Joshua, the son of Nun, was God’s handpicked choice. His choice for what? To step in and be the leader of the Israelites following Moses’ death.
The Lord had this crucial transition in mind long before it came to pass. He had even communicated His plan to the Israelites. God told Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him” (Deuteronomy 31:14). In this case, the Lord inaugurated Joshua via Moses, as Moses “laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 27:23). This all reminds us that nothing catches God by surprise! He knows the future as well as you and I see the past or present.
We also see the great need to train and prepare men to serve as leaders among God’s people. Before Joshua stepped up to be Israel’s leader, he first served as Moses’ assistant (Exodus 24:13). That was part of Joshua’s critical training. For the good of the entire nation of Israel, God told Moses, “But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see” (Deuteronomy 3:28). So, before Joshua took on the mantle of leading God’s people, God wanted him to be instructed, encouraged, and strengthened. That was another portion of Joshua’s preparation and training. The church needs to be doing that very thing today: training and preparing faithful brothers to be leaders. Let us not wait for another five years to begin, but do it right now!
There are times when God’s people have to face a transition in leadership. Moses admirably led Israel for forty years, but he could not live forever. Following his passing, Israel would need to accept the reality of the transition to Joshua. In preparing them for that moment, God had told Moses to lay hands on Joshua and give him authority so that the Israelites would obey him (Numbers 27:20). After Moses’ death, it would do no good for anyone to whine about not having Moses around like “back in the good old days.” We must not live in the past, but in the present, looking to a great future with our great God leading the way. Israel enjoyed a smooth, peaceful transition to Joshua, in part because (1) he had been prepared for the task and (2) the people had been prepared mentally for it as well.
From the new leader (Joshua), God’s people would need what they had gotten from the previous one (Moses). What was that? “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage . . .” (Deuteronomy 31:7). That is exactly the kind of men that we need leading God’s people today: strong and courageous!
— Roger D. Campbell