Joshua takes over where Moses left off. The hopes and dreams of Moses, wandering through the desert for 40 years, are finally being realized, although the challenge looks a lot different than when it was a far off dream.
Joshua is a fascinating character in the Bible. If you aren’t familiar with Joshua, I invite you to seek out a Bible and spend a bit of time reading that portion. There are so many opportunities for us to see our lives through biblical characters. Joshua is one of them.
Joshua has a different set of challenges than did Moses. Having led the people to the Promised Land, and having now captured Ai, Joshua demonstrates an essential component of their new life: worship. He builds an altar to the Lord “just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites.” Not only is this a fulfillment of the law of Moses, but a direction the people have been going long before the law was given: Worship and Sacrifice. It is a renewal of covenant that began at Abraham, and again at Passover.
Where do you need renewal in your life?
How often have you sought change, but found the changing daily landscape different from what you first endeavored to find?
Joshua becomes a fine example for the weary sojourner.
Joshua leads by example. He helps build this “altar of unhewn stones, which no iron tool has been used”. Then in the presence of the people, he writes on the stone a copy of the law of Moses. Granted it may have been key inscriptions, but it sets the standard. It is as if he is communicating: “This will be the centerpiece of our life together, he is declaring. This is the place worship has. This is the place teaching has over us, and just as God taught me, I now teach you.”
In the midst of the challenges to complete my doctorate in congregational development, I often thought of Joshua for guidance. I see the vision of Moses up there writing down the law. But then Joshua is tasked with the hard part – making it come to reality. Have you ever tried to change a system? Challenge the status quo?
Above all Joshua sets a good example. Trying to change a system when the leader at the top isn’t on board is about the most impossible thing in congregational development. So this is why we look to Joshua. Joshua models that new direction. Joshua is a potentially effective leader because of his actions.
One of my on-again off-again struggles in the church today is our overuse and over-focus on interims. Somehow we mistakenly think that when we are without a permanent leader it’s a good time to change a system. Good luck! Sometimes the best thing we can do in terms of organizational development is get the right person in the right place and begin some long-term changes. Joshua does that. He sets the tone for excellence – not as someone from the outside coming in, but a claiming of his own authority and leadership, and moving into a bold new future. By teaching and modeling he is setting the pace for how things will be run from henceforth.
I doubt Joshua had it easy. Living into the footsteps of Moses is not a challenge I would be up for. But he does it with pose and with purpose. He leads knowing that honoring God is the most important, and that God is the true leader of this bunch of lost sheep, and we best focus on what is central that God would have us do.