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The Gospel According to Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:08
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If you have your Bible (and I hope you do), please turn with me to Exodus 18. Exodus 18 begins on Page #113 of the Red Pew Bible in front of you. If you are able and willing, please stand with me for the reading of God’s Holy Word, out of reverence for Him. Exodus 18, beginning in verse 1:
Exodus 18:1–12 NIV
1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.” 7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them. 9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of His Holy Word!
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Jethro sounds a little Beverly Hillbilly-ish, doesn’t it? Jethro Bodine. We don’t know this Jethro’s last name (I doubt it was Bodine, but you never know). In Exodus chapters 2-4, Jethro shows up. He’s introduced to us as Moses’ father-in-law and also referred to as a priest of Midian.
In other words, Jethro is Moses’ family and Jethro belongs to another religion. He’s a priest—the priest of Midian. In Exodus 2, it says he is a priest of Midian. Here in Exodus 18, it says he is the priest of Midian. It’s possible this means nothing, but it could mean he’s been promoted to the high priest of the Midianite religion.
Now, the chances any of us are in the same situation as Moses are slim-to-none, probably none. I know for a fact none of your in-laws are priests of Midian; but I also know that we likely have family members who belong to another religion (or to no religion at all).
Jethro does not believe in Yahweh; he does not believe in the God of Israel.
But he’s come to hear from Moses about all the things the God of Moses has done for Moses and his people.
This is that opportunity many of us dream about: to be able to speak to our non-believing loved ones about our Lord and Savior at their request; to have a chance to speak with them and share with them everything the Lord has done for us.
Don’t you pray for that chance, that opportunity? If you don’t, you should. Pray the Lord opens that door, pray the Holy Spirit makes them curious about everything God is doing in your life.
Jethro heard about everything God had done for Moses and the people of Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
A Holy Spirit-induced curiosity. A God-given opportunity for Moses to share His faith in the One, True, and Only God.
>You remember, after 40 years on the family farm, Moses goes to his father-in-law and says,
Exodus 4:18 NIV
18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”
At this, Moses takes his wife and children and heads to Egypt:
Exodus 4:20 NIV
20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
In our text for today—Exodus 18—we see that Moses sent his wife and children back to Jethro.
When this happened and why this happened, we don’t know.
Many people assume that Moses sent his family away before the exodus took place, possibly for safekeeping.
The other possibility is that Moses sent Zipporah to see her father after the Israelites came near the mountain of God which wouldn’t have been far at all from where Jethro lived.
Some think that when verse 2 says Moses sent away his wife, it’s speaking about divorce. That verb (sent away, shalach) can be used as a technical term for divorce.
So, was Moses afraid of what would happen to Zipporah and his two sons in the whole plague-exodus drama? I don’t think so.
Did Moses divorce his wife and send her away? I don’t think so. Those who think he did divorce her are merely speculating. Verses 5 and 6 of Exodus 18 refer to Zipporah as Moses’ wife, still.
The most likely scenario is this:
Moses and his wife and kids went through the whole ordeal in Egypt and beyond, into the desert together (plagues, passover, exodus, searching for food and water) and then, when they were back in the neighborhood, Moses sent his wife and kids to visit their family. “Honey, take the kids to see their grandpa. Tell your family “Hello!” from me. I’ll stay here and hold down the tent.”
>After their visit, Zipporah and the kids, along with Jethro came to Moses (vv. 5-6).
Apparently word of Israel’s triumph had started to spread. Certainly when Zipporah and Gershom and Eliezer showed up at Jethro’s house, they told the story of their miraculous rescue. So when Jethro heard all this, knowing that Moses was in the neighborhood, he wanted to hear the whole story, and decided to accompany Zipporah and kids on their way back to Moses.
Here is Moses’ opportunity to share the gospel with his father-in-law. Gospel is not an OT word; it’s a NT word that means “Good News”. It’s the word euangelion, where we get the word evangelism. Evangelism is sharing the Good News. If you’re an evangelical, it means that you believe and are committed to the Good News.
Moses is going to share the Gospel, the Good News about the Lord’s salvation. He’s going to do some one-to-one evangelism with Jethro.
Moses knew Jethro very well. Jethro is his father-in-law. Moses worked for Jethro, tending the flock of Jethro for some 40 years. They were well-acquainted; they were friends, family.
But Jethro had never come to faith in the God of Israel. Moses was still the priest of Midian, the servant of a pagan god.
Jethro’s unbelief is confirmed in verse 11 when he says, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods...”
Jethro assumed, up until this point in Exodus 18, that Yahweh was Israel’s God, but was merely their tribal deity, the personal God of the Israelites, like the rest of the gods that Jethro and his people worshipped.
Jethro had not yet come to believe in the one and only true God who provides the one and only true way of salvation.
He was like many people today who think that all religions are more or less equal. Those who encourage others to “worship any way you like, as long as you mean it. God won’t mind.”
The trouble and the truth is that God does mind. There is salvation found in no one else. To worship another is to worship falsely.
God sent Jesus into the world as the one and only savior.
Acts 4:12 NIV
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
This is why Christians carry such a heavy burden for the salvation of their family members.
We believe that Jesus is the only way to God. We believe that unless we trust in Him—and Him alone—we will be separated from God forever.
The decision people make about Jesus Christ marks the difference between life and death.
More than anything else in the whole world, we want our spouses, our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, our friends and relatives to know Jesus Christ, finding salvation in Him.
Jethro had not yet come to believe in the one and only true God who provides the one and only true way of salvation.
Jethro didn’t believe in Yahweh, the God of Israel, the One True God. And Moses was not okay with that. Moses was not content to let Jethro go on serving a false god. Moses was not okay with Jethro worshipping another.
It’s clear that Moses loves Jethro.
(Verse 7): Moses goes out to Jethro, bows down out of respect for him, and kisses him out of love for him.
The two men greet one another: “Hey, how are you? Long time! So good to see you!”
Moses loves Jethro. This is clear. He respects Jethro, obviously. Motivated by love and respect for Jethro, knowing that the Lord has brought Jethro to him at this moment, Moses seizes the opportunity.
They greeted each other and then went into the tent.
Moses loves Jethro enough to speak the truth. To speak the truth in love is hard to do. But, if we truly love people, we will speak the truth.
It is not loving to allow someone to continue down the wrong path. It’s the opposite of love to condone behavior and belief which will lead to one’s eternal separation from God.
Moses has to share the truth with Jethro because Moses loves him.
And so Moses does:
Exodus 18:8 NIV
8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
We don’t have Moses’ speech or testimony recorded here in Exodus 18, but we can pretty well guess that Moses preached to Jethro the same message that he later wrote down as Scripture (the book of Exodus).
He probably reminded his father-in-law of the 430 years of slavery the people of Israel suffered. I bet Moses told Jethro how stubborn Pharaoh was, and how his insistence that Pharaoh let the people go only made things worse for the people:
“Boy, were they mad at me, Pop! They had to make bricks without straw! Can you imagine? I’d want to kill me, too!”
Then Moses would tell about how the Lord displayed His power and delivered His people with mighty acts of judgment. Signs and wonders—rivers of blood, swarms of insects, piles of frogs, hailstorms, darkness, death of their firstborn.
You know Moses spoke about their redemption—the Passover, the blood of the lamb. He recalled through tears how God brought His people through the deep waters of the sea.
Maybe Moses even sang the song of salvation so Jethro could hear it: “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.”

