While Moses has his family visiting him, he continues his work. The people who need him stand before him. He is accessible to everyone. He is the servant of them all. But it is a long queue. On the second day of his visit Jethro sees Moses at work. The scope of the work leads Jethro to give Moses a suggestion to lighten his heavy load. He proposes that Moses should delegate tasks, while Moses himself is available for the difficult things and also represents the people before God.
This proposal is accepted by Moses. He appoints men of ability as heads over the people. These men are always available when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. He himself continues to handle the difficult cases.
The prophetic application is that the Lord Jesus in the reign of the kingdom of peace, involves others in His reign. According to their degree of faithfulness, the believers are given authority over a number of cities (Lk 19:16-1916The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’17And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’18The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’19And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’).
The question has been asked whether Moses had to accept Jethro’s proposal. According to Jethro, the task is too heavy for Moses. According to his judgment, Moses, if he continues like this, will become exhausted. Has God Himself not been able to make this clear to Moses? Jethro is not of the people. Nor does he go with the people (verse 2727Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.).
Although Jethro says in verse 2323If you do this thing and God [so] commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.” that Moses should only respond to his proposal if “God [so] commands you,” the following verse speaks only of Moses doing according to what his father-in-law has recommended. We do not read about a commandment from God to act like this.
But it is also possible that God has used Jethro to introduce an order in the government of Israel. In connection with the prophetic application that has been made above, this is also a possibility. Jethro also says what kind of men should assist Moses. They must
1. be able, men with sound and determined judgment.
2. be God-fearing, men who act out of respect for God, to whom they are ultimately accountable in their jurisdiction.
3. be reliable, men who speak the truth.
4. hate dishonest gain, men who are not bribable, who do not accept handouts.
The description of these qualities shows that Jethro has insight into who can assist Moses. He recommends that Moses discuss it with God and only do it if God commands him to do so. We can assume that Moses did the same. The fact that no mention is made of a commandment from God does not necessarily mean that God has not given His permission. Moses is a man who lives in communion with God.
We can apply the qualities required by Jethro to the ministry of the shepherds in the church (cf. 1Pet 5:2-32shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.). In a broader application we see that God Himself has given different tasks or gifts in the church. He “has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1Cor 12:1818But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.). He did so in a way that “the members may have the same care for one another” (1Cor 12:2525so that there may be no division in the body, but [that] the members may have the same care for one another.). It is important to point this out to each other, so that everything is not done by just a few.