus the need for scaffolding.

The Law, the Covenant between God and Israel, our Constitution, classroom or house rules all serve as a type of moral scaffolding. These are the things we use as we seek to build a moral conscience that please, imitates and honors God, while at the same time learning how to love or respectfully treat my fellow man. Why? Because our natural tendency is to mainly think of ourselves and what we want? That tendency is so strong without some form of temporary moral constraints, we would probably destroy one another. Thus the need for law, rules and even customs.
Rio Jesus Renovation








Renovation: The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio is covered in scaffolding. The iconic statue, inaugurated in 1931, is getting a $4million facelift (March 13, 2010).

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1257689/Statue-Christ-Rio-covered-scaffolding-gets-4m-facelift.html#ixzz3hVAjC0bF Continue reading

Ex 20:12ff Divine Wedding: Part V: More Critical Vows

Exodus Studies Pic

Life of Moses
A Most Divine Wedding Covenant: Part V: More Critical Vows
Ex 20:12ff

Introduction: Why are boundaries important? Why are rules or guidelines important? If we didn’t have rules, guidelines, agreements, even laws to coordinate our choices and activities, what might society or our relationships look like? Why is it important not just to love God, but others as well? And why is it important to know what those rules, boundaries or guidelines are? So for one moment, work with me. Take just one of those agreed upon rules that you attempt to live by, either within your family, work, society, team etc. and disregard it. Now what happens? Is the fabric of the relationship torn or damaged? What are the possible repercussions? Try this out with several agreed upon rules or laws? What is the general consensus when several of these rules are disregarded? Why are rules important?

General Introduction:  Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain — the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.

The Bride, Israel, having ritually purified herself and refrained from having sexual relations with each other,  approaches her Groom’s mountain, via her leadership and prepares to take her vows—the covenant.

Preview: In eleven verses, via his four first commands of eventually over 600, Yahweh God makes it very clear to his nation-bride that what is of paramount importance to maintaining their relationship as Spiritual groom and bride or God and nation both exclusivity and rest or intimacy. There will be no other gods or Spiritual relationships tolerated, and there needs to be a consistent, weekly time set aside from everything else, including all work, for the exclusive maintaining and growth of this God-people relationship.

Now come some vital and universal intrapersonal vows for maintaining, not just the relationship between God and his people, but between person to person and person to his community. If the whole is going to survive and thrive as a nation, a respect for their Creator and Redeemer absolutely must translate into common, agreed upon ethic, or way of justly and fairly dealing with one another.

Pray (Ask God for insight…)

Read Passage several times…(if more than 12 verses, I would read only twice).

Ask Questions (with No Answers)

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

What does it mean to honor or value one’s Father and Mother, and why? While the emphasis over the years has tended to be upon young children obeying or honoring the parents, or perhaps even perhaps helping to create or foster their children’s respect for them, others have suggested that this command really has to do with respecting or protecting one’s elders—that this command is directed towards adult children taking care of their older, elderly parents… so much so, that the promise seems to have implications for the nation’s longevity. In other words, don’t look out for your elderly parents, and your days will not be prolonged in the land which has been given to you by God?

Or another way of looking at this command or vow is that the hierarchical structure Yahweh is intending to put into place is very much based upon a respect for one who is older, wiser and more experienced, such as parents? Children, even adult children are to honor or respect their parents, and in doing so, this says a lot about a nation’s culture and values? The elderly are not set aside, disregarded or looked down upon, but instead, after exclusive intimacy with God, the next greatest commandment or vow is to respect and honor one’s parents or caregivers?

13 “You shall not murder.

Next, after exclusive intimacy with one’s creator and respect or devotion to one’s parents, is a respect for life. In perhaps a seemingly lawless age, Yahweh God says you will not get ahead by slaughtering or taking away another human soul. Life is important. You shall not murder?

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Next, is a respect for another’s or one’s mate or wife, in this case? The marriage covenant, contract, bond or tradition will be honored? I will not tolerate Spiritual infidelity, I will not tolerate marital infidelity? The marriage bed will be kept pure? Families will be protected? Marriage will be kept safe? One will not have to worry about one’s husband or wife cheating with someone else? Children will know whom their parents are? As there is Spiritual fidelity between one and God and a nation and God, there will be marital fidelity between humans, especially marriage couples?

15 “You shall not steal.

Next, a person will not only not have to worry about living or keeping one’s mate, but his or her possessions will be safe as well? Do you get the idea here? God is setting boundaries, rules, laws between his people so that society does not disintegrate into man eat man or dog eat dog chaos and competition? Possession are safe. Stealing will not be tolerated.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Next, your words are important. You can’t cheat by misrepresenting the truth via a lie or mistruth? Truth is my standard? Once again, do you get the idea—with rules and protections, people are safe? Why? Because there is not cheating, stealing and killing going on? Only the evil or the rule breakers need to fear Yahweh God’s wrath, discipline or judgment. The rest of you, who play within the rules, rest.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

And finally, life’s ambition is not to take or desire what belongs to another. Now that is an interesting one, depending upon what “covet” means, much like what does “honor” mean with respect to parents. Does “covet” just imply an inward feeling or emotion or thought, or does it imply something more—actually acting on one’s covetous desires? And how does one NOT “covet” or “want” what someone else has? How does one stop the thoughts, if they are there? How does one learn to be content with what one has or has been given? And why is this warning or command so important as to make the top ten?





