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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Exodus 18

 

 


Verses 1-22

Giving the Glory to God

Exodus 18:1-22

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

How fittingly does our chapter open: "When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel His people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt," etc.

Whoever recounted unto Jethro the story of Moses and of Israel coming out of Egypt gave God all the glory. Jethro also gave God the glory.

1. Who stood before Pharaoh and said, "Let My people go"? You answer it was Moses. We answer it was Moses sent of God. Moses was no more than the voice of Jehovah. He spoke the words of God. He wrought in the stead of God. God was in Moses commanding that Pharaoh let His people go.

Moses himself had trembled too much, and hesitated too long in a hearty readiness to approach the king of Egypt, to dare to take to himself any of the glory. It was only after God had demonstrated to Moses His power in two miraculous demonstrations that Moses would go at all. It was only when Moses knew that he was merely the voice of God to Pharaoh, and, as such, was backed by all that God was, that he felt assured of any final success in his task. To God was the glory.

2. Who wrought the miracles known as the ten plagues, which were sent upon Pharaoh to force him to let Israel go? Moses knew that he, of his own strength, could never do such wonders and signs. God alone could accomplish all that he wrought. He did it through Moses. Again to God was the glory.

3. Who divided the Red Sea, and made it stand up in a heap? If Moses did it, much less Moses' rod, then another Moses, or man of Moses' power, of our day, could do it. No other man since the time of Moses has ever even tried to cause such a volume of water to part, so that an army could pass through, as by dry land. The reason is plain: Only God could and only God did accomplish such a task once more to God be all the glory.

4. Who carried more than a million men and women and children, with unprecedented goods, through so great a howling wilderness? Who provided the quails, the manna, the water, for their needs? Who stayed the rage of fevers, and caused their sandals not to wear out? Only God could, and only God did do it To God be all the glory. Not one word of praise to Moses for his leadership the glory belonged to God.

5. Whom shall we praise throughout all eternity? We shall gather round the throne of God on high. Our gifts, our service, our everything which we have done in His Name our work and labor of love will not be the theme of rapturous praise. Our all will assume small proportions as we stand before the throne of God and behold His glory, and the riches of all that He hath done for us.

Heaven will give one great and loud acclaim of praise to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, as we voice our heart throbs in that day.

I. "GERSHOM * * AN ALIEN IN A STRANGE LAND" (Exodus 18:3 )

1. The unsaved are aliens to God. There is a Scripture portion in Ephesians 2:1-22 which speaks of the unsaved in no uncertain terms. It says, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."

2. The saved are aliens TO THE WORLD. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were strangers, tent dwellers, having no certain country down here. They were also pilgrims to a City whose Builder and Maker is God. However, they were aliens and strangers and pilgrims amid the people and the things of earth while they were members of Christ and of God.

"I am a stranger here,

Within a foreign land;

My home is far away,

Upon a golden strand;

Ambassador to be

Of realms beyond the sea;

I'm here on business for my King."

We fear that many today would like to change the well-known song quoted above, and sing it thus:

I am a citizen here,

Upon my native land;

My home is here to stay,

Upon this earthy strand;

Ambassador to be

Of realms down here, you see,

I'm here on business for earth's king.

While I am quoting poems, let me quote a poem written by a Western preacher of the old days:

"My rest is in Heaven, my rest is not here;

Then why should I mourn when trials are near?

Be hushed, my tired spirit:

The worst that can come

But shortens my journey

And hastens me Home.

"It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,

And building my hopes, in a region like this;

I look for a City which hands have not piled,

I sigh for a Country by sin undefiled."

II. A HELPER AND A DELIVERER (Exodus 18:4 )

Moses named his first son Gershom, which being interpreted means, "An alien in a strange land." He named his second son Eliezer, which means, He "was mine Help, and delivered me."

1. God is our Helper. When the Ark was brought out of the land of the Philistines, Eleazer was appointed to keep it and guard it from the enemy. Here is a name much like Eliezer.

In those days the Philistines drew near to battle. Then the Lord smote them, and Samuel the Prophet set up a stone, as a sign, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

In Hebrews 13:5-6 , we have the promise of the Father, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee": along with this promise is found the response: "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper."

In Acts 26:22 , we gather the resume of Paul's response to Agrippa. Here are Paul's words, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day."

Surely the Lord will help us in every time of need.

2. God is our Deliverer. How blessed is the song of Psalms 32:7 : "Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." And He does this very thing for us. He puts the song upon our lips when He delivers us from so great a power of darkness.

If God said to Jeremiah, "Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee"; and if God did deliver Daniel from the lions, will He not also deliver us, if we trust in Him?

III. ENCAMPING AT THE MOUNT OF GOD (Exodus 18:5 )

1. The mount of God stands for fellowship with God. "He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." Up above the din of the crowd; up in the heights of those higher and holier things; up, alone with the Lord, in fellowship sweet and abiding. That is the place for you and for me.

2. The mount stands for transfiguration. "As He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered." So will our faces be altered, if we will withdraw in the heights, alone with the Lord. You remember the words of Miss Havergal, "And when e'er you leave the fragrance of that blessed, hallowed place; you must mind to bear the image of the Master in your face."

3. The mount stands for vision. "They saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him." If we expect to see the things of God, we must go to the heights where He dwells in the beauty of His holiness.

It is not enough to be there, but to be awake and alert to see Him. We love the verse which runs like this, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory."

4. The mount is the place of instruction. Jesus took His disciples and "went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them."

There is, then, no place more precious unto us than the mount of God. There we can hear words such as no man ever spoke. We can hear Him even now, on the mount, as He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

IV. TRAVAILING BY THE WAY (Exodus 18:8 )

"And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had; come upon them by the way."

