Today’s reading includes Numbers 26:52-28:15, Luke 3:1-22, Psalm 61:1-8, Proverbs 11:16-17. Today what caught my attention was the following verses:
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)
15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[f] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”
22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.
This passage indicates that this was the beginning of the end for the incredible life of Moses. He was not to be the one to lead the people into the Promise Land. He had been a faithful leader through the wilderness, but was now required to pass the baton to another. And why was he not allowed to fulfill the mission to the end? Because “when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” So, what really happened in the Desert of Zin? The story is back in Numbers 20. The people were once again complaining and coming in opposition toward Moses and Aaron. There was no water and the people wanted to pick another leader who would return them to the land of their slavery. This is what happened:
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him.10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Moses was angry. He was angry at the people and his anger clouded his view of what God wanted to do. He had already seen the glory of the Lord when he sought Him in the tent of meeting. He humbly asked God’s advice, and God told him exactly what to do. But when he left the tent of meeting, his anger towards the people returned. And he made several critical mistakes. God intended this time to be a time of showing His holiness to the people. Moses was told to speak to the rock, just as God spoke the world into existence. But instead he struck the rock not once but twice in anger. He also took the credit for it by saying “must we bring you water…” The “we” was he and Aaron, who of course could not have provided water from a rock. Only God could do that. And lastly, he made a grave mistake by not honoring God and His holiness in the sight of all of the Israelites. Moses publically led the people to lose their focus on God and place it on man instead. In God’s eyes, leaders are held to a higher degree of accountability. Just look and see the stricter qualifications of the deacons and elders found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. Yes, Moses had to be punished. But he still was favored and adored by God as evidenced by the fact that God took him to the Promise land and let his eyes see the land he had searched for. Though he would not be allowed to walk in the land, he was allowed to see it. He was allowed to complete his mission of guiding the people to the Promise land.
A lesser man would have possibly been jealous of the next leader, or bitter towards God that he was being replaced. But not Moses. He asked the Lord to replace him with a great leader, someone who would be a shepherd to the people and lead them well. And God answered Moses prayer and appointed Joshua to take the position.
Moses was given the honor of commissioning someone who had been his faithful helper throughout the years. Joshua had proved that he had a spirit of leadership through the years of hardship and struggle. And what were the characteristics of this spirit of leadership?
Joshua had proved that he was a whole-hearted follower of God for it was said that he rarely left the tent of meeting—the church of the day.
Joshua had proved that he was courageous by leading the fight against the Amalekites.
Joshua had proved that he was humble by submitting to and backing Moses’ authority. He did not follow Korah’s rebellion like 250 of the other prominent leaders did.
Joshua had faith in God’s provision, not his own. He and Caleb were the only ones of the twelve spies that were optimistic and courageous enough to believe that they could possess the Promise Land. He and Caleb alone stood up for God’s cause and now is reaping the blessing of his obedience. He found first hand that it is better to stand up for righteousness, even if you have to stand alone. In time, God will reward.
So, in this spirit of leadership with the characteristics of faith, courage, and humility, Joshua was appointed the next leader of the people of God.
Is God calling you to be a leader? In your home? Among your friends? In your church? At work? Then keep in mind what God’s view of leadership is, and make sure your character exudes these three things: faith, courage, and humility.