Jethro/Reuel/Hobab (“His Excellency”) was a Kenite shepherd, a priest of Midian, and he became father-in-law of Moses after he gave his daughter, Zipporah, in marriage to Moses. He is introduced in Exodus 2:18.
Jethro is recorded as living in Midian; a territory stretching along the eastern edge of the Gulf of Aqaba in what is today, northwestern Saudi Arabia. Some believe Midian is within the Sinai Peninsula.
Jethro was revered as a prophet in his own right in the Druze religion, and considered an ancestor of the Druze.
Jethro did not grow up as a Hebrew; he belonged to a community that worshiped many gods. But, God revealed Himself to Jethro through the life of Moses… and, surely, Moses shared with Jethro what God had done in and for His people.
Jethro’s conversion is a critical reminder that unbelievers – lost people – may watch for evidence of God’s power in our lives more carefully than they listen to our words.
Over 40yrs passed before Jethro finally gave his life to the One True God.
Are you willing to be that patient in living a Christlike life before the people God has placed around you?
When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, he and his family were living with his father-in-law in Midian. So, Jethro blessed Moses, said goodbye to his daughter and grandchildren, and watched them begin their journey to Egypt. Moses and his family endured the journey, witnessed the plagues brought on the Egyptians, and walked through the Red Sea together.
We’re not told Moses’ reasons, but, at some point, he sent his wife and children back to Jethro. Maybe Moses felt the road ahead would be too difficult or too dangerous for them. Or maybe he felt his responsibilities would take too much time from the care of his family.
Once Jethro gave his daughter to Moses in marriage, he didn’t expect her to ever move back home. The 10yrs Moses had worked for and with Jethro had shown Jethro the character of Moses. So, Jethro must have been surprised when Zipporah showed up back at Jethro’s doorstep.
So, what did Jethro do? He escorted them back to Moses (Ex. 18)!
Moses greatly respected Jethro… and received his family back from him. And, while Jethro visited with Moses, surely impressed by the task before his son-in-law, he was able to give him some sound advice, helping him to prioritize and delegate (Ex. 18:13-23).
Jethro’s wise counsel proved to be a valuable lesson early in Moses’ 40yr ministry of leading God’s people
Sometimes life pressures blind us to the more important things we have to do. At such times, we need to listen to the wise counsel of godly people who can help us find perspective… keeping the main thing the main thing.
In the same way, we should be alert to those around us who may be so bogged down with church or career responsibilities that they may be neglecting time with family… or time with God!
Every believer can use a Jethro to lessen the likelihood of spiritual burnout.
You can read Jethro’s story in Exodus 2; 3; 18.