March 9, 2022
This week we read Deuteronomy 28-34. Moses finished his speech to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordon River into the promised land. He had reviewed God’s commands about how he wanted the Israelites to live together, treat others, and worship.
Moses shared the blessings and curses that would come from either obeying or not obeying God’s commands. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” God wanted the Israelites to choose life and the blessings he set before them.
After Moses’ speech, he told the Israelites in chapter 31 that he was 120 years old and that he could no longer be their leader or go over into the promised land because of his own sin. He said that Joshua would be their leader and cross ahead of the them.
This next section is what we will focus on this week. It is about Moses “passing the baton” of leadership to Joshua.
In the track and field relay event 4 x 100 meter, there are 4 chosen runners from a team Fthat sprint 100 meters each. The most crucial feature of this race is the “passing of the baton.” The first runner starts with a baton in hand, and after completing their portion of the run, they pass the baton to the next runner. This continues until the fourth runner crosses the finish line with the baton in hand.
During the baton exchange, the athlete receiving the baton can start running before receiving the baton. They just cannot go beyond 10 meters without receiving the baton. If the receiving runner goes beyond 10 meters or drops the baton, the team is disqualified.
In order to be successful in the relay race, the runners not only have to be fast, they have to be good at giving and receiving the baton. This requires the lead runner to hand off the baton precisely, and the athlete receiving the baton to already be running and receive the baton within the given time frame and correctly.
Moses was successful at “passing the baton” to Joshua. They were both chosen by God. Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and to the promised land (Exodus 3:10). Joshua was chosen by God to lead the people into the promised land and beyond (Numbers 27:18).
Moses prepared the Israelites by reviewing the commands of the Lord and he laid hands on Joshua and God filled him with wisdom (Deuteronomy 34:9). But Joshua had already been in leadership prior to this moment. He had already been running so he could successfully receive the baton.
First, Joshua was the chief man from the tribe of Ephraim, so he already was respected because of his heritage. This was the greater of the two tribes of Joseph. Joseph was held in high regard by the Israelites. Therefore, Joshua was respected as well.
Second, Joshua had established different leadership roles with Moses and was faithful to Moses. In Exodus 17:9-10, Moses chose Joshua to lead the fight against the Amalekites, and he won the battle. In Exodus 24:13 Joshua was called Moses’ assistant and climbed up and down the mountain of God with him (Exodus 32). In Exodus 33 we learn that Joshua was with Moses when he met with the Lord in the tent of meeting, and would stay in the tent as Moses spoke to the Israelites about what God had said.
Third, Joshua obeyed and trusted God. In Numbers 13, God told Moses to send out a leader from each tribe of Israel into the promised land of God. Moses instructed the 12 men what to look for and to report back what they saw. They were in the land for 40 days. When they came back, they reported about the land and the people. Ten of those men were scared because the people were large and many. Numbers 14:6 says, “ Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. 7 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
The ten men caused fear among the Israelites and they did not want to cross over into the promised land. Numbers 32:10-13 says, “10 The Lord’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: 11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— 12 not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ 13 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.”
We can see that Joshua was respected because of his heritage, his leadership abilities, and his obedience and trust in God. He was already running to grip the baton from Moses.
Once Moses laid his hands on Joshua, the Lord gave him wisdom. After Moses died, Joshua lead the people as God directed. Joshua 1:16-17 says, “16 Then they (Israelites) answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”
The baton was passed successfully from Moses to Joshua and he ran his portion of the race. Is there anything you need to do to be successful at “passing the baton?”
Who is passing the baton to you? Are you preparing currently for the hand-off? Is there anything you need to do to receive the baton well?
Who is receiving the baton from you? Are you preparing them for the role?
Next week we will start reading the book of Isaiah chapters 1-8.
Have a blessed week and please remember to pray for Ukraine and for the world leaders to have wisdom during this time of crisis.