Wednesday, January 23, 2008

History of Government (4) - Moses

A new role of military leader emerged with Moses. During 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Israel has developed into a nation. God chose Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt into the promised land. This would not be easy, because the Egyptians did not want to lose their slaves, the Canaanites did not want to lose their land and the nations in between were afraid of the nation on the move. Moses was primarily a military leader with responsibility for leading the armies of Israel into the new land. This was the first time that the tribes of Israel acted together to form a combined army.

Moses had been trained as a leader in Egypt, but after a false start he escaped to wilderness, where he was called by God. The calling was clear.

The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey... So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt" (Ex 3:7-10).
God appointed Moses to be a military leader to bring the nation out of Egypt into the Promised Land. He was not called to be a king and his position was not a permanent one. Moses died when he had led Israel up to the edge of the promised land. Joshua was anointed to take Moses’ place and finish the task (Deut 31:1-8). With God’s help, Joshua conquered the promised land by defeating the kings in the South and then the kings of the North. He then divided the land among the tribes and families. The completed the task that Moses had begun.

No successor was appointed for Joshua (Jos 23). The reason is that the task that Moses started was now completed. Israel no longer needed a military leader. God had promised that if Israel obeyed him, he would keep them safe from their enemies (Deut 28:1-7). The Moses/Joshua model was not the optimal form of government. It was a temporarily military leadership model for a unique situation, which has not occurred again.

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