On Joshua’s last day he gathered the elders of Israel and explained, “I am old, advanced in years, and today I am going the way of all the earth.”
He was 110 years old, he was done, and he had three important instructions for the people he had led into Canaan:
I. I have done my job, you all have your inheritance, now all of you be strong and take leadership over what God has given you.
2. Hold fast to God and His Law.
3. If you turn to love the gods, women, and money of the world around you, God will destroy you so subtly you won’t even notice.
Backsliders don’t notice, until years later, that they are living under a curse, and then they’ll call out to God for help. Both blessing and the curses advance over time. It took two long generations to get from the bondage of Egypt to this day, and Joshua is still telling his people, “I have divided all these nations as your inheritance but you need to be very courageous, hold fast to God, and drive out any remaining enemies.” They still had work to do.
But Joshua didn’t appoint a successor, nor did Eleazar. They never said why, but Israel was now in the promised land, everybody was talking to God, and now anybody could stand up and be a leader in whatever needed to be done – just like today, anybody can stand up and be a leader.
If you don’t need a successor, don’t appoint one. Appointing a hierarchy to protect your vision into the next generation won’t, it’ll stop potential leaders and stifle expansion. During the 400 years after Joshua many great leaders rose up, and we can learn from all of them.
Sunday night we heard a very inspiring message about one particular leader who rose up in the post Joshua era, I’ll try to get that in print for you next week.