Moses is handing off the mantel of leadership. At 120 years old it is time for him to step down. Joshua will be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land.
Being 120 years old isn’t the main reason Moses is stepping down. God told him he couldn’t go into the Promised Land. If God would have allowed it, Moses’ 120 year old body would have complied. But then when would have been the time to let the mantle of leadership pass onto another?
I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that God KNEW Moses was going to fail that fateful test with the water from the rock. From MY point of view with everything that went on from Israel leaving Egypt until this moment in their journey, included in our reading, Moses’ one act wasn’t that monumental. I don’t know if the people even knew that Moses was supposed to speak to the rock instead of strike it. I wonder if Aaron even knew. But God knew and it is HIS point of view that mattered.
He knew where Moses was in his frustration level. He knew what lay ahead for the people. He also knew the hearts of the people and their reliance on Moses. But Moses wasn’t the one they were ultimately following. They looked to him for everything. He was the one who inquired of God for them. Everything God gave them came through him. He could VERY easily have become their focal point for worship. He kept refocusing them on God in the wilderness but if he was their central figure through EVERYTHING it would be even harder.
The people needed to follow God alone. They needed to see that it wasn’t about one man but about One God. God could lead the nation with anyone who would submit to Him. It was time to prove that fact.
Joshua was not an unknown. He was Moses’ right hand man. He stood by Moses’ side when he urged the people to stop rebelling the first time God brought them to the brink of the Promised Land. He went with Moses up onto the mountain to receive God’s word. He was Moses’ assistant in so many ways. He was the logical choice for leadership outside of the priesthood.
God didn’t tell Moses to pass on this mantel to the high priest. God kept the priesthood separate from the general leadership of the people. This would remain in effect throughout the rest of Israel’s history. But the high priest was to advise the leader and the leader was to seek God’s guidance.
Moses’ last words in our reading today confirm to Joshua and to the people Who is in command. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put then in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (verses 7b-8). The Lord was the one doing it for them. It was by His hand that they would receive the promise. Not my Moses or by Joshua.
Father God my nation is in trouble. We need Your hand here. The whole world needs You. We need leaders who will listen to You and follow where You lead. We need them in every level of leadership from the local leaders to the highest offices. These lowest level “offices” include the leadership of the family. Help me be Your instrument in this area of my life. I want to give my family direction from You. I want to be able to point them back to You. I know they are not under my direct authority any longer but at least let me stand and point in the right direction as they walk with their families.
Help me also know how much of that role to take on in my own household. With my husband’s issues I find myself in this role most of the time. Sometimes I think I may take too much of this role from him. I want to keep the balance You would have me maintain. Thank You for reminding me of that need. Forgive me for the times I get frustrated by my own desire to stay in control. Lead me Holy Spirit.