Pinchas (Numbers 25:10 – 30:1)
“Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua, stood him before Eleazar the priest and all the entire assembly. Then he laid hands on him and commissioned him just as the Lord had spoken, by Moses’ hand.”
With the appointment of Joshua as leader of Israel, the Lord – through Moses – is ensuring that the children of Israel have a leader to look to for direction, who will also lead by example. We are witnessing in these verses a succession in leadership for the children of Israel – the congregation of witness for the Living God.
Moses has led Israel from the dawn of their history as a nation; and now, at the dawn of their maturity, as they are about to enter the Promised Land, a new leader must be appointed. While his leadership lasts but a short forty years – the Torah (the Law), which the Lord delivered through Moses, has endured for 3,500 years. Such an enduring legacy – a legacy that includes the event which disqualified him from leading Israel into the Promised Land when he, in his anger, goes out and says to the children of Israel, “Hear now, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Moses was a mighty man of the Living God – a shepherd of the flock of God – yet for a momentary loss of vision and composure, he would not lead the people into the promise.
Israel was on the verge of a new era, an era that would require a different leader, for a different purpose. A leader who knew their history, but who could also adjust to the realities of the present. A new leader would ensure that Israel was not “like sheep without a shepherd,” a leader who goes “out before them and comes in before them, who leads them out and brings them in” (Num. 27:15-17).
Joshua, the trusted disciple of Moses, would lead with the authority of Moses (Num. 27:18-20). He would lead Israel from the wilderness, the field of transition, to their home in the Promised Land. He would lead them in battle. He would advise. He would be an example going out before them; and he would settle them in the inheritance. He would accomplish what Moses could not – by entering the Land of Israel.
The relationship between Moses and Joshua was also prophetic in nature. Moses, while a faithful servant in the house who spoke with his Lord face to face, would not fulfill the prophetic picture of Israel entering her rest. His servant Joshua (God is Salvation) would fulfill the prophet picture – a picture that would be realized some fifteen hundred years later.
In the fullness of time the Lord sent his Son into the world to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). His son, Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus, is the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14) full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14). And while Moses gave the Word, the instruction of God, from Mt. Sinai, in the person of Messiah Jesus the grace and truth of heaven was manifest among the people of God, Immanuel (Jn. 1:17; Matt. 1:23).
Messiah Yeshua would take up the mantle of leadership. He taught and ministered with authority (power, skill, evidence of learning), as we read, “for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes” (Matt. 7:29; cf. Mk. 1:22). In this context “authority” implies ordination or the conferring of authority by the laying on of hands (Num. 27:18; 1 Tim. 4:14; Heb. 6:2). As Yeshua taught and performed miracles, the Jewish people hearing and witnessing this began to relate to him as a leader, teacher, and shepherd. Additionally, Yeshua related to them as a shepherd and teacher, as we read, “As Yeshua came ashore, He saw a large crowd and felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He taught them many things” (Mk. 6:34; cf. Matt. 9:36).
Still, Yeshua knew that his mission on earth would be short, as he would accomplish the work of salvation and ascend to heaven (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:51; Acts 1:9); so he prepared leaders to continue the mission of the Gospel as he went to prepare a place for us (Jn. 14:1-2). Those called and living today continue this chain of leadership. Not only those in the “pulpits,” but fathers, mothers, neighbors, strangers, children and people in all manner of labor continue to serve as disciple-leaders, being shepherded by under-shepherds of the flock, by the direction of Messiah Yeshua through the Holy Spirit.
While the Gospel is being witnessed to “in Jerusalem, and through all Judah, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts. 1:8; cf. Rev. 7:9) disciple-leaders are discipling the next generation of disciple-leaders for the cause of the Gospel in the name of Messiah Yeshua until his return. It matters not what position you may hold or duty you perform in this world, when Messiah called you to himself he authorized you to be his witness and to disciple those responding to the effectual calling of God by the hearing of the Gospel (Matt. 28:16-20).
Today many of our hearts are heavy-laden by a sense of meaninglessness or purposelessness to the events of daily life. People are looking for meaning, they are looking for purpose and somehow they feel left out of God’s plan. When each of us take to heart the message that we are all co-laborers, commissioned by Messiah, to the discipling of a new generation of Gospel workers, then we discover that our purpose is far greater than we could have ever imagined – as Messiah himself has entrusted us with his message, the purpose of his mission, and the hearts of his sheep – for his glory.
So whatever you do – art, music, numbers, media, cleaning, parenting, medicine, farming or whatever else is under the sun, do it for the Kingdom of God.
…And let us not worry about Moses, as Messiah didn’t leave him out of the Promised Land, but brought him in, to see the fulfillment of all that he wrote about (Matt. 17:1-4; Jn. 5:45-47) face to face.
Be well, shalom;
Dr. J.D. Elwell