Exodus High Lights: Yitro’s Conversion; the Progression of a “Believer in the Making”
— What does ‘believer’ mean today? What does it mean when one says ‘I am a believer’? What should a ‘believer’s’ life look like?
[Numbers 25;16 HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying: 17 “Harass the Midianites and smite them; 18 for they harassed you through their conspiracy which they conspired against you…..
Numbers 25;1 Israel settled in Shittim and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the feast of their gods; the people ate and prostrated themselves to their gods. ]
The Torah portion of Yitro (Jethro) accounts for us the transformation of an ‘idolater’ into a ‘believer’.
Yitro is not just a simple participant in the idolatrous worship and practice of Midian, he is a Midianite KOHEN- one officiating, a priest. This factor makes his conversion all the more revolutionary.
—Some history on Yitro:
The Talmud in (Sotah 11a) tells us that Pharaoh had three advisers: Yitro, Iyov and Bilaam. When Pharaoh was deciding the most prudent method to exterminate the Jewish people, he sought the opinion of each of his three advisers.
Bilaam, the grandson of Lavan, was an evil man and relished the prospect of eradicating the Jewish people. It was he who advised Pharaoh to kill the male Israelites.
Iyov was opposed to any plan to destroy the Jewish nation. Rather than display his true feelings on the issue, he refrained from offering any opinion. Perhaps he knew that his objections would be met with resistance. He most likely rationalized that he could do more to help the plight of the Jewish people at a later date by remaining in his position as advisor. As a result, he decided not to oppose or accept Bilaam’s proposal, but remained silent.
Yitro, on the other hand, vocally rejected Pharaoh’s idea of exterminating the Jewish people. Yitro believed it was wrong that these people should be made to suffer for no crime other then being Jewish. Yitro’s loud protests angered Pharaoh and Yitro had to flee Egypt in order to save his life.
–Based on the Talmud we now understand why Yitro is where he is and we know a little more about him. Despite his idolatrous walk there is something within him which not only hearkens to the ‘voice’ of morality but sacrifices his own ‘security’ in a type of obedience to it.
(ESV) Ephesians 1;3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
-I believe that God has chosen in advance those who are ‘His’, many of these do not realize it even now. I believe this was the case with Yitro, God had called him even while he was in Egypt and had been working in him over all this time. God set it upon his heart to protest the murder of the Jewish people and for this he was exiled. From this place of exile we can consider all the while he wondered, sought word, evaluated
and considered everything that was going on. I believe Yitro had “ears to hear”.
Exodus 18;1 Jethro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, heard everything that God did to Moses and to Israel, His people- that HASHEM had taken Israel out of Egypt. 2 Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, took Zipporah, the wife of Moses, after she had been sent away; 3 and her two sons: of whom the name of one was Gershom, for he had said, “I was a sojourner in a strange land”; 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer, for “The God of my father came to my aid, and He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.
–Yitro SHAMA- to hear intelligently (with the implication of attention, obedience)…. all that the Lord had done in Egypt. He had more reason than ever to have been attentive to the fate of the Children of Israel for his daughter is now bound in marriage to their leader, Moshe. He is paying attention and for a believer or a “believer in the making”, this is the first step. As our concern for life begins to advance beyond out own personal and self- centralized borders we are already inching toward finding out God destined place for us and our role in the world that He created.
(NAS) Matthew 5; 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Exodus 18;5 Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, came to Moses with his sons and his wife, to the wilderness where he was encamped, by the Mountain of God. 6 He said to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, have come to you, with your wife and your two sons with her.”
–Yitro could have had many reasons for coming to the Wilderness of Sinai and to Moshe. Perhaps he wanted to see for himself if the report he had been given was true. Perhaps he wanted to reunite a husband with his wife, or children with their father. To make peace and promote unity in a household. Perhaps he wanted the chance experience the God of wonders. What we do know is that upon hearing, Yitro comes. Yitro leaves his position, all his duties, responsibilities, comforts, his home, his people to journey into the wilderness and meet the Children of Israel and their God. Once that seed of wondering, listening, wanting to know takes hold…it should be only a matter of time before a believer or a “believer in the making” steps out into the journey to understanding. If one is destined to a calling, there will be movement…change, however slight, yielding one’s own comforts and habit’s for the direction where God is beckoning from.
Exodus 18;7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he prostrated himself and kissed him, and each inquired about the others well-being; then they came to the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law everything that HASHEM had done to Pharaoh and Egypt for Israel’s sake- all the travail that had befallen them on the way- and that HASHEM had rescued them.
