Exodus 18.17-23 and Isaiah 30.1-3 – Consulting the will of God
Posted: 17 January 2011 in Exodus, Isaiah

And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee….. I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee….. thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge….. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

In the first of the two passages above Moses’ father in law is making what, on the face of it, a perfectly sensible suggestion. But the thing to notice is that he tells Moses that his suggestion should only be pursued if God commands him to do so. It is not human ingenuity that matters, but the will of God. In the second passage, through the agency of Isaiah, God is complaining about the people’s inveterate tendency to rely upon their own resources, instead of recurring to his will and his wisdom – but most importantly to his will – because we are servants.

Reliance upon God is, of course, a very difficult lesson to learn, but that is one of the reasons we need to read God’s word so assiduously. Over time its message will begin to penetrate our thick skulls, and then, through the Holy Spirit, it will start to inform our actions. But not until our hearts have been reformed, and our motivations changed, will that happen to any great extent.

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