“Encourage [Joshua], because he will lead Israel to inherit [the land].”
— Deuteronomy 1:38
If you have become an expert in your work, how you would feel if someone younger and less experienced were chosen to take up your role?
Moses had led God’s people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea (Exodus 1-15). He had received God’s law and taught it to the people (Exodus 20-50), and by God’s grace he had brought them to the edge of the promised land. But the people had rebelled, and God had turned them back to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 13-14). Now they were about to enter the promised land again, but Moses would not be leading them in. God had chosen Joshua to do that instead.
In Deuteronomy, Moses gives his farewell address, and here he says God told him to “encourage” Joshua. More literally, this means “strengthen.” But couldn’t God have given Joshua all the strength he needed? Was that a bit like rubbing salt in Moses’ wounds?
This seems counterintuitive at first, but it is actually a great gift to Moses to be the one to strengthen or encourage Joshua. As Moses empowers Joshua in front of everyone, Joshua steps in to continue Moses’ success rather than just being his replacement. Joshua’s success becomes part of Moses’ legacy.
How might you encourage and strengthen someone taking up the role you have had?
Lord, grant us success where you want us to serve, and help us to raise up people to continue your work after us. Amen.