Sunday, February 24, 2013

Changing of the guard: Num 26-27

"18 The Lord replied, “Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. 19 Present him to Eleazar the priest before the whole community, and publicly commission him to lead the people. 20 Transfer some of your authority to him so the whole community of Israel will obey him."  Numbers 27:18-20

The community is ready to move into the Promised Land, but not without a change of leadership that reflects the changes that have happened in the wilderness.  The updated census shows only a minor reduction in the number of fighting men (603,550 at the start vs. 601,730 before entering the land).  Considering that 603,548 of those men have fallen in the desert, the Lord has been good to them.  The land is allocated based on the new census, but that leaves questions from those who have fallen.

The daughters of Zelophad become the first women land-owners, probably in all of history.  Orphans and widows would normally be destitute and unable to provide for themselves.  In the harsh conditions of early farming, men's labor was not easily replaced and tilling the soil was the work assigned Adam, not Eve.  Still, for the sake of the family's survival, women have always been willing to put their shoulder to the plow if necessary, maybe too willing--but that is a question for another day.  The family line must move on and if need be, it will move on with a clan of women. 
Moses also must pass out of the picture.  His disobedience means he will see the land but not enter it.  He is careful to make sure that the people have a leader and God picks one who has been by Moses' side and God's side continually since they left Egypt. 

It's interesting to me that the primary qualification God identifies for Joshua isn't his leadership skill, but the fact that he has the Spirit in him.  He doesn't appear to have the same relationship with God that Moses had, but then again, who did?  He will grow to be a great leader, though at the moment, I'm sure there are lots of questions in everyone's mind.  Succession is hard and Moses left really big, really humble shoes to fill.  No leader steps in right away with it all together.  God saw things in Joshua that may have been hard for others to see.  That's ok.  God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the ones He calls.  God picks someone He knows He can teach. 

Are you teachable?  (Am I??)

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