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Exodus 18:1-12, Jethro Meets with Moses

Monday, June 4

Honoring Elders

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

respecting our elders

When Moses fled from Egypt because he had murdered an Egyptian, Jethro took him in. Jethro was a priest of Midian, a land between Egypt and the promised land. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham's son, Midian. Jethro gave Moses his daughter, Zipporah as his wife. When God called Moses to travel to Egypt to free the Israelites, Jethro kept Zipporah and their sons, Gershom and Eliezer in Midian until Moses would return. After the exodus, word reached Jethro that Moses and the Israelites were wandering the wilderness near Midian, so he took his family to meet Moses. Jethro would stay with Moses from then on, becoming an adviser to Moses as he helped God establish the law.

Jethro was one of the first elders to help govern the people of Israel, as he had Moses' ear. In the west, we have a culture of worshiping youth, sometimes viewing our elders as a drain on resources, an annoyance, or even disposable. But there are many cultures that revere their elders. Elders are consulted for their wisdom and honored as members of society that have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the richness of their culture. They are cared for by families and the greater community. They are seen as the head of the family. 

How are elders considered in your community? What might your congregation do to honor elders? What could you do in your personal life to revere and respect your elders?

Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 18:1-12

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been an alien in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses’ sons and wife to him. He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.”

Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians. Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.” And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and 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.