Jethro’s Toll

Am I a monotheist or a polytheist? Upon an initial examination of my faith, I always answer, “a monotheist.” However, upon a more exhaustive and introspective examination, I have to confirm the latter. I recognize the existence of other gods and I have to continuously affirm that Yahweh—the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, His only Son Jesus Christ, and the Empowering Holy Spirit—One God, existing in three persons is greater than all “other” gods.

Why do I need to “continuous” affirm such a thing?

Because my actions often suggest otherwise:

  • My unemployment tested my conviction in God’s superiority over money and financial security—two very powerful gods.
  • My divorce examined my confidence in God’s dominance over companionship.
  • My fatherhood  persists on assessing my assurance in God’s supremacy over love.
  • My emotional inconsistency and ambiguity forces me to evaluate God’s authority over my heart.

The list of Yahweh’s competition is endless. Money, companionship, love, our hearts…these gods only scratch the surface. There is a pantheon containing a plethora of gods weaseling their way into our lives…attempting to steal our devotion away from the God of gods, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

When people consider the impact Jethro had on Moses’ life, they immediately move to his managerial advice. Jethro was about delegation, right? Every burned-out preacher immediately goes there when his or her congregation isn’t stepping up to their ministerial plates. I’m not going to go there! It’s just too easy—and to be honest—I don’t find the Exodus 18-delgating-responsiblities-blog-post very interesting.

Jethro was far more than a master-delegator, administrator, advisor, Moses’ father-in-law, or the priest of Midian.  Jethro most likely introduced Moses to the God of Abraham—the same God who called Moses from the burning bush and reveled to Moses His true name—Yahweh. Jethro was a descendent of Midian. Midian was the fourth son of Abraham’s second wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2). Abraham surely taught all of his sons about his God…even Midian.

Moses was raised in the Egyptian courts and was very familiar with the Egyptian pantheon. After murdering the Egyptian slave master and escaping into the wilderness, Moses met Jethro and was introduced to the God of his ancestors…the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…and Midian. This, most likely, didn’t annihilate Moses’ conviction in the existence of other gods…even Jethro believed in the existence of other gods. Nonetheless, over time, both Moses and Jethro became convinced that Yahweh was superior to any of the other gods they believed to exist.

 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things Yahweh had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, ‘Praise be to Yahweh, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’”

—Exodus 18:9-11

Jethro heard about everything Yahweh had done for Israel. He heard about the ten plagues and Yahweh’s defeat of the Egyptian pantheon. He heard about the Red Sea and Yahweh’s superiority over the winds and the waves. He heard about the manna, the quail, the water in the wilderness and Yahweh’s everlasting providence even in the midst of the most trying times. Jethro heard about all these things and KNEW that Yahweh was GREATER than all other gods.

Whether our god is our weekly paycheck, our arrogant conviction that we’re right, or a man sportin’ the head of a jackal…we often pledge our devotion to one or the other instead of our Almighty God. Yahweh has the power and ability to carry us through thick and thin…no matter the circumstances. This is Jethro’s toll…and I’ll try to embrace that every day. It’s a constant battle—because some of the other gods out there have appealing powers of conviction. These gods promise us financial security, loving companionship, protection, entertainment, escape…they promise us the world…and they captivate our hearts. But they are weak in comparison to Yahweh, because…

“Yahweh is greater than all other gods.”

–Jethro

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