Deuteronomy 34:9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
God’s provision for Israel included a successor for Moses, but everyone involved had to cooperate. Moses was certainly involved, not only laying his hands on Joshua for anointing, as it says here, but training him by letting Joshua assist him in the activities of leading Israel. Joshua was of course involved, submitting himself to Moses. I would imagine the relationship was in many ways like that of Elijah and Elisha. That was described by an officer of King Jehoshaphat as, “He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.” (2 Kings 3:11) He had been trained both in faith and in action, in administration and in battle. And then, Israel was involved, willingly following Joshua as they had followed Moses. In some ways I think Joshua had it easier than Moses, because he at least had Moses’ example to follow, while Moses was a total pioneer. The one thing that Joshua failed to do that Moses had done was raise up his own successor, and Israel suffered for it. There were intermittent leaders in the period covered by the Book of Judges, but in general they suffered from a lack of spiritual and national focus. I think that had a lot to do with their demand for a king in the days of Samuel. However, those who demanded a king were thinking only in terms of national focus, rather than spiritual focus. Today America faces the same tension. It won’t be a theocracy until Christ’s return, but it has suffered greatly from national leaders who have failed to keep correct spiritual focus, in all three branches of government.
All of this applies on a personal level to me. By God’s grace I have a “successor in training,” and I am grateful. I need to apply myself to my part in it, imparting to him what the Lord has given me. Over the past 35 years I have had times of pretty diffuse focus myself, and I certainly can’t afford that now. I have done better about spiritual focus than I have with organizational focus, and my successor needs to understand that, correcting my mistakes without abandoning what I have done right. I think the flock is participating in the process pretty well at this point. Everyone involved needs to understand both that he is not the same as me, and that that is a good thing. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) God is in control, and we are to cooperate.
Father, transitions aren’t easy. I’m gradually getting used to not preaching every Sunday, but I need to be active in pursuing what You do have for me to do. I’ve had potential successors before, and I haven’t done very well in training them. I ask for Your wisdom on all levels, so that Your good plans for us all may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!