–Yitro has heard, wondered, sought by movement and now he inquires. He probes, examines, investigates the well begin of Moshe and the people…thereby seeking the driving force behind all that has come to pass, he is seeking the God of Israel and he finds Him in Moshe’s testimony. We have the very same testimony in which we can trust it is a testimony which points, guides and identifies our Messiah Yeshua on every page…this testimony is the Torah of truth the divine heart of our King scribed by the hand of Moshe. Moshe testifies to Yitro about everything that the Lord had done for Israel’s sake and the rescuing did not stop in the land of Egypt…the provision of the Lord has been evident ever since they set foot into the wilderness. This testimony is not only appealing to Yitro but it is convicting…life shattering, enough to blast away the once secured pieces of a heart of stone. This is why it is so important for believers to be in the word and “believers in the making” to be immersed and inducted into the word from start to finish, we should be presenting the trustworthy testimony of our King (with our own life experiences only for background effect)
and allowing this precious seed to take root deep inside. Jethro see’s in the testimony of Moshe a God full of mercy and forgiveness, Jethro see’s God’s grace as rescuer and provider for the Children of Israel and he realizes that he too can find this grace, forgiveness, mercy, provision, redemption, freedom.
(NIV) Psalm 19;7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.12But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
Exodus 18;9 Jethro rejoiced over all the good that HASHEM had done for Israel, that He had rescued it from the land of Egypt. 10 Jethro said, “Blessed is HASHEM Who has rescued you from the hand of Egypt and from the hand of Pharaoh, Who has rescued the people from under the hand of Egypt. ”
–Jethro has come to the point of realization that with the One God of Israel there is much to delight in. What a blessed thing from the depths of idolatry in Egypt, adopted pagan practices over which he apparently officiated…from a position of leadership in a heathen culture, he has been called by the One God Who desires that every sinner and wicked man turn from his ways and repent, finding life. The reigns of his heart were grasped by God and all the while we have seen a level of morality and Godly intuition within Yitro as he stands up to Pharaoh on behalf of Israel, parts with his comfort zone to help restore a family and seek out God, he actively seeks and physically moves and now he rejoices. He rejoices for Israel and he glorifies their Master! This is the next progression which should take place in the life of a believer or a “believer in the making”, it is the attachment to the delightful, and blessed chosen covenant people of HASHEM, the Jewish people, and to the Land of Israel which HASHEM has chosen to place His Name forever. This connection is essential and pivotal for all believers; our delight in them as they are enabled by God to shower light, life, progression, restoration over the entire world and all peoples…also our compassion, deliberation and empathy for Israel as we really look at their persecution and the prejudices poured out over them (by the spirit of the Anti-christ, the one opposed to the promises of God which Israel’s very existence proclaims!). Yitro’s joy in the people, their freedom, their nationhood, their King and His hand of redemption and rescue and CLAIM over them is the picture of a heart turned toward the heart of their God, and ready to become attached to Him and His prescribed covenant walk.
(KJV) Romans 12;15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
(NKJV) Isaiah 60;10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;11 That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.”12 For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees.13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
I John 1;5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
–Jethro is now taking a very serious step which every believer and “believer in the making” should recognize as a binding contract with the Just Judge of all creation. Yitro at this point confesses. All the false gods and idolatry he once served have become revealed to be nothingness and naught. He divulges that which has been revealed to him through this process, his conversion, through the various means of transformation discussed…he confesses that the God of Israel is greater than all (QOWL-the whole). For a believer this confession should mean more than mere words, this should be the point at which everything changes. As we denounce our former selves by fixing ourselves to the Lord in this verbal promise and vow we can not continue to behave in any way that would adhere our identity to the former ways of our flesh. This process can take a lifetime, this conviction sometimes is only found at the end of a rocky and meandering trail…if one does not grasp its significance upfront. In covenant making there is always blood, Yeshua sealed the “New Covenant” (New Covenant= The Torah will be written on the heart of every man attached to the house of Judah and the house of Israel, see Jeremiah 31;30-33) with the most highly valued blood, the only life with enough worth and stock to take purchase, ransom, redeem every soul who ever was, that is and which may still come into existence. Yeshua’s blood was spilled that he might nail to the stake he hung from the decree held against us by the adversary…our guilt, for our willful sin. Through his death, payment was made…through his resurrection proof, affidavit was given that we too will be raised by his hand and given the chance to stand before him and ask that he graciously give us a place prepared to serve him for eternity. He will only recognize us, know us…if we have really understood what it means to ‘confess Jesus’ and have lived our lives with accountability to this confession.
