Paul Takes Advice from the Wilderness

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One Untimely Born (Paul)

Jethro sees that Moses has too much work for one person, and he suggests a division of labor  (Exodus 18).  God hears Moses’ complaint that the people are too burdensome and gives Moses similar advice to arrive at 70 elders.  This eases what Moses calls “nursing the people.”  And Paul says the apostles have done just this very thing excellently: “We,” he says, “took care of you” like “a nursing mother to her own children.”

Paul is not alone; and Paul is properly burdened – not so much that he despairs of life, and not so little that he doesn’t take pains for the people.

The passages to compare are below:

Num 11.10-15

10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. 11 Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. 15If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”

1 Thess 2.6-8

6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Incidentally, Moses seems more tender by Exodus 32.31-32:

“Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”

Coincidentally, Paul says the same thing in Romans 9.1-3:

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

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