Model Mentoring: Moses and Joshua

by Julie Barrier

Passing the baton is an art. Whether it’s the synchronicity of an Olympic relay team, the power transfer from one regime to the next, or the transition of CEO leadership in a major corporation, passing the baton is a challenge. The scriptures are filled with guidance for this delicate task. Moses the deliverer pre- pared Joshua to lead Israel. Elijah the prophet passed the mantle of power to Elisha. John the Baptist prepared the Jews for the coming Jesus. Jesus the Messiah trained the twelve to evangelize the world. Paul the mentor created a seminary course to train Timothy. Let’s examine these “great transitions” and learn how we can leave a legacy for the next generation.


Moses, God’s chosen deliverer, marched millions of Jews across the sandy desert from slavery to freedom. Then Moses took young Joshua and pre- pared him to lead the Jews across the Jordan into the Promised Land. Moses instilled confidence and vision in Joshua. Numbers 13 details the account of Israelite spies reporting their findings to Moses on the feasibility of defeating the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Only Caleb and Joshua declared that the conquest of Canaan was doable. The rest of the team only saw the obstacles. Joshua and Caleb only saw the possibilities. Before Joshua was sent to search out Canaan, his name was Hoshea, Hebrew for salvation. After his demonstration of faith and passion in Numbers 14:6-9, Moses gave Hoshea a new name. He called him Joshua, the Hebrew word for “YAHWEH is my salvation.”

Moses re-named Joshua and affirmed him in his calling to follow him as Israel’s leader. When Moses ascended Mount Sinai, young Joshua was at his side (Exodus 24:13-14). Joshua witnessed firsthand the power and glory of God on Sinai. He marveled at Moses’ shining face. Moses poured into his successor affirmation, acceptance, respect and love. So when it was time to lead Israel across the Jordan to claim the Promised Land, Joshua listened to God and obeyed:

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them — to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:1-5 NIV

Moses had confidence in Joshua. So Israel trusted Joshua’s leadership as well. When it came time to cross the Jordan:

“Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you.” Joshua 1:16-17 NIV

  • List some people in your life who have accepted, affirmed and respected you. How did their kindness make you feel? What are some things you have been able to accomplish because of their encouragement?
  • When did you begin to “own” your own faith? Did you make the transition Hoshea did from “salvation” to “God is my salvation?” What were the circumstances that allowed you to make that leap of faith? If you are still struggling to understand how to know Jesus personally, find a pastor or a mature Christian whom you trust, and ask for their counsel.
  • Who are some young Christians that you can encourage? Look for the strengths that you see in their lives. Tell them the ways you see God using them in His work.

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