Transition of leadership
Numbers 27: Set a man over this community to lead them.
The twenty-seventh chapter of Numbers feels a bit out of place. After it we get back to the details of the law and descriptions of battles fought by the Israelites on their wilderness journey. This chapter, though, is about dividing up the land once they arrive in Canaan and here in this passage we read of the mantle of leadership being passed from Moses to Joshua. This doesn’t diminish the story any, but it’s interesting that it feels as though we’re peeking ahead a bit. The Lord tells Aaron and Moses that the sun is setting on their lives. Because of their behavior at Meribeth they won’t enter into the Promised Land. The primary concern of Moses at this point is not that he’ll not set foot in Canaan but is rather that a new leader will have to be chosen. The natural selection for this job is the one the Lord makes. Joshua, an assistant of Moses will take up the responsibility of, and be granted the gifts for, leadership. A new generation will possess Canaan and their leader will be from that generation. This transition of power is one of the things that work right for the people of Israel. There’s no stubborn holding on by Moses (something I’m impressed with, considering he’s been in charge for forty years) and there’s no coop from Joshua. The people accept the change without dividing up into the “Moses did it better” and the “Joshua’s our guy” camps. I’m convinced that this is how things are supposed to work in the Kingdom of God. I also understand that it’s harder than it looks. It takes careful, intentional, grace-filled effort for one leader to step down and another to step up. When it works, as it does in this passage, it’s a beautiful thing.
Take Away: During times of transition we need a double portion of God’s grace.