In order for Yahweh’s redeemed national, Spiritual bride Israel to thrive, she not only has to remain exclusively and actively engaged with her Redeemer, God, she must be faithful to her fellow Spiritual body parts. She must be true to herself because in all reality, she is a collective ONE. What are the foundational or most essential vows for maintaining this Spiritual ONE? One positive vow—honor one’s parents, followed by five negatives or prohibitions…don’t murder, break one’s marriage vows, take from another, lie to another or desire what someone has. Do these and she will remain a united one that can then be a holy one with respect to her Redeemer. Amazing.

Summary…In order to be a holy one, Israel, because she is made up of many millions, must also, to one degree, be a united one. In other words, not only must she be true to God, but true to herself…or all her parts or people. And how will she do this? Six critical intrapersonal commands or vows that each member of the Spiritual bride must abide by, if the bride is also to become a holy bride to her Redeemer.

Bottom line…just as there is a holy one between God and his people; there is a united holy one between the people themselves. Thus there is both the one and the many. We are all a part of great, redeemed holy nation, and everyone has a faithful part to maintain the covenant.

Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)

• There is both a love of God and one another as a part of the Spiritual bride or community. One cannot love God and not love or be loyal or act against the community’s best Spiritual interest. In other words, one can cheat his fellowman and think that he is holy. Can’t be done. To every human being, or perhaps rather, every called child of God on the planet, there is both a relationship with God and one another, and each feeds the other. If one is out of sorts with God, he is out of sorts with his fellowman, and if he is out of sorts with his fellowman, he is out of sorts with God.

Now potentially is one always out of sorts with both? Of course, but within the OT or Mosaic Covenant here, I am not sure that Yahweh God fully expected his people to fully understand that man is never perfect at this point in time. Maybe he did? Perhaps the righteous Israelite realized that no amount of sacrifices would make him fully righteous before God—that as Paul writes very incredibly within his letter to the Romans…that we all fall short of God’s glory. That no one is perfect. And that in the end, we are all tainted by sin’s imperfection every moment of every day of our existence, and so much so, that only through one’s faith or trust (Romans 3-4) in a sacrificial atonement for one’s sinful imperfection that only Yahweh God could and would, in the end, supply, just as he supplied a ram for Abraham as he was about to obediently sacrifice his own son, Isaac, as Yahweh had directed him to do, but in the end, had only intended to test Abraham’s faith and love.

So did the average Israelite get that not even a seeminlgy unblemished animal sacrifice could atone for his ever-continuously, ongoing sinful, imperfect approach to life? I doubt it. But in the end, that answer and sacrifice was finally and fully revealed in the divine giving of a truly perfect sacrifice for fallen man’s ever, ongoing and constant sinful nature in the person and sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. But the same truth that was valid witihn the preamble to the Old Covenant remains true within the New Covenant—one cannot love, worship or trust God, without loving and caring about God’s other chosen children. If you love God, through the Spirit, we are being taught and trained up NOT to lie, steal, murder, dishonor, be unfaithful to our brothers and sisters in the faith of God. If you love others, you love God, and if you love God, you will love others. And if you don’t love others, you don’t love God. And if you don’t love God, you will not love others. The two go hand in hand. The Bride, through her ongoing and maturing righteous orientation towards one another is maturing into a holy bride that honors and worships her holy Redeemer.

• And that within this love for one another, the beginning value system or parameters have to do with things such as: 1) adult children honoring or valuing their parents, and that somehow this type of fidelity will end up sustaining each suceeding generation; 2) not murdering, stealing from or lying to one another, nor being maritally unfaithful to one’s mate, nor coveting what another brother or sister has. These are the basic beginning Spiritual parameters that God expects all his children to abide by and or learn to abide by or mature in. These are the values that set God’s children apart from a world that refuses to love, worship, trust, obey or acknowledge Creation’s Creator. In other words, there are boundaries. There are values, especially in a fallen, dog-eat-dog, sinful, evil and imperfect world. And these are the values we are to espouse to as God’s children.

So What?

Last Study’s Application…I have several thoughts: 1) I just experienced a marital and emotional sabbatical rest last night with my wife when we took time away to listen to beautiful classical music, go out to eat and enjoy a late evening walk and talk with each other. It was very helpful my Spiritual and emotional equilibrium.

2) On a greater, annual or semi-annual scale, I am about to take some time away with my wife to recreate a portion of my insatiable curiosity to explore, discover and observe the geographical landscape—this time, portions of the American Southwest;

3) I witness too many foolish people that attempt to thrive or something without some meaningful, regular and frequent Spiritual rest and accountability. But authentic Spiritual vitality just can’t be done without the Spiritual Bride and Groom spending regular rested time together. God ceased his creative activities for a purpose. It’s implanted within our creative and redemptive DNA…as creatures created within the image of our Creator and now, recreated by faith and forgiveness in the image of our Redeemer. We were made and reborn to Spiritually rest and be reborn via the Spirit within the presence of our Lord and Savior. How to persuade them to do otherwise…now that I have yet to discover. Again and again and again, I see devastating consequences.

