People Management in the Wilderness

In my country, I have the privilege of having a Bible in my own language, and have no problem getting my hands on one. God is good.

A few months ago, I realised that I had no excuse not to read this book. I mean, I am a fairly fast reader and 20 minutes a day really isn’t a great cost. So when I go over myself, I committed myself to read the Bible every day. In fact I’m on track to get through the Bible in a year. If you’ve never done this, I’d recommend it. It’s a wonderful discipline and frankly the only discipline I have enough self control to actually put into practice. I follow this reading plan which you can download into your favourite calendar application.

So at the moment I’m halfway through Exodus and loving it. In case you’ve never read the Bible, it’s a thrilling story. Human beings have messed it up big time, But God chooses this guy called Abraham (Genesis 12) and through him decides that all that bad stuff is going to be undone. The part of the story I’m up to now is a few centuries later, when Abraham has become the nation of Israel, who were slaves in Egypt. But God decides to demonstrate his character by saving this nation, and bringing them out of Egypt.

Then they spend a lot of time wondering in the middle of nowhere.

After Egypt, the people are in the wilderness somewhere between Egypt and Palestine.

It’s a great story.

Moses is the hero, who leads the people out of Egypt, who stretches out his hand and parts the sea, who hits a rock and fresh water comes out. He of course became the leader of the people.

But Moses forgets that he’s not the hero of the story. God is.

This guy called Jethro watches Moses judge all the people. Moses decided things for the people when they had an issue. And Jethro, in what must be an almighty flash of common sense, says ‘What you are doing is not good’ (Ex 18:17). Moses is going to burn himself out.

Additionally, nowhere before this point has God actually given the people any laws, yet Moses says he makes known the laws of God.

But this isn’t how it works in God’s community.

Moses gets a bunch of guys he can trust, and sets them up as elders over the people to encourage them to obey God. But what to obey?

The 10 commandments are famously dictated to the people from a mountain top. Why? So that all people would know that God is bigger than one man, God is bigger than our ideas. And he shows that no one gets a special privilege. Everybody gets the chance to hear what God says.

I find it interesting that God gives his laws AFTER Moses sets up these leaders. Literally the next chapter, God speaks to the people.

It’s like God is saying ‘This is me, this isn’t Moses’ ‘I’m your hero, I’m your king, I’m your rescuer and your love.’

The elders and decision makers exist to hold people accountable to a law they have all heard. They don’t get to make it up.

God is so committed to his people that he sets up this system where people can ask questions and have help in applying his laws to their lives. That’s his grace.

I wonder if I have those around me who will encourage me to obey God. It’s not about people telling me their best ideas, but examining the scriptures and honestly holding my life in that light. I ask God for such men and women in my life, and thank God for those he has given me.

People management in God’s community is not about good ideas, but about honestly seeking to obey him in all things.

Glory to his name.

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