Moses is a biblical figure revered by all three of the Monotheistic religions. Regarded by the Jews as giving the law to Israel, one of the great prophets of Islam and for the Christian, the leader who prefigured Jesus the Messiah, stating in Deuteronomy 18:15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen”
Moses modelled a from of leadership that was shaped by the very people he had to lead. This initially reluctant leader brought the people out of Egypt and into the wilderness on route to the promised land. The lack of faith amongst the people and the constant need for settling dispute and giving advice led to a leadership model that might