4) At the same time, this consistent, frequent and intimate Spiritual bride and groom time or space must be characterized by authenticity. Anything less is useless Spiritual fraud.

Applicational Update and Thanksgiving…Not only did I get to experience with my bride of 36-37 years, depending upon when one dates the beginning of our covenant—from our engagement or our wedding—a powerful, Spiritual renewal of our covenant, but my heart and soul were just as refreshed from some not only personal ministry with family along the way, but living and driving 3-D within my Creator’s magnificent creation. Amazing. I get the principle of regularly getting alone with those with whom one is in covenant with. It is everything. Fortunately, with the Spirit, prayer, his word and the Body of Christ, that regular renewal is possible in many soul-cleansing, mind-renewing, refreshing ways every day and every week.

Struggle…Now that I have been to the mountain top, both Spiritually and literally (within the Rockies), it is a transition of sorts back to the daily grind, or should we say answering the daily demands and challenges, including this lesson, including Sunday’s teaching, including all the many pastoral and administrative demands and challenges, including writing. I can see why even Jesus took time to get away from the crowd of ministry, and my crowd of ministry is so so much smaller.

Truth…Loving God is loving others and vice versa; both are vital; both are connected; both keep you on your toes, especially within an evil, self-leaning world and existence. Am I getting alone with God, worshiping only him and I am a living within the moral, Spiritual boundaries of treating others righteously or appropriately, and in doing so, am I changing? Am I being conformed to the image of my Redeemer?

Beginning with the Old Covenant, am I/we honoring our parents, both physical and Spiritual? Am I/we not murdering others, not inappropriately taking from them, not lying to them, being martially faithful to our spouses, and not coveting or envying what they may have that I might or might not have?

But then even more, now based on the New Covenant that I have with God through his Son’s sacrifice, am I, via the Holy Spirit, learning what it means to truly love or be Spiritually attracted to others as Christ as was attracted to and sacrificially poured out his life for his own, including me (John 13-17; 1 John)?

Application…God, help me be sensitive to what you want to do through me to or with others. I am your servant. There are times, I want to do what I want to do or what I think I need to do, but really, in the end, I truly want to die to my own, instinctually-flawed, self-centered approach to living life. I know how to do that, Lord. I want to be led and directed by your Spirit even in the moments that I initially don’t know what to do or an uncomfortable doing, including honoring my/our parents, that I sometimes do well, but often times don’t as well; I haven’t murdered anyone literally, Lord; I have lied; probably, in ways that I would not like to think about, have stolen; certainly have coveted; but have been faithful to my wife, at least physically and in many more ways, but certainly NOT always in my thoughts. Thus, Lord, I am deeply grateful for your atonement that continually cleanses me from all my sinful imperfection. I also thankful for your Spirit and my mentor/teacher, who again and again and again, teaches, reminds, exposes, convicts, reveals to me and encourages me in my journey to love YOU and your people as you love and/or attracted. I am a work in progress. Continue to teach me to trust you in that journey and not become afraid or uptight when things don’t always go as I would like for them to, but to trust you that you are in charge and that you want to and will show me the way as I prayerfully seek your presence, truth, power, hope, love and guidance IN THE MOMENT where life is lived. Teach me not only how to be exclusively intimate with you, but how this worship translates into relating to fallen human beings. Amen.

Your servant,


Your Struggle? 

Your Truth? 

Your Application? 


Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984,

Exodus Studies Pic

Life of Moses
A Most Divine Wedding: Part IV: A Most Important Vow…
Ex 20:8-11
7/27/3; ed. 6.28.15

Introduction: Got a best friend? Perhaps, your mate? Got some good friends? So how do you maintain that or those friendships? What happens when you don’t maintain that or those friendships? I mean what happens over time? How do you most enjoy spending time with that friend or friends? Might any of the same things that make friendships, meaningful, satisfying and enduring apply to our relationship with God or the community of fellow believers in Christ?

Couple at sunset

General Introduction:  Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain–the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.

The Bride, Israel, having ritually purified herself and refrained from having sexual relations with each other, via her leadership, approaches her Groom’s mountain and prepares to take her vows—the covenant.  Continue reading

Exodus 20:1-7 Divine Wedding Part III: The Vows

Exodus Studies Pic

Fellowship@Cross Creek
Life of Moses
A Most Divine Wedding: Part III: The Vows…
Ex 20:1-7
7/20/3; ed. 6.21.15

General Introduction:  Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food and water issues, a threatening military foe and leadership issues, God’s people have now reached his mountain, the place where Moses was called by God to lead them out of Egypt in the first place.

The Bride, Israel, having ritually purified herself and refrained from having sexual relations with each other, via her leadership, approaches her Groom’s mountain and prepares to take her vows—the covenant.

Continue reading

Exodus 19:15-25 A Most Divine Wedding: Part II 7-13-15

Exodus Studies Pic

Fellowship@Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Preparing to Meet Her Divine Groom—
A Most Divine Wedding: Part II
Ex 19:15-25
7/13/3; ed. 6.14.15

Introduction…Been to a wedding lately? What was it like? Anything you really liked about it, or was it just a formal, seemingly uncomfortable religious ritual? I mean what is all that religious ritual all about in the first place? And why in a church so often? Why the dresses, suits, flowers, candles, decorations and formal music? Why does the bride wear an expensive white dress? Why do bridesmaids and a bride, often times escorted by her father, enter in to the sanctuary in such a formal manner?