Proclamation

Verse 8: Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done...
Told is the Hebrew word “se-pher (סָפַר, 5608).” Moses told, that is he was “numbering, counting” everything the Lord had done for him. “Let me tell you about this, and this, and this, and this.”
Moses told, that is he was “proclaiming, declaring” everything they’ve witnessed, everything they’ve been through, all the victories they’ve been part of.
Moses shares everything the Lord had done. He shares about all the hardships they had met along the way. He shares how the Lord had saved them.
This is effective evangelism. It’s not just the truth; it’s the whole truth. It’s not just the good stuff, but all the stuff. Good and bad.
This is crucial. Otherwise our sharing rings hollow. If we only share our blessings, our praises, if we only share the happy moments, people who have lived life in the real world will know we’re masking-over something; they’ll know we’re covering-up the bad stuff, skipping the hard stuff.
And there’s no reason mask-over or cover-up or skip that. In fact, I’ve found that sharing the whole, unvarnished truth about life and how God is good and faithful through the worst of it is a much better way to share.
Share about the struggles, the temptations, the worst moments of your life.
When I share my faith, I’ll tell people about the blessing of being raised in the church, raised by faithful parents, raised to love Jesus. I’ll share about the joy of serving Jesus throughout the United States and in Mexico; the joy of being called to full-time vocational ministry.
And I’ll share about how hard and painful ministry can be, about how my first full-time ministry was an absolute nightmare, a terrible experience, about the depression and downward spiral that followed my resignation. I felt my life was a complete waste; I wanted to die. It was truly the worst moment in my life.
And then I can say with complete honesty and total transparency that the Lord saved me from all of it.
My life has not been all rainbows and fairy tales and puppy dog kisses. There have been moments of deep darkness, seasons of sinful and selfish behavior.
But even through the worst of it, even through all that, the Lord was good and faithful and present. He put a great counselor in my path. He surrounded me with His people. He blessed me beyond all measure with a godly wife who loves me in spite of me. He placed me here in Rich Hill and shows Himself to be good, good, really good.
We have to share the full story, just like Moses. In your evangelism, as you share your faith, share your sorrows, share your joys; tell them about your shortcomings and failures, tell them about the hard stuff: loss, cancer, tragedy, doubt, depression.
Share your difficulties and your deliverances.
Exodus 18:8 NIV
8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
Such was Moses’ proclamation. Moses proclaims the gospel, the good news about what God had done, and this leads to:

