Jethro versus Rehoboam
We have a sense of peace when we get some relief from the pressures and responsibilities of life, and that pressure is lifted because of the counsel we received from someone with wisdom, knowledge, and expertise that they brought to the table, having your best interest at heart. They didn’t want anything in return, but knew you could benefit from what they could offer in terms of sound advice.
On the other end of the spectrum is when we seek counsel from people we know, not because they really have the answer, but because we have known them for so long we believe what they say could be the right answer.
Let’s delve into two stories in the Bible that fall into these two types of counsel. First up is Moses in the book of Exodus. Jethro, a priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law had heard all the wonderful things the Lord had done to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He goes to see Moses bringing Moses his wife and children with him. Jethro immediately praises God for what he has done.
9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.
The next day Jethro notice the all the people around Moses and asked what it was all about and Moses explained that the people come to him about the Lord. His father-in-law stated this was not a good situation and could make Moses very tired if he kept doing things in this manner and it was too big of a burden for one man.
Exodus 18: 13-18
13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
Jethro begins to counsel Moses on how to handle such a huge responsibility in a way that would benefit everyone. Jethro tells him the characteristics to look for when choosing men who could assist him and how many in each group they could rule over. Moses listened and acted. This was a man that had organizational and leadership skills and could see a better more efficient way to get results and not to gain anything by it personally but to help a man of God the best way he knew how being a man of God himself.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
Second, is the story of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who had become king of Israel after his father’s death. Solomon ran a tight and strict government and the people asked that he would lighten the yoke some.
4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee.
Rehoboam said let me think about it and come back in three days and he consulted with the elders who served with his father.
2 Chron. 10:6-7
6 And king Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return answer to this people?
7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever.
He ignored their counsel and asked his friends who he knew for years. They were not very wise and gave bad counsel.
8 But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him, that stood before him.
9 And he said unto them, What advice give ye that we may return answer to this people, which have spoken to me, saying, Ease somewhat the yoke that thy father did put upon us?
10 And the young men that were brought up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it somewhat lighter for us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.
11 For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king bade, saying, Come again to me on the third day.
13 And the king answered them roughly; and king Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the old men,
14 And answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add thereto: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
*** NOTE: Rehoboam’s decision caused the divided kingdom – the Kingdom of Judah made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the South and the remaining 10 tribes made up the Kingdom of Israel in the North.***
2Chron. 10:16-19, 11:1
16 And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents.
17 But as for the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
18 Then king Rehoboam sent Hadoram that was over the tribute; and the children of Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. But king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
19 And Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
11 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.
Rehoboam strengthened his territory and forgot about God’s laws and because of this Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.
12 And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.
2 And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord,
3 With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.
4 And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.
5 Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.
They did humble themselves somewhat and God’s spared them from destruction, but they still became servants of Shishak and treasures of Solomon became that of Shishak because of their disobedience.
7 And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.
8 Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.
9 So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
Rehoboam did not listen to those who knew best, but sought the counsel of friends which is not always the right way to go. They can’t sometimes see pass the friendship and see the whole picture. Rehoboam didn’t have a heart of compassion from the beginning, it was more of having the title instead of doing good for what was entrusted to him as the son of Solomon who was considered the wisest man in the Bible.
14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord. 2Chron. 12:14
God always looks at the heart We may make decisions or get advice from people with experience and wisdom or people we have known for many years and what I would say to that is before making any decisions and getting advice or counsel, pray first and ask God to surround you with people that have a heart for God and that he gives you the spirit of discernment, recognizing truth and goodness, and having insight and clarity.