BC chapel wedding

by Shann Swift at Swiftshots; To see tons more beautiful wedding photographs like this one go to: http://www.swiftshots.com/weddings

Continue reading

Exodus 19:1-14 Preparing for a Wedding with the Divine

Exodus Studies Pic


Fellowship @Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Preparing for One’s Wedding with the Divine…
Ex 19:1-14
7/6/3; ed. 5/31/15

Introduction…What does it take to get into or find the presence of God… His real, intimate presence? Is there a bit of holiness or Spiritual cleansing that needs to take place? And if so, what does that look like?

Within this account of Yahweh and his bride Israel’s wedding, there is a sense of sacred awe surrounding God’s holy mountain.

Does God’s Spirit still do this with us, either the very first time, by faith, when we enter into an eternal covenant with God or even on a daily, seasonal or moment by moment basis? Do we the church, the bride, still need our dirty feet washed to enjoy intimacy with our Groom?

Jord-april close up wedding

If so, what could or does this look like right now? Today? What does it take for you to feel or enjoy the presence and power of God? Worship? Music? A song? Prayer? Confession? His word? The community of the faithful? Perhaps different things at different times? But what works most of the time? How does it feel? Do you like this feeling? Would you like it more often? How might you better prepare to be in the presence of your Divine Love?

Your servant,

jc Continue reading

Exodus 18:1ff Sustainable Shepherding 5-17-15

Exodus Studies Pic


Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Lesson 31
Sustainable Shepherding…
Ex 18:1ff

Introduction…At first glance this study do-over from 2003 didn’t seem to connect with me much until the application at the end, and then it was like being hit with a bullet right between the eyes—deadly convicting. Why the sudden impact? Because we all have lots to do, or it seems that way at times. Well, so did Moses as he was leading the Children of Israel from their former Egyptian bondage and persecution through the wilderness to their Promise Land destiny. Can you imagine all the logistical nightmares and conflicts between three million people attempting to migrate from one corner of the world to just around the block? The task had to be daunting, and there was NO current leadership or management structure in place. No doubt there were tribes and families, and enough organizational structure to fight battles with, which they had just done with the Amalekites, but apparently, something more was needed—a system of administrative courts or judges or leaders where tasks could be meted out and problems resolved.

Is this not our lives, perhaps not so much with younger children, but certainly as they get older and have assignments to finish, chores to get done, problems and conflicts to solve, desires to fulfill and goals and dreams to ponder? And how does one manage all this? I am a perpetual list maker. I have lists on my marker board at church, on my marker board at home, in my little notebook that I carry with me and in my larger notebook that I carry in my backpack. I can make a list of fifty to hundred things to do in minutes. Sometimes, my lists overwhelm me and I want to run away from them because they seem never to get done. Some of the things on my list are overwhelming. I write them down like they are no big deal, and then over time come to realize that these desires or tasks may take years, even decades, to accomplish, as some have taken, and still others are still waiting to be checked off my list. Thus, I am not always so discerning about my lists. And my lists are not just about accomplishing impersonal things. In fact, many of them have to do with people, which may include difficult questions or conversations—some of these conversational approaches I must prayerfully incubate for days, weeks, months, even years.

smile overwhelmed

So why do I think in endless lists and conversations with people that may take years to accomplish, if ever? Because I live. In fact, we all live… in what is now an imperfect world. Things break. People are broken. Relationships are broken. And as God’s redeemed and maturing ministering spirits or sons, this IS our task in a post-Eden fallen culture. It was once to manage a perfect garden with a helpmate, which I am not sure how all this looked or took shape, but that has now all changed.

Now we fight; now we work, and then rebel, sneak, lie, cheat, as well as, attempt to build productive coalitions that hopefully attack the never-ending, viral and devastating effects of evil or sin unleashed on a foolishly, naïve culture. In fact, I had a public defender, a very good one, tell me recently that if he could take away alcohol and drugs, there would be no need for public defenders. Almost all crime can be traced back to this slippery pursuit of immediate. short-term pleasure. Well, we tried taking away the alcohol for the very same reason several generations ago, and well, that was certainly an experiment in rearranging life’s moral clutter.

Bottom line: we all can have a lot to do because the world and people need managing and attending to, and if we are to do it well or with passion, we will have a lot to do, and if we have any hope of enduring, as we do it, we will need help.

And as his children, we have been given the basis for that help in our Spiritual Nanny or Tutor of sorts, His Spirit, but no doubt both within Israel’s vast journey within the Old Testament and the Church’s within the New Testament and beyond, the Holy Trinity of Relationship, the Godhead, Three in One, has determined that its children will perform their task of subduing or managing a fallen creation and culture—as brothers and sisters, learning to die to our sin an and selfishness, and, with the help of the Spirit, learning to work together as a team for a common Spiritual good in Christ.

A part of this study is about learning how to manage that Spiritual team of energy, vision, mercy, hope, love and passion effectively. Thus, whatever purpose God’s Spirit is leading you to shepherd, serve or grow with, don’t discount the purpose or value of Jethro’s wisdom to his son-in-law because whether you realize it or not, you are Moses in a fall world…with a whole lot to do, and if you think about it, probably more than you could ever imagine.