1. It is given unto saints to suffer. Christ never promised to His followers a pathway strewn with roses.

"The thorns and the thistles around me may grow,

I would not He down on roses below;

I ask not a portion, I seek not a rest

Till I find them forever, on Jesus' breast."

The Lord said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." He said again, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." The Lord hath called us out of the world: that is why the world hates us.

For this cause, let us not think it strange concerning the fiery trials which may befall us. This is part of our calling.

2. After the suffering comes the glory. The Lord Jesus travailed that children might be born. What then? "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."

We, too, shall be satisfied. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Is it not recorded "If we suffer (for Him), we shall also reign with Him"?

Listen to the Holy Spirit: He says, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while."

Beyond doubt there is travail by the way. However, at the end of the way there is life, and light, and joy forevermore.

"Affliction may damp me, but cannot destroy;

One glimpse of His love, turns them all into joy;

And the bitterest tears, if smiles but on them,

Like dew in the sunshine, turns diamond or gem.

Come joy, or come sorrow, whatever befall,

One hour with the Saviour will make up for all."

V. THIS THING IS TOO HEAVY FOR THEE (Exodus 18:18 )

1. All spiritual tasks are too heavy for us apart from God. Moses was undertaking a titanic task, enough to strain the powers of any man. Jethro, his father-in-law, saw this at a glance. He said to Moses, "Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone." This may often be true, for physical reasons.

Let us, however, look at our service from another angle. We, as believers, are sent to accomplish those things which demand the special anointing of the Lord. We cannot preach as we ought, pray as we ought, give as we ought, live as we ought, sing as we ought; in fact we cannot do anything in the realm of the spiritual as we ought, if we are leaning upon our own strength.

2. We can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us. Yes, we mean all things that the Spirit demands, all things that God requires or asks us to do. Have we not His blessed promise, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."

Did not the Lord say, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go, * * and, lo, I am with you"?

What then? Shall we try to do His work in our own strength? We cannot.

3. Nothing is too hard for God. We cannot: God can. It is a task too heavy for us, but the task is nothing to Him. "I know that Thou canst do all things."

VI. BE THOU FOR THE PEOPLE TO GODWARD. (Exodus 18:19 )

1. There is special ministry given to saints. It is a ministry where there is real need. Man's knowledge of those things which concern man may be ever so acute, while his knowledge of God may be weak indeed. Great men among the world may be ever so wise in earthly lore, and yet be ignorant as children in the things of God.

It is written, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14-15 ).

The ministry, therefore, that believers have from God, is a spiritual ministry. We are to proclaim those things which belong to the realm of faith the Divine things,

2. The ignorance of the populace is the root of the need of our being unto them to Godward. In our tour of India we found among the people as a whole, such an appalling ignorance of things Divine. Even in the things that should have been known of them, such as His eternal power and Godhead, they were blind. There they were, bowing down with abject ignorance to gods of wood and iron and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know. Those same people, however, in many cases were truly intellectual. They were far from untaught in the things of men. They excelled in many things. Both in knowledge and in workmanship they were at the top. With all that, their foolish minds were darkened to Godward. Let those whose hearts the Lord hath opened go forth to preach the things of God.

VII. PROVIDE ABLE MEN (Exodus 18:21 )

1. Provide able men. Men who are able to wield the sword? No. Men who are taught in the best schools of the land? No. Men who are able in the world of physical prowess? No.

Who are able men, whom the church may choose to put over the Lord's business? To the Word and the Testimony. Here is what the Lord said about the selection of the first set of seven, who were needed to look after the business of the church: "Wherefore, brethren, look, ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."

2. Provide men that fear God. It is not a question of appointing popular men; We need men who fear God. Shall the church seek out from among the world citizens who are great and noble, or shall they hold themselves strictly to men who know God and fear Him? We believe and are sure that the unregenerate have no place whatsoever in the service of the Lord. Men who do not fear the Lord cannot acceptably serve Him.

3. Provide men of truth, hating covetousness. We need not only true men, but men who are of the truth. How well did John, in the Spirit, write of those who walk in the truth! Not only must we have men of truth, but men void of covetousness. The servants of the Lord, who represent Him in places of authority and power, must not be men who serve their own selfish desires.

We can, even now, seem to see the Spirit writing about the selection of bishops: "A bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught."

AN ILLUSTRATION

Until we realize the glory of God we will never be able to appreciatively glorify Him.

The glorious Name which Jehovah here (Genesis 17:1 ) assumes is literally El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, "the God who is enough" as Matthew Henry happily translates it. The great question that determines the magnitude of every life is the kind of God we have. The man who has a limited God will have a limited experience. The man who has caught the vision of El Shaddai will live up to that glorious standard. Let us not look so much at ourselves and try to pull ourselves up to a higher plane, as someone has said, by our bootstraps, but let us look up to the God who is calling to us from on high, until, like a mighty magnet, He attracts us to His own transcendent plans. It was the revelation and realization of God that made Abraham the great discoverer of new worlds of faith and vision, the Christopher Columbus, as someone has said, of spiritual discovery. Beloved friend, how large a God have you? Abraham's God was sufficient to enable him to give up his home, country, and earthly prospects and go forth to a new world with nothing but God. * * Abraham's God was sufficient to enable him once more to renounce and let go all present earthly prospects when the selfishness of Lot demanded the best of Abraham's inheritance. Instead of wrangling with his unworthy nephew, Abraham let Lot take his choice and kept what he left. And then God came to him that night and told him that all the land, including Lot's portion, should be his inheritance forever. A. B. Simpson.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Exodus 18:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/exodus-18.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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