Think of the joy a soldier on deployment in Afghanistan would experience if his family made a surprise visit. Moses couldn’t wait and went out to meet them. Lots of hugs and kisses for everyone. Then Exodus 18:8 says, “Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done 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.”
There were many hardships they encountered along the way. He expected Pharaoh to fall quickly, but it took 10 plagues to bring the stubborn king to his knees. He kept changing his mind about setting the Israelites free if God would just stop the pain. He even told Moses, “I’ve sinned against you and your God! Please forgive me and pray for me!” The back and forth was exhausting. But they watched as God swallowed up Pharaoh and his chariot army in the sea. As they journeyed into the wilderness there were times of hunger and burning thirst, but God provided food and water in abundance. Not long ago the Amalekites attacked them from behind, but God gave the victory as Moses lifted his hands in prayer. In their darkest moments of despair, God was always faithful to show up. In every hardship, he kept his promise and brought salvation to his people.
Jethro was overjoyed. This was his son-in-law. Forty years ago he drifted into town haggard and hungry, with no place to lay his head. Now God had raised him up to deliver and shepherd his people. He lifted his voice and exclaimed in Exodus 18:10, “Praise be to the Lord!” As an act of worship, Jethro brought a sacrifice to God and invited all the elders of Israel to eat in the presence of God.
The first day of their reunion was packed with sharing, eating, and celebration. But what about the next day? I’m a Moses fan. I want to read how he grabbed his wife and kids and got away to reconnect. But notice Exodus 18:13, “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.” The very next day, it was all business. Let’s remember his blind spot, and the large congregation he had to shepherd. There was always a text, a call, an email, a crisis. Caught up in the rush, like a twig in the rapids, he sped past his family that morning with a cup of joe in his hand. He worked from morning until evening, as the people stood around waiting in the hot sun.