Your servant,


General Introduction: Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to the forefathers many centuries before. But their journey is not without its problems. Last week God via Moses’ staff delivered the Israelites from two enemies: a lack of water and the fierce Amalekites.

This week Moses while attempting to solve all the Israelites problems is given a great piece of wisdom from his father-in-law who has brought out Moses’ wife and children to meet him.

Recent Studies…

Israel sing out its praise to Yahweh of Yahweh God’s delivering Israel from utter annihilation at the hands of Pharaoh’s massive army. Ex. 15:1ff.

After healing Marah’s bitter waters, Yahweh tests Israel with a lasting ordinance—if you keep my laws, I will keep you safe from all the things that the Egyptians feared. Ex. 15:22ff.

Now, with their backs seemingly up against another wall–the wall of daily sustenance in the desert, the whole community rises up to turn its collective fear and complaint towards God’s servants. Ex. 16:1ff.

In turn, along with the introduction of the Sabbath, a weekly day of rest, Yahweh meets his complaining children’s desperate needs with the remarkable daily provision of manna. Ex. 16:19-36.

Via the staff Yahweh had provided Moses with, God delivers Israel from two fierce enemies; a scarcity of water and the Amalekites. Ex. 17:1ff.

Israel has her first ally on her way from Egypt to her Promise Land, Moses’ father-in-law, apparently an important Midianite priest. Ex. 18:1ff.

Pray for Insight…

Read Passage several times…

Ask Questions…

18:13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.   

Why was Moses judging the people by himself? Isn’t it strange? Why we would not think that 2-3 million people living and traveling together in the desert would not have a myriad of problems? After all they were people just like any other people. What kind of problems were they bringing him? Note: they had no law at this moment in time. They also had no organizational structure outside the tribal leadership.

14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”  

This could not have been fun to sit in this line all day—about like waiting in line at an amusement park on or West Highway 76.

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.   

At least this is God, if they want to know God’s will. Why would Moses know the answer to every situation? Did he pray? Did God answer? Why didn’t God tell him that there was a better way or was God doing that through Moses’ father-in-law?

16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”   

How did Moses know God’s decrees and laws? After all just a short while before, he was just a nomadic shepherd tending his sheep in the desert when he saw the burning bush.

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.   

18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.   

19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.   

20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.   

A huge principle…teach them the decrees. Don’t keep them dependent upon you. Teach them how to think spiritually.

21 But select capable men from all the people –men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain –and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.   

Just like in the army—brigades, regiments, companies and platoons. Why both the hundreds and fifties? This sounds a little redundant.

22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.   

Just like our court system today with its smaller courts and it supreme courts, both state and federal. I like the concept of sharing the load.

23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”  

You won’t crash and they will go home satisfied. For one reason they won’t have to wait all day for a small decision. 

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.   

Why? Why had he not thought of this before? Or had the courage to implement it?

25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.   

26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.   

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.


Who? Moses, judge, the people, father-in-law, God, the parties, representative, capable men, men who fear God, trustworthy men, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, judges, capable men, all Israel, leaders of the people, Jethro.

Where?  Around him, to me, home, from all Israel, on his way, to his own country.

When? The next day, morning till evening, whenever, now, at all times, at all times, then Moses sent his father-in-law.


• Moses takes his seat to judge the people who waited the entire day.

• When Moses’ father-in-law sees this very inefficient and staggering load he asks Moses why?

• Moses responds that the people come to him seeking God’s will in their disputes, and he informs them of God’s decrees.

• Moses’ father-in-law challenges Moses that what he is doing is not good. They will both wear out.

• Moses’ father-in-law suggests to him to teach the people’s God’s laws and show them how to live.

• But first he must select capable, trustworthy men who are not corruptible from the power that they are about to receive.

• Men from all over the nation and appoint leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

• Let them decide the simpler cases and those they can’t, then have them bring them to you.

• You will be able to stand the strain and they will not grow frustrated and tired for having to wait so long.

• Moses implanted his father-in-law’s advice and then sent his father-in-law back on his way home.

Summary…When have one of our first great leadership lessons in the Scriptures: the selection of capable, honest leadership and administration of God’s kingdom. Teach people the law and how to apply it; then select very capable, godly, non-corruptible men to manage the decision making among the Israelites.

Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)

• People are imperfect and not objective and therefore need leaders, rulers, judges, etc. to arbitrate their differences. In other words, as much as we hate to admit it, we need the referees.

• Sometimes we and even good leaders will try to do way too much, rather than delegate or ask for help, perhaps fearing people will turn us down or will not do as good a job as we would.

• There are more problems than we can imagine in the world. People are sinners.

• Jethro affirmed Moses’ ultimate responsibility to represent the people to God. He just gave him a better way to do it.

• Jethro advised and Moses followed through with the selection of capable, godly, non-corruptible men.

• This also has to be built on the foundation of Godly teaching, or a teaching of the underlying principles and foundations. The truth + capable leadership.

• Jethro and Moses also built a pyramidal appellate system for the more difficult cases.

• Jethro stayed long enough to see the system working fine.