Exodus 18;12 Jethro the father-in-law of Moses, took a burnt-offering and feast-offerings for God; and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with the father-in-law of Moses before God.
–Temple Service and the Sacrificial System is widely misunderstood in the body of believers. There were many different types of offerings for many different purposes. The word Korban (offering or sacrifice) means to DRAW NEAR. The majority of the offerings that were brought by the people in the Mishkan- Tabernacle (although we clearly see the ‘Torah and sacrificial system’ was in place prior to Sinai, because Abel knew the acceptable offering to bring, Noach offered clean animals post Flood, etc.) were elevation and feast-peace offerings. Elevation offerings were completely burnt, of no ‘benefit’ to any man just simply an act of worship. Peace offerings were also an act of worship and thanksgiving but they were shared by the offerer and among the acting Kohanim. There was NO offering for WILLFUL and rebellious sin. This is the offering that Yeshua fulfilled on our behalf, no other offering was as priceless or as worthy as his sacrificial death, nor could any other means have allowed us access to the covenant relationship with the Father, for us and forgiveness of our willful sins and rebellion. As stated before, in making covenant there is always blood. We can see that Jethro is making covenant with and worshipping God, in the presence of the Kohanim (Aaron and his sons, the Levites) and ALL the elders of Israel. They break bread together in the presence of the Lord. The act of Worshiping God is certainly what we were created for. We were put here to praise God. We can do this in many ways, singing, dancing, creating art and poetry in His Name, blessing others, giving the Gospel, teaching our children about Him…in everything we do we can worship Him. In the future there WILL be a Temple and Temple Service, this worship and service will include ANIMAL SACRIFICE.
Understanding Temple service and the Temple itself means a deeper understanding of our King, His design for His desired worship and of course…every element, color, vessel and offering speak of and point to Yeshua and therefore should be considered and preached as Gospel-Good News for all Gods people.
Imagine this, a priest of idolatry is now renouncing his former worship cancelling his pact with the created object and making a commitment to the One God of Israel.
Ezekiel 40;2 In a Divine vision He brought me to the Land of Israel;…3…there was a man whose appearance was like that of copper, with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand; he was standing by the gate. 4 The man said to me, “Son of Man, see with your eyes and hear with your ears and set your heart to all the things that I am showing you, for it was in order to show you that you have been brought here. Relate all that you see to the House of Israel.
43;10 “You, son of man! Tell the House of Israel about the Temple, and let them be ashamed of their iniquities and calculate the design. 11 If they become ashamed of all that they have done, then make known to them the form of the Temple and its designs, its exits and its entrances and all its forms, all its laws, all its designs and all its teachings, and write [all this] down before their eyes, so that they may safeguard its entire form and all its rules and fulfill them.
44;15″But he Kohanim, the Levites, descendants of Zadok, who safeguarded the charge of My Sanctuary when the Children of Israel strayed from Me, let them draw near to Me to serve Me; let them stand before Me to offer to Me fat and blood- the word of the Lord HASHEM/ELOHIM. 16 They will come to My Sanctuary and they will draw near My Table to serve Me, and they will safeguard My charge.
(CJB) James 1;23 For whoever hears the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, 24 who looks at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah, which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blessed in what he does.
Exodus 18;13 It was on the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood by Moses from the morning until the evening. 14The father-in-law of Moses saw everything that he was doing to the people, and he said, “What is this thing that you do to the people? Why do you sit alone with all the people standing by you from morning to evening?”
–Jethro is a changed man with a renewed purpose. He has a moral center now defined by God, Moshe has given the testimony of the Word and Jethro has surely become armed and illuminated. If he previously had been sensitive to the needs of a single household, he is now relating to the entire people as a community. He has become actively attentive to the needs of the Children of Israel and that of his son in law. He observes their situation and asks questions which will allow him to best understand what is happening among and within them. He see’s a single shepherd taking on flocks he is incapable of tending to as a whole uniformly and regularly…he also see’s the man tied to his daughter devoting every single minute to a people who will not soon be discontinuing their requirement for justice and restitution. The progression of a believer should take us from the point of worship to service. An instrumental part of honoring God is our service to our fellow, our community and the greater world around us. Jethro exhibits the very best way we can help others, BEFORE he makes an assessment of a need he observes the situation and ASKS questions. God desires for the passion of a believer or ‘new believer’ to be continually expanding and increasing…yet we should be sure to never loose sight of being a seeker, asking questions, knowing that the more one searches the more he will find…coming as a child realizing there is ALWAYS more to learn.
