He learned at the feet of his father in law.
Jethro was a Midianite priest, who cared for his daughter Zipporah, the wife of Moses, and their two sons, Gershom and Eliezer; whom Moses sent away at some point during the judgment of Egypt.
Jethro hears of all the Lord has done on behalf of Israel, by the hands of Moses and Aaron, and rejoices:
“Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God” (Ex. 18:11-12).
Many rabbinic commentators believe that by confession, and the act of sacrifice, Jethro converted to faith in the God of Israel. I find no basis for disagreement.
Immediately, Jethro involves himself in community. He observes Moses’ manner of leadership, and says, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Ex. 18:17-18).
“Not good” draws our attention back to Genesis 2, when it was not good for Adam to be alone. Adam needed a helpmate, Eve. Moses, also needed helpmates, other learned leaders (Ex. 18:19-23).
Did Moses reject this direction? After all, he was the called, appointed, and established leader of God’s people. No, Moses listened:
“Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said” (Ex. 18:24).
Before Moses would receive the Sinai revelation, sit in the presence of God for 40 days and nights, he had to sit at the feet of his father in law, his third father figure in life, and learn from him.
Jethro was a gentile; and a pagan priest at that! Yet, the Lord allowed his wisdom to stand. Jethro’s wisdom reverberates in the Body of Messiah as well. While the language is different, the principles remain the same (Eph. 4:11-16).
Moses was the leader of millions. Jethro, the leader of a few. Still, Moses humbled himself, and learned from him, and all were blessed.
The plurality of leadership model remains, even today. Disciples of Messiah disciple others, as they themselves are humbled in continued discipleship. I am a leader, but I am also being led. I have elders and fathers in life and ministry, whose feet I sit at, in order to be properly prepared to hear at Sinai. Each of them are men in submission, humbled and accountable.
When we follow the order given by Peter, and Paul, from the mouth of Yeshua/Jesus, we see that it is traced back to Sinai, and even further, down to the base of Sinai itself, from the wisdom of one, who rejoiced at the power, mercy and grace of God: Jethro.
We have much to learn from this interaction between Moses and Jethro. The only way forward in the Body of Messiah is according to the order and pattern given in the Word. There is a spirit rising up today that would have expelled Jethro from the camp, refusing to listen.
Still, when we do this faith life in His way, we all flourish. It is hard. It is humbling. At times embarrassing. Yet, submission to godly authority is exampled by the great cloud of witnesses around us.
Moses led a nation through the greatest display of heavens power since the creation! Then Moses humbled himself to be corrected by a priest from the backside of nowhere. From that humility, the people would flourish.
Consider closely this interaction. I know you will be blessed.
Be well. Shalom.