• God had a purpose in bringing Jethro to his son-in-law. God uses people to give good counsel to other people.

So What?

2003 Application…

Struggle? Getting all the new Bermuda grass planted, watered and established properly, rocks and all.

Truth? God’s word teaches that via a combination of the theory and delegation, I should be able to accomplish a difficult task.

Application? I have used this system with respect to Sunday mornings, worship, home churches, the Learning Center and constructing our church. Now I am trying to make it work with respect to our Youth, Outreach, Visitor follow-up and assimilation into our Body, Facilities and Grounds, teaching and writing.

Show me how, Lord. Show me how. Show me the way. Give me my Jethro. Show me the light. Send me the help as well as the capable men to help me accomplish your goals for our church. I ask this mercifully in your son’s name.

2014 Update and Application…This is good to reflect back because so often we don’t. We just ignore or forget, but this forces me to ask and answer what did I learn in the intervening twelve years? Are things different? Did things change? How have I changed? Did I change or am I, as I have been noted of saying from time to time, just rearranging the same old furniture or clutter, or did things because of my faith, study and attempt to apply what I was learning change me or my life?

With respect to the grass, it did get planted, and it has been maintained over the years. Without water, the cool season has struggled mightily, and I mean mightily. And actually the warm season Bermuda appears like a motley mess right now. It’s been fertilized, but I am experimenting with NOT killing all the clover, henbit and chickweed, among other intruders. My assumption is that as things heat up, those varieties will die out, and the Bermuda may have more of a chance. But there does seem to be a threaded theme in much of what I do and that is without enough of the resources to get the job done, we get by. It’s not the best, and it’s not the worst. It could be much better, but it ain’t bad. So we continue on, in hopes of one day, who knows? And if not, then it was a great run, and by process of elimination, we learned a lot…a whole lot. Perhaps those behind us will do a better job.

As far as applying all this to my administering the church’s many tasks, I would say it is about the same as my managing the grounds. It could be much better, but it ain’t bad. At least it’s real. There are so many good people taking the initiative to do so many good things, within the body, the community and within their own families, and yet we still have our ministry holes, but at least what we do and who we are is for the most part NOT FAKE. It is the Real McCoy, and as far as heaven is concerned, I think that is far far more important. Our Father knows our maturity and immaturity, and he is present through his Spirit. We are dynamic, meaning NOT static, and what God wants to do with us, is his business and for his glory and purposes. Our responsibility is to seek Him and be obedient to his Spirit’s leadership as best we can. We leave the results and the bigger picture up to God. Amen.

So have I or we changed? Yes. Still making mistakes? Yes. Still learning the fine art of growing healthy sod or sheep? Absolutely. And thank God for his grace, blood, mercy and forgiveness because without it, we would be one self-condemned mess, but with it, we persevere…we grow…we learn…we love…we hope…we strive…we trust…we cry, laugh, grieve, believe, confront, teach, challenge, listen, serve, inspire, forgive, seek to understand and Spiritually influence and our certainly disciplined…we are. We are his beloved children, not based on our own righteousness, but his, and still growing up…


Thanksgiving…Seemingly a wonderfully productive day yesterday. Lots of variety… writing in the morning, pastoral visitation, listening to and loving on older people, finding and figuring out, with some prayerful help, believe it or not, how to get a new mowing belt on the church’s lawnmower, which was not easy due to the belt’s tension, then finishing up mowing the church’s grounds, then coming in late, and after taking a much-needed shower, watching an old tear-jerker WWII propaganda movie, the White Cliffs of Dover, with my wife, and then just having some special time with my wife as we ended our day, as well as, getting to read a chapter of the Washington biography that I am currently reading on…very slowly, which is so incredible, both in research, composition and subject matter. Last night, among other things, I was reading about Washington’s siege of Boston in 1775, with little to zero ammunition and countless obstacles to overcome, including short-term enlistments and a poorly trained New England-militia-based Continental Army. It was good just to read about how even Washington whined privately and how Martha overcame harsh traveling conditions to be with her husband every winter he was away from home commanding a very stretched military, which was every winter. They were two very special individuals. Thanks, Lord, for our day yesterday, and by the way, there have been many special ones here lately. And by the way, I need a lot more of them. There seems to be no end in sight of all that needs constantly attending to. Not only continue to multiply me, make me and those whom you do multiply into your Spiritual workforce better than me…for your kingdom and glory, NOT mine. Heaven forbid!

Struggle…At first, I was wondering how I might reapply the core of this study’s truth? How stupid! This is my life, and I am NOT shepherding three million people through a hostile desert with little tangible provisions in order to reclaim lands from hostile tribes that are NOT going to want to give up what they are currently occupying, and doing all this with very imperfect, stubborn people. Wait, a second! THIS IS MY LIFE!

