Jethro's Discernment

"Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly." (Exodus 18:11)

Jethro's Discernment


April 15, 2018


When you were searching for names for your children some of you may have consulted books that contain names for newborns. Elaine and I did. However, we were searching for names for our girls. I don't remember coming across Jethro even as I flipped through the pages and I don't know hardly anyone with the name Jethro.


In today's Scripture, we can see a different Jethro than we traditionally heard inside the church. Today, I want us to think of Jethro in a little different way. I want us to think of him as a man who possessed discernment. Now, there are two definitions of discernment I want to share with you. There is the dictionary definition of discernment. That definition is "the ability to judge well." (Oxford Dictionary)


Then, there is the biblical definition of discernment:

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)


Biblical scholar, James MacArthur defines biblical discernment: He says, "In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically." (James MacArthur)


Jethro seems to have possessed this ability.  This is an example of his discernment:

"Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly." Jethro's response was based on hearing Moses' description of what God had done for his people. Moses undoubtedly told him about the plagues God used to free his people from Egypt, God's deliverance of them through the sea, God's being a light for them in the dark desert, his being a pillar of cloud in that same desert by day, his being their supplier of water when they were dying from thirst, his being a supplier of bread when they were starving from lack of food in their journey through the desert, and other ways God had blessed them in their many troubles. So, Jethro's statement seems to be one of discernment.


He showed discernment saying God is greater than all other gods. He said this when others failed to say it. The fact is the Egyptians, the Amalekites, and to some extent the Israelites didn't get it or grasp what God had done. They saw firsthand the absolute power of God when he opened the sea and the people crossed it on dry ground. They were right there to behold this miracle. They were right there to see God save them from dying in the desert. Yet, in each and every trial the Israelites encountered, instead of espousing as Jethro that God is greater than all other gods, they grumbled, complained, whined, and behaved like spoiled brats. Then, Jethro who didn't witness any of God's display of absolute power in Egypt and the desert, he only hears from Moses what God did to rescue the Israelites and he responds with praise to God and says these wonderful words:

"Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly."


There is a great message here for us today. Are you a discerning person? Do you judge well? Do you know truth from error, and right from wrong? Or are you naive about spiritual matters? Do you think about what God is doing in the world? Do you discern what God has done for you so far? Do you discern where your blessings come from daily? Do you discern how good God is to you day in and day out?


How good would you say you are in discerning Almighty God from so called other gods? Do you really know the true God from other gods? Can you truthfully say as Jethro said, "Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods?"


Also, Jethro showed discernment by expressing praise for God for bringing the Israelites through hardships. "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." (Exodus 18:8)


So, Jethro praise was not only for this deliverance of the Israelites but also for bringing his people through hardships. What discernment! He apparently knew as Moses did that God is the one who brings people through hardships. Their hardships were many. Yet, God rescued them. That's still happening. My God is still doing it. Just last week I met a man, Dan, whom I hadn't see for a while. He greeted me as he usually does and told me that he and his, Bobbie, had had a rough year. That's how he referred to the woman who was with him. He knew I noticed his face looked differently. So, he told me that his doctors had found cancer in his right jaw. It had spread throughout his jaw, so they took out his whole jaw. They then took bone from one of his shoulders. I don't know if Dan is a Christian. But I was very thankful that God had chosen to bring him through his hardship as well as his Bobbie who I learned I fallen and had gotten a hip replacement.


Hardships are part of living. But we need God as did the Israelites to handle most, if not all of them. Some hardships scar and limit our living for life; some hardships take all our joy; some hardships destroy us from being our old selves. But God can bring us through our hardships. Jethro shows us that by what he said to Moses in that tent meeting when he said, "Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly." Amen.


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