(CJB) Matthew 18;1 At that moment the talmidim (disciples) came to Yeshua and asked, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” 2 He called a child to him, stood him among them, 3 and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven! 4 So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child.
(NKJV) James 2;14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Exodus 18;18 You will surely become worn out- you as well as this people that is with you- for this matter is too hard for you, you will not be able to do it alone. 19 Now heed my voice, I shall advise you, and may God be with you. You be a representative to God, and you convey the matters to God. 20 You shall caution them regarding the decrees and the teachings, and you shall make known to them the path in which they should go and the deeds that they should do. 21 And you shall discern from among the entire people, men of accomplishment, God-fearing people, men of truth, people who despise money, and you shall appoint them as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens.
–Jethro has shown us the next step we should take. He asks the questions and pays attention and then he takes action. The deed or work (MA’ASEH-action; transaction; activity.) that Jethro displays is that he advises. He is counseling Moshe and he bases his advice not in haste or his own judgment…his advice is based on a Godly goal for a better perseverance, continuance…a greater reality for the people of HASHEM. Yitro admits that the relevance and value of his advice will only be determined by and based upon God’s own ‘agreement’ and ‘participation’ as evidenced by His blessing. As believers we should be active in counsel and community in help and support, when we advise or consider our point of focus and that which we draw from…our source should be the Lord, our reference should be God and His nature as perfectly given in His word. I often hear believers use the terms “led by the Spirit”, “the Spirit said…”, etc. We know that the Lord promised us the very real presence of His Holy Spirit to be our guide, our counselor and our teacher. The Spirit leads us through what we have seen in the word, the Spirit advises us from what we have ‘heard’ in the word, the Spirit teaches us directly from the Word. If believers are not regularly in the word, not giving the word, not tapping in to the word…yet claiming the Spirit is leading them…there is something missing. It is my understanding that The Spirit functions as a unit with the word. There is not Spiritual inspiration which is separated in any way from the expressed Divine word of God. They are a UNIT. If there is something we feel the Spirit is leading us to do or to say, as believers we should try and take Yitro’s example and test is against the word of God. If the Lord has actually revealed something…blessed it and approved, we will know, just as Moshe knew Yitro’s advice had in fact come from God.
(KJV) I John 1; 4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
(CJB) Hebrews 4;12 See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart. 13 Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
John 6; 61 But Yeshua, aware that his talmidim were grumbling about this, said to them, “This is a trap for you? 62 Suppose you were to see the Son of Man going back up to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life, 64 yet some among you do not trust.”
(CJB) John 14; 5 “If you love me, you will keep my commands; 16 and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. 17 The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you. 18 I will not leave you orphans — I am coming to you. 19 In just a little while, the world will no longer see me; but you will see me. Because I live, you too will live. 20 When that day comes, you will know that I am united with my Father, and you with me, and I with you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
–We now come to perhaps the most important step, the most important charge of a true believer. Discipleship. Yitro could well have stayed with the Children of Israel and been cared for by their King, supported and carried along with them, honored among them….but he knew that he had a bigger purpose and responsibility now. He did not intend to take the gracious forgiveness and amazing salvation of the Lord and do nothing with it. He left and went to his land…to testify and proclaim all he had experienced to the people of Midian. I believe he was called to return home with a message of repentance, with the Good News of the God of Israel. Every believer in Yeshua should be devoted to obeying his command, to go out and make disciples. This means first within our households, with our children, then out into the community and even further into the world, the body of “believers to be”. This too is a process, it can not be just an enlightening, evangelistic persuasion. This should be an active and recurrent outreach which will foster that call that God Himself will make within a person. We can track this progression that Yitro went through and be encouragers and builders upon this type of growth and administer more than just a follow up phone call or prayer request…we will become a real part of God’s plan of transforming “believers to be” into true believers (and at the same time, redefining and strengthening our own understanding of the identity… ‘believer”) by becoming a part of the lives, attaching ourselves to this charge completely and wholeheartedly. Yisro is the prime example that the ‘family’ and covenant of the Lord is an invitation extended to ALL men, not just Jews. Yeshua made this passage clear for us, let us be strengthened by knowing the more we pursue and imitate this process of the progression in “faith” the closer we will come to being called “trustworthy” wards of His Kingdom.
James 2;18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
(NAS) Matthew 28; 16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Blessed are You Lord our God Creator and King of the universe, You have blessed us with Your Torah of truth, You have blessed us with the entire counsel of Your living word, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the complete work of Messiah Yeshua. You alone have planted among us Life Eternal.
Blessed are You Lord our God.
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or LIKE Safeguarding The Eternal on Facebook