Truth… It seems nothing has changed. If you want to do something good, you will encounter obstacles, whether by the sheer number as Moses was dealing with or the overwhelming task assigned George Washington in 1775-76 or my life today. You can’t do it alone. But finding, inspiring, recruiting, empowering, shepherding, training, teaching, forgiving, being forgiven, caring for this leadership is still an incredible Spiritual balancing act. Jethro’s main point to Moses here—you can’t do it alone, so organize it, and then and only then, play your much more necessary final appeals role, much like our Supreme Court seems to be the final arbiter legal matters with respect to our own country. Secondly, in a fallen world, mixed with Evil, there will be no shortage or problems or complaints, therefore it can’t be about solving all those completely, but simply managing them fairly and in a timely manner. But as far as problems go, they will never ever completely go away, so therefore, one might as well accept them and seek the Lord’s leadership in dealing with them appropriately, and this includes bringing others along with you in this fight, in this management, in this struggle, and this is how they too grow up and realize their purpose.

Application…As I sit here for just one moment and prayerfully analyze my own leadership style, I find both the good and the bad in it. I think for the long term, I am probably not to bad. In fact, I think I have nurtured, revealed, taught a bit, encourage and empowered lots of potential leader types over the years. And in fact, I would speculate that this really is the church or the shepherds of the flock’s final responsibility…to raise up leaders…people who will make a difference in this world. I know this is how I have felt about my kids, even my wife, and much of my flock. Having a purpose; growing up; making a Spiritually healthy difference in a culture that is quickly and vastly retreating from much of an allegiance to or dependency upon its Maker.

So in the long run, not so bad. But I fear, in the short-run I give too much latitude…that I need to be checking on my undershepherds and leader types more. Why don’t I? Laziness? Fear of finding out things are worse than I thought? Or that someone is done or burned out and I have to go and find their replacement? Not wanting to bother people? Trying to do it by myself? All the typical avoidances and excuses. On the one hand this works out good because it allows people to struggle through challenges without being rescued too quickly. It also exposes people and especially servant-leader types rather quickly. On the other hand, I have got to wonder if some of my sheep or undershepherds are wondering where is this guy? Why is he NOT checking on me? Is he going to check on me? What do I do, if he doesn’t? Do I like this freedom or do I want more accountability, encouragement or help?

God, you know my many pastoral shepherding weaknesses and flaws. I stand open to your correction…your teaching. Lead me to those who need what you want to give them through your servant, including a little extra time and attention.

Your servant,

Joseph M. Cross

Your struggle?



Your struggles?



Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

Exodus 18:1ff Becoming a Friend Indeed 5-10-15

Exodus Studies Pic

Life of Moses
Lesson 30
Becoming A Friend Indeed…
Ex 18:1ff

Introduction…Who is your best friend? Ever had one? Ever lost one? Where did that friend come from? Why were they your best friend? Were you their best friend? What did they bring to the table? What did you bring to the table? Did they help you? How and why? Did you help them? Are you still friends? If so, why? If not, why? Did something occur to damage the friendship? Some betrayal of friendship? Were you sure there was a betrayal or did you presume a betrayal? Or were you the one to betray the friendship? Isn’t it interesting how most typically, it is always someone betraying us that ends the friendship, but if that is true, and we are all the victims, then who are the betrayers? Is betrayal, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Where is God in this divinely-inspired relationship?


Before Jethro can fully help Moses and Moses’ stewardship, he must demonstrate his complete Spiritual loyalty and allegiance to Moses. There is nothing better than two friends who both have a deep reverence for God, or his Son, Jesus Christ. If both love God, then they will act God-like and resolve differences, and as they resolve differences, the Spiritual whole of the relationship will be greater that the sum of its individual parts separated. The Spirit seeks to build unity…true unity, and true unity is no easy thing to achieve, but once achieved, it is difficult to undo.

General Introduction: Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to the forefathers seven centuries before. But their journey is not without its problems. Last week, God via Moses’ staff, delivered the Israelites from two enemies: a lack of water and the fierce Amakelites.

Recent Studies…

Israel sings out its praise to Yahweh of Yahweh God’s delivering Israel from utter annihilation at the hands of Pharaoh’s massive army. Ex. 15:1ff.

After healing Marah’s bitter waters, Yahweh tests Israel with a lasting ordinance—if you keep my laws, I will keep you safe from all the things that the Egyptians feared. Ex. 15:22ff.

Now, with their backs seemingly up against another wall–the wall of daily sustenance in the desert, the whole community rises up to turn its collective fear and complaint towards God’s servants. Ex. 16:1ff.

In turn, along with the introduction of the Sabbath, a weekly day of rest, Yahweh meets his complaining children’s desperate needs with the remarkable daily provision of manna. Ex. 16:19-36.

Last Week: Via the staff Yahweh had provided Moses with, God delivers Israel from two fierce enemies; a scarcity of water and the Amalekites. Ex. 17:1ff.


Read Passage several times…

Ask Questions…

Great Sea Map-Route-Exodus-Israelites-Egypt

18:1 Now 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. 

What do we previously know about the father of Moses’ wife from Ex. 2:16ff? In 2:18, he is called “Reuel” (which means “friend of God’), and in 3:1, he is called “Jethro” (which means “his abundance”), as he is here? Why two different names? Both descriptions have him being a priest of Midian. Who did the Midianites worship or serve? How did they view Yahweh? Did they worship or serve other gods?

2 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons, of whom one was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” 

Does Gershom mean “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”?

4 The other was named Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Does the same apply here to “Eliezer” also… does “Eliezer” mean “my father’s God was my help”? So Moses named both his sons after his past experiences…

5 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mount of God. 

