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lighthouse at dawn March 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Deuteronomy 32:48 - Joshua 2:24

Transferring Leadership

New Leadership usually brings hope. Changes of leadership, however, can be difficult and even ugly at times; it often depends on how the current administration handles it. Each leader has his strengths and weaknesses, and each leader has his own personality and approach to leadership. If we take an example from Moses, we can learn wise and gracious ways to transfer leadership.

In today's Bible reading Moses knows his time is coming to an end, so he asks God for another leader to shepherd the people of Israel. The next leader should be someone whom God chooses, and not necessarily the most popular or most qualified. Joshua is chosen by God and recognized by Moses. Moses was a good leader. If we have been good leaders, people may respect our choices of the next leader(s).

Joshua was prepared for leadership. He was a close aide to Moses (Numbers 11:28). When Moses left the tent of meeting in the desert of Sinai, Joshua remained (Exodus 33:11). Though there is no Biblical record to tell us, perhaps God communicated with Joshua at that time. Joshua was also chosen to lead Israel's armies into battle and did so successfully (Exodus 17:9-14). Who better to lead Israel into battle than one who wanted to stay close to God and had proven military success? When the twelve spies went into Canaan to spy out the land and people, only Caleb and Joshua expressed faith in the LORD that He would give them military victory (Numbers 14:6-9; 32:8-12). Good spiritual leaders have faith in God. Now Moses publicly recognizes Joshua as the new leader and encourages him. Moses then puts some of his authority upon him. Joshua is exhorted to follow the LORD completely and lead with courage. Apprenticeships can help us prepare leaders. To transfer leadership gracefully and successfully, it is good to give guidance and encouragement and some authority to prospective leaders.

Moses leaves gracefully. He blesses the tribes of Israel that he led for more than forty years. Though they gave him a lot of grief, he is gracious in his blessing. He cares about them and loves them even more than himself. We don't know all of the meanings of the blessings given in Deuteronomy 33, and for us they may seem irrelevant, but we can learn a general principle from Moses' blessing: business men, church leaders, and other organizational leaders should be gracious in their departure. We should forgive past hurts. We should express confidence in the new leadership, give the people a good name (reputation) to live up to, and bless them. We should recognize how God is using or can use them if they will submit to His will. Departing leaders should leave gracefully.

From the top of Mount Nebo in Moab, God shows Moses all the land of Canaan which they are to possess, and then Moses dies and is buried by God. After Moses departs from this life, a good epitaph is written of him to conclude the book of Deuteronomy:

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt-- to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12, NIV)

What epitaph are we leaving as leaders of our families, churches, businesses, or other organizations? Are we men and women of God? Are we people of holiness, humility, and kindness? Do we rely on God, and is He at work in our lives? Do we invest our lives in people? Do we intercede on their behalf? When we leave we should leave a godly legacy for people to remember. They should glorify the LORD for our leadership.

The book of Joshua concerns the conquest and the division of the Promised Land under the new leader, Joshua. God says to him, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-- to the Israelites,” (Joshua 1:2, NIV).

God encourages Joshua that as He was with Moses, so He will be with him (Joshua 1:5). What would be the keys to success for Joshua? God instructs him to have faith and be courageous. Furthermore, he is to be careful to obey all the Law (a probable reference to Deuteronomy), speak of it, and meditate on it day and night so he will be careful to do everything in it (Joshua 1:6-8). These keys for success will work for us, too, if we have a personal relationship with God and try to obey Him in everything (more...).

Perhaps Joshua was a little timid or was not a natural leader because four times he is exhorted to have faith and act with courage (Joshua 1:6,7,9,18). God chose Joshua, not because he is a natural leader, but because he is obedient in everything. God is glorified when He works with us in our weaknesses or in spite of them (1Corinthians 1:27-29). Perhaps the prospect of leading millions of Israelites into a hostile land for war scares Joshua, but it probably keeps him humble and reliant on the LORD. Joshua has military experience, but he needs confidence now. We need to give confidence to new leaders and encourage those who might be reticent or who face daunting tasks.

Joshua is an astute leader. Obviously remembering the fiasco that was caused by the earlier report of the twelve spies, Joshua hand-picks just two spies to spy out the land for the first battle. They stay in Jericho with a woman who has the reputation of being a prostitute. Rahab, however, fears the LORD. She shows her faith in God by what she says and does: Rahab welcomes the spies into her home; she hides them; she expresses faith in God's plan and purpose; she expresses faith in God's person; and she puts a scarlet rope in her window, trusting in God's salvation. What lesson does this teach us about God's saving grace? God's grace is all inclusive; He will save anyone who comes to Him by faith.

The two spies come back to Joshua with a positive report. In contrast with the negative report that discouraged the first generation of Israelites from going into the land of Canaan, this report encourages their descendants. As was prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy 33:29), the people in Canaan are melting in fear because of God's miraculous deeds on Israel's behalf. If we will trust God, He can do great deeds and even miracles if He wishes. Other people will see what God does in our lives and fear the LORD.

Lessons to live by: (regarding leadership changes)

  • Good spiritual leaders have faith in God. This starts with a personal relationship with Him that gives us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • The next leader should be someone whom God has chosen, not necessarily the most popular or most qualified.
  • Apprenticeships can help us prepare leaders. We must give guidance and encouragement and some authority to prospective leaders.
  • Departing leaders should leave gracefully.
  • When we leave we should leave a godly impression on people.
  • We need to give confidence to new leaders and encourage those who might be reticent or who face daunting tasks.
  • If we will trust God, He can do great deeds and even miracles if He wishes. Other people will see what God does in our lives and fear the LORD.
  • Obeying God's word brings Him glory and gives us favor with Him.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (NIV)

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