Today’s reading begins with Moses’ final blessing upon the people of Israel and concludes with the Joshua assuming command of the leadership of Israel.
After 40 years of leading the people of Israel through the Wilderness to the gateway of the land of promise, Moses I’m sure had many things he could have said to the people of Israel. All of the heartache that the people had caused him I’m sure gave him ample material to use in his final words to the people, but instead of criticism, Moses offered blessing to the people.
Each of the tribes of Israel received words of blessing from Moses just shortly before his death. He knew that there would yet be many difficult days ahead for the people, and he felt the best legacy he could leave them in terms of parting words was a blessing from him to them for their prosperity and well being. Moses was truly one of the world’s greatest leaders. Setting aside his godly legacy, even from a secular perspective, leading millions of people through a desert for 40 years would have been no easy task for any leader. Some of the world’s greatest leaders may have failed in this journey, but Moses succeeded.
After Moses’ final words to the people of Israel, he passed away on top of Mount Nebo. After the people of Israel mourned the death of a great leader, it was time for another great leader to take the helm. While Moses led Israel in battle on a number of occasions in their journey through the Wilderness, it would fall to Joshua to lead Israel in the conquest and settling of the Promised Land.
What’s most surprising about Joshua assuming leadership of the people of Israel was the willingness of the people grant him the position. Israel had consistency questioned the leadership credentials of Moses throughout his life. The commissioning of Joshua, signified the first chance for the people to get away from the legacy of the leadership of Moses if they had found it to be insufficient. God was truly in control at this point, and Joshua must have had the gravitas that Moses may have lacked due to his inability to speak eloquently.
It was now time to conquer the land and Joshua was God’s chosen man for the task.