Josh’s Big Mistake
“Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the oak tree beside the Tabernacle of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the LORD said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”
Josh had some big shoes to fill. Moses had led the people out of slavery by going head-to-head with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses parted the Red Sea. He brought water out of a rock in the wilderness. Moses prayed in food for them as they wandered in the wilderness.
Moses knew that he would not be around forever, though, and he prepared and trained his assistant, Joshua, to take charge after he was gone. It was Josh who led the Hebrews into the Promised Land. By all accounts, Joshua was a brave and fearless leader. He led from the front during the military campaigns and provided solid leadership during his lifetime. He guided the people into the land that God had promised them. He was a strong and stable leader in those early days of nationhood.
Josh made one large and glaring mistake, however. He did not raise up someone to take his place as Moses had done with him. This mistake had long and lasting implications for the Hebrews. At the end of his life, he warned the people of what would happen if they turned away from God. He even gave his famous, “Choose this day whom you will serve” speech. He then set up a rock altar as a reminder of the covenant between the people and their God.
After Joshua’s death, the Twelve Tribes entered the time known as the Period of the Judges. “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’s sight and worshiped the images of Baal. They abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They chased after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the LORD.”
I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if instead of setting up a rock altar, Joshua had set up a leader that he had trained and mentored as Moses had done with him. The time of the Judges was one of the darkest and most depressing times of Israel’s history. The Judges provided sporadic leadership but one gets the feeling that they were leading by default. Good leadership is no guarantee that the people would stay on the straight and narrow path. No leadership, however, is a recipe for disaster.
Who would you say has had the most influence on you as a leader?
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