Posts Tagged ‘transition of power’

The first national leader of ancient Israel Moses shepherded the emerging nation on a forty-year journey, but Moses’s most trusted assistant Joshua was destined to lead the people to their final destination. In these passages, notice the actions and attitude of a great leader when the time to transition to his successor comes. Also take note of his last message to the new leader.

WORD:  Deuteronomy 3: 21-28; 31:1-8; Joshua 1:1-9 (Abridged) (NLT)

 At that time I [Moses] gave Joshua this charge: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the Lord your God has done to these two kings. He will do the same to all the kingdoms on the west side of the Jordan. 22 Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.’

23 “At that time I [Moses] pleaded with the Lord and said, 24 ‘O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? 25 Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains.’

26 “ . . . . ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more. 27 But go up to Pisgah Peak, and look over the land in every direction. Take a good look, but you may not cross the Jordan River. 28 Instead, commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them all the land you now see before you as their possession.’

31 When Moses had finished giving these instructions to all the people of Israel, he said, “I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.’ But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. . . . Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised.

Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Joshua 1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people . . . .No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Moses had been the sole leader of ancient Israel for forty years. In the name of God, he had challenged the ruler of Egypt and won freedom for his people. He had delivered to this new nation their new law, written by the finger of God. He had listened to their complaints and suffered merciless personal attack for years. After all of this, he, however, could not achieve the primary goal for the nation, that is, returning to, reclaiming, and resettling the land their forefathers had left four hundred years earlier.  Moses had to relinquish his position and authority just at the moment when the goal was in sight, a moment that tests the true character of all national leaders.

Rather than grasping power, Moses graciously prepares his people for transition, appoints his successor early, then prepares both the people and Joshua for his absence.

To both the people and Joshua, he gave the Book of Instructions, which we recognize as Deuteronomy, and to both over and over again, he says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.” He reminded Joshua that his success depended on his submission, not his use of power.

Joshua became a great leader of ancient Israel because he never forgot Moses’ words, “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He was never alone at the top. The buck did not stop on his desk.

Prayer:  Sovereign Lord, bless our nation with rulers who are strong and courageous, who will not be afraid or discouraged because they believe that You are their Leader. Teach us to depend on you and to submit to your instruction all the days of our lives, and when the day of transition comes, help us not to be afraid. Amen


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