When you meet up with family and friends, what do you talk about … especially when you have not seen these people for many years? Certain things tend to be the norm when we start talking such as sports, work, studies, family, friends, weather, coronavirus, politics, economy and religion. These tend to dominate.
The space of work is a favourite, where one can offload everything one is unhappy with regarding the boss, business, rewards and workload. The progress of the children’s schooling will come up. Either one child has done so well or another’s language teacher is a real problem. The shape of the family and health needs to be spoken about, including sports. The weather is an easy one to complain about, forgetting God provides the weather!
During most of this past year, the coronavirus (COVID-19 or the latest strain) certainly tops the “most spoken about topic list”. This can take a lengthy period of time because one “needs” to speak about America and Mr. Trump’s approach to Covid. Then you need to add Mr. Johnson in the UK because he revoked the 3 family gathering for 5 days over Christmas to only on Christmas Day. A second strain has appeared and is the cause of 60-70% of all new infections. In “tier four” lockdown, you may only mix with people in your own household. But we can’t forget RSA, as the four Covid hotspots are Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, The Eastern Cape and the Garden Route in the Western Cape. The latter two have been officially been declared “hotspots” with additional restrictions in place.
Then the conversation progresses to the three dominant talking points. The first is politics. We might skim the surface about the USA’s election drama that has not fully played out … but politically the focus is our country. Naturally, we will find many issues of unhappiness to discuss about each of the main political parties, from the ruling party to the official opposition to the next in line. This could be heated if the people in the discussion are from different political bases.
The second is the economy or “money matters”. Inflation increases, interest rates drop. The latter could be great for people with debt and terrible for those needing to live off their investments.
The third is religion. This is where we could have a field day pulling various religions or churches apart. The sad thing is that so seldom–if ever–does the conversation move to talking about Jesus! Religion, yes … but Jesus, no!
In Exodus 18 we find two parts to the conversation between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. The first part is from verse 1 to 12. This part sets the platform for the further conversation found in verses 13 to 27. Due to leadership pressure, Moses sent his wife and two sons to live with Jethro. He thought this was a good move because he was so busy … but in reality, it was a bad move because the boys were without a father and his wife Zipporah was without a husband. This is sorted out in the second part. In verses 8-12 we find Jethro and Moses’ conversation so different to what we talk about.
Ex 18:8 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 bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
Did you see that? Moses tells Jethro everything that God 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. What is critical here is that it is unlikely that Jethro is an idolater. He is a descendant of Abraham and knew the true God, but possibly over the years his religion was weak. Now, through Moses’ testimony of God’s amazing grace, deliverance and provision, Jethro understands clearly that Moses’ God is the LORD, greater than all idols. He made a burnt offering and other sacrifices to this God.
Although this section sets the tone for what follows, it’s crucial to see how Moses testifies to the goodness of God to His people, which in turn leads Jethro into a clear understanding of what true religion is because of who the true God is. Did you notice that Moses did not beat around the bush talking about “sport, work, studies, family, friends, weather, corona virus, politics, economy and religion”? He spoke about God and God’s workings (wonders). Why is it that we waste time talking about all the side shows and when it comes to religion … religion is the topic and not Jesus? In this passage of Exodus 18, God puts before us a clear conversation point that He wants us to busy our gatherings with.
When you have the time, read through Exodus 1-17. Here you find the Sovereign God in action. You see how He protects a little baby boy from an evil Pharaoh, only to be raised up in that very Pharaoh’s household. He is educated by the daughter (princess) of the king (Pharaoh). At the age of 40, he flees to Midian, marries Zipporah and becomes a shepherd of the flocks of Jethro. God taught him to care for dumb sheep before he set him free at the age of 80 to care for God’s flock. He is then used by God to demonstrate God’s powers before the court of Pharaoh, but due to the king’s hard heart God sets up an escape plan (chapters 12-14). The deliverance is such that had never happened before in all of history–the closest would be the global flood in Genesis. Then there are the struggles of the desert and the need to depend upon God for every need. Moses tells Jethro all these things. Jethro is ablaze with delight and a renewed understanding of the true God. When we think of God’s mercy at Calvary … the greatest deliverance of all … what do we speak about when we gather with family and friends? Consider the words of the Christians on the road to Emmaus:
Luk 24:32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Dear God, thank You for the way You expose so many things in Your Word to us for our benefit. Father, looking at this passage, help me to talk more about Jesus, His sacrifice and its benefits than frivolous things. Amen.