Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Passing the Torch

The Bible readings for the season are still going through Moses and his leading the Israelites to the promised land. Last Sunday's talk was about how hard it must have been for Moses to have to give up his job to Joshua and to know that he would not enter the new land. I imagine that the last part might have been a disappointment to him, but...

Moses was now 120 years old. He had spent the past forty years wandering in the desert trying to lead the Israelites. This involved repeated fasting and prayer to keep God from killing them when they disobeyed. I don't think I could fast for forty days (giving up chocolate is about my limit), but Moses had to do so repeatedly. After living like this from age 80 to 120, I would expect him to be ready to retire and pass the job on. Also, he was going to die within the year, which really does require you to give up your job.

There was also a problem with the "promised land." It already had people living there: people who wanted to keep it and were willing to fight to do so. What the Israelites needed now was a war-leader, not a superannuated prophet. They needed someone like Joshua. It was time for Moses to pass the burden on to someone else. If he wasn't totally exhausted and ready to do so by then, he would have to have been superhuman, and there's no suggestion anywhere in the Bible that Moses was anything but a fallible human whom God had chosen for this job.