So is Moses being reunited with his family?

6 He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” 

Why such a formal reunion? Was Jethro unsure about Moses now that he had defeated Pharaoh and was leading this incredible expedition away from Egypt and towards the Promise Land? Was he unsure whether Moses would reclaim his wife and children?

Moses reunit wife

7 Then Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent.

With this action, Moses leaves no doubt that he is receiving his Midianite wife and children back.

8 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 befallen them on the journey, and how the Lord had delivered them. 

What a story to have heard…




9 Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. 

10 So Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 

11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.” 

So Jethro is certainly in sympathy with all that Yahweh has done for and with Moses and the children of Israel, which means that in contrast to the fearful and threatened foreign powers, such as the Amalekites, who have just attempted to wage war against Israel, but were defeated, Jethro is clearly throwing in his lot with Moses and the Israelites.

12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

A spiritual treaty between Israel and the powerful Midianite priest Jethro in the presence of God has just been ratified. Israel has her first ally.






• Moses’ father-in-law hears about the incredible and miraculous delivery that Yahweh God has performed for Israel and Moses and clearly decided to reapproach Moses and Israel with Moses’ Midianite family.

• Jethro, after hearing Moses official recounting of all that God had done for Moses and Israel, rejoices in this deliverance, recognizes Yahweh God as the source of this miraculous salvation and celebrates a feast in Yahweh’s honor and in the presence of the elders of Israel and in which Jethro offers a sacrifice to Yahweh God.

Bottom line…Moses’ father-in-law, apparently an important Midianite priest, becomes Israel’s first ally on her way from Egypt to her Promise Land.

Whys? (What truths do I learn about God, people, life or myself?)

• This passage sets the scene for the very next passage in which God will use Jethro to advise Moses on how to more effectively manage his people since one man can’t do a very good job with perhaps millions. It would seem God is validating that God can and does use people we would not necessarily consider insiders to reveal his practical wisdom, but first Jethro must demonstrate his alliance with Moses and Israel and his reverence for Israel’s God, Yahweh, and Jethro, by returning Moses’ children and wife to Moses, as well as listening to Moses’ accounting of God’s deliverance and offering a sacrifice to Yahweh with Israel’s leadership present is clearly Spiritually and politically aligning himself with Israel and his son-in-law. Jethro will pose no threat to Israel. He will not side the pagan foreign nations whose land Israel must travel over to get to their Promise Land, nor the pagan nations in the Land. Jethro is choosing sides and is proving to be a practical and faithful ally to Moses and Israel, something both desperately need as Israel is about to enter, via her mediator, Moses, into her symbolic marriage covenant with her deliverer, Yahweh God. Thus one treaty precedes another.

A nation is being birthed and prepared for her homeland…her place in history and among the earth’s inhabitants. God is doing something very special here, and in Jethro, Yahweh provides for Israel her first and very much needed ally and friend.

So what do we do with this? Loyal friends are important and God can provide them from anywhere. How do we know that they are loyal? Do they come to us? Do they take the time to hear our story? Do they genuinely rejoice in our story of special deliverance and so much so that they worship with us? If so, then you might want to listen to their practical wisdom, as Moses is about to do, because they are the real deal. They are God’s messengers or angels sent to support us.


So What?

Thanksgiving…What a week. Last weekend was amazing with our friend Nancy singing and her willingness to share her very powerful, new and fresh story. It was everything I had hoped for initially six months ago, and then several months ago, when I learned of her Spiritual disability of sorts, much more. Nancy waited and trusted me. I trusted God, and God came exploding onto the scene. After that, lots of counseling, some unexpected. It seems more and more, my job, my gift and my ministry is to help untangle conflicted and confused thinking. I listen, I pray, I help untangle so that people, even if only momentarily, have rest or peace. I also got to write more, finishing up my first draft of the contribution of the general Hebrew word for “love.” I also got some special time with my wife, which I was indeed thankful for. My love, devotion and honor for her grows daily. I am a blessed man.

Struggle…Something is bugging me; not quite sure what it is. Trying to sort through my own conflicted pieces of a God’s divine puzzle. The truth. What does God have in store for me? For Fellowship? For my people? How are we to abide in the vine by trusting the Son’s atonement and learning to love, and especially pray, and allowing the Spirit to shape our consciences as we pray, for others. If our ministry…our abiding, begins with prayer, as Jesus seems to indicate to his disciples in John 15:7 and then John himself reiterates in his letters, then what form should those prayers take, and where will those prayers lead us—all of us?

Truth…We can’t do it alone; we need help. Who will help? Who, how and where will God Almighty raise up others to help us through the massive Spiritual undertaking of learning how to love and pray for others as Jesus loved and prayed for us? He will send us allies. Genuine allies. Those we can trust. If they come, listen, rejoice, worship and throw in their lot with us, especially in the face of constant foe, then they just may be of God, and therefore, invaluable in their wisdom. Such was the case for Moses; may it be the case for us. Send us Jethro’s, Lord. Send us, your Jethro’s.

Application…You have brought help from the unlikeliest of sources, God. Thanks for surprising gifts. Help us to be discerning, but when that discerning is complete, let us more effectively shepherd your desperately needy and searching flock.

Your servant,

Joseph M. Cross

Your struggle?



Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.