Delight

Exodus 18:9 NIV
9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.
Defeat of a superpower was notable. After listening to Moses, Jethro knew that the Lord God—Yahweh—had not only defeated the Egyptians (the most powerful people in the world), but that the Lord had also defeated their many gods (false as they were).
Jethro knew that this was the Lord. It couldn’t have possibly been that the Israelites beat the Egyptians; it must have been the Lord. And that’s precisely what Moses tells him.
By the Lord’s hand, tiny, insignificant, defenseless Israel escapes the strong hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. By the Lord’s hand, the people of Israel are victorious over the Amalekites. By the Lord’s hand, the unexpected happens.
That’s a delightful story.
Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done.
Jethro, the priest of Midian, is finding joy in what the Lord Yahweh has done. The Lord, and the proclamation of what the Lord has done, makes glad a pagan priest.
Jethro is happy in the Lord. Jethro finds joy in the Lord. The priest of Midian is rejoicing in Yahweh.
This is no small thing. Gospel proclamation leads to delight and then to:

Praise

Exodus 18:10 NIV
10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.
Praise is the result of Jethro’s faith. When Jethro says, “Praise be to the Lord” he’s calling God by His covenant name—Yahweh. Jethro had come to know the true God by His true name.
Then Jethro comes forth with his profession of faith:
Exodus 18:11 NIV
11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”
Jethro has come to faith in God. He is converted. God saved Israel for His own glory and the Lord’s glory is celebrated and ever more magnified when His people share this news. Pagans are converted. Those enslaved to false religion are freed, and they praise the Lord.
Jethro is priest of Midian no more. He is a servant of the One True God. He knows that God is supreme. There is no God like Yahweh. There is no one like our God.
Gospel proclamation leads to delight, to praise, and to:

Worship

Exodus 18:12 NIV
12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
How would someone show they had converted to faith in the Lord?
They’d begin to worship God according to their best understanding of how that should be done. So here, Jethro brings a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God.
They’d make fellowship with God’s people a priority and understand its value. Jethro eats a covenant meal with the other worshippers of Yahweh. This happens in the presence of the Lord.
This is the formal admission of Jethro into Israel, into the people of God. Aaron and the other elders of Israel share a meal with their new brother.
Through the faithful testimony and proclamation of His people, the Lord is bringing people from all nations into His family. “So that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth” was God’s stated purpose for the Exodus.
And here, with Jethro, we see the start of this proclamation which ultimately leads this man to worship the One True God.
________________________
Gospel proclamation leads to faith in the Lord.
Now, this doesn’t happen every time the gospel is proclaimed. It’s not as simple as “proclaim the gospel and, abracadabra, they will believe!” It doesn’t always happen like that.
But I can guarantee you that faith in the Lord will never come apart from Gospel proclamation.
Romans 10:14 NIV
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
They can’t and won’t hear the Good News unless we go to them and tell them.
We, as His Church, as His people must proclaim the Good News about what God has done for us. We have to tell those around us about Jesus. This is our missionary mandate.
Matthew 28:19–20 NIV
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must preach, proclaim, share that there is only one way to be saved: by faith in Jesus Christ.

We are simultaneously the most inclusive and exclusive people of all time.
The Good News is for every kind of person—there is no one excluded. No matter a person’s past, no matter their skin color, their nationality, their last name, or anything else—the Good News is available to every kind of person.
But, there is only one way to be saved. There is one narrow road that leads to salvation. It’s through Jesus, and Jesus alone, that people can be saved.
But here’s the wonderful, amazingly good part of this Good News: God will use us, imperfect as we are, to share this Good News. And God will save, by His grace, those who are far off. He will save even a priest of Midian, pagan as they come. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roman Catholics, Buddists and Hindus and Muslims will be converted to faith in Christ.
It happens and it’s happening all over the world.
Imagine having the opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with the Mormons on Park Avenue or with the Jehovah’s Witness who come knocking on your door or the well-meaning Catholic. Imagine sharing with them and watching the Lord save them. Imagine seeing them glad in Jesus, trusting Only Him.
Work toward and long for the day when we will be gathered around the throne of God, worshipping and praising the name of Jesus alongside a mixed multitude of believers—some of whom we shared Jesus with.
What a day, what a glorious day that will be!
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