Thursday, March 20, 2014

The gift of a godly leader

Hur and Aaron hold up Moses' hands - Jan Lievens engraving (1627-1630)
Hur and Aaron hold up Moses' hands - Jan Lievens engraving (1627-1630)

 TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 17:1-16

TO CHEW ON: "So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek…" Exodus 17:10

Here, in verse 10 of today's reading, we have the first mention of Joshua in the Bible. He leads Israel into war against Amalek. Perhaps he distinguishes himself in some way so Moses puts him in charge. Or maybe God just tells Moses who the commander should be.

That day the Israelites win the battle against Amalek, though not because of their military skill. It's an entirely supernatural victory (Exodus 17:11-13).

From this point on Joshua (son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim) keeps cropping up in Israel's story.
  • He becomes Moses' devoted servant accompanying him up Mt. Sinai and attending him at the tent of meeting (Exodus 24:12-13; 33:11).
  • He is one of the spies sent from Kadesh to view the land. Only Caleb and he return with an encouraging, faith-filled report (Numbers 13:8,16; 14:6-30).
  • God picks him as Moses' successor, describing him as "'...a man in whom is the Spirit'" (Numbers 28:18-23).
  • His leadership begins with three supernatural events:
1] The dividing of the Jordan River so the people can walk across (Joshua 3:14-17).
2] The appearance of the Angel of the Lord, who gives him detailed instructions for battle (Joshua 5:13-15; 6:2-5).
3] The defeat of Jericho (Joshua 6:12-21).
  •  The only blot on his career, that I can find, is his attempted conquest of Ai. He plans that attack but never consults God. The story of that devastating defeat is in Joshua 7.
  • From that time on he seems to make steady progress, conquering the nations of Canaan (Joshua 11:23;12:24), and dividing the land amongst Israel's tribes (Joshua 23:4).

If Moses chooses Joshua because of some observable strength, I wonder what it is. I love Joshua's long and humble apprenticeship. He spends 40 years as Moses' understudy and never once in that time does he make a move to take over from him. Once Israel enters Canaan, his wise and godly leadership is God's gift to the people.

Our leaders are also God's gifts to us—though we don't often see it that way. I love what Leslyn Musch says in a commentary at the end of Exodus:

"Uphold the leaders God has placed over you. Walk alongside them, pray for them, encourage them when they are tired, and offer to help in practical ways. Doing so honors the Lord and helps to fulfill His purposes" - Leslyn Musch, Truth-In-Action-Through Exodus, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 131.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for pastors and church boards, mayors and councils, members of legislatures and parliaments, congressmen and senators, premiers, prime ministers, and presidents. Help me to pray for leaders rather than criticize them. Amen. 


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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