I wonder if Moses did the right thing. He listened to his father-in-law: "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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain — and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." (vs 17-23)
Moses did exactly what Jethro said. The Bible doesn’t say if he consulted God about it or not. But, we’re going to see that it won’t be long before Moses goes up Mount Sinai, and the people have already become more distanced and detached from him. Could that be because of the extra, insulating layer of "government" that was put between them and Moses, and thus, them and God? Also, perhaps this bureaucratic structure — enacted so early on — paved the way for the people to want "one of their own" to rule over them in later years when they asked for a king.
Jethro told Moses that the work was too hard for him, but God had never told Moses that. Wouldn’t a God who was able to provide for the hunger and thirst of millions of people in the desert be capable of caring for the needs of His right-hand man? Perhaps He sent Jethro to advise Moses, but since Moses and God were in the habit of speaking so plainly with one another, I would wonder why God didn’t speak to Moses Himself.
So what, if anything, would be wrong about setting up the judges as Moses did? Perhaps only in what it would communicate to the people about God. The people knew that Moses was God’s right-hand man, and it must have been incredible to be able to have access to him, to bring their disputes to him, and to feel that — in so doing — they had an ally in one who was so closely connected with their God.
Imagine if, instead of going to your local district court, you could have your case heard in the United States Supreme Court. Or, forget the Supreme Court, imagine if you could take your dispute right to the President of the United States (or the top authority in your country). Instead, there’s a system. And, unfortunately, many times, people feel as though they’ve just become a "number" in the system instead of a person who has a name.
God desires intimacy. His wish is that we have fewer layers of bureaucracy between us and Him, not more! He longed to speak to every Israelite like He spoke to Moses — face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And I think it’s possible that, in listening to the advice of his father-in-law, Moses took those wishes one step in the wrong direction.
Regardless, today, be assured that God doesn’t want there to be anyone between you and Him. He certainly doesn’t need anyone between you and Him, but if, for the sake of your comfort, you do, He will graciously provide a mediator. The desire of God’s heart, however, is intimacy. To intimately know you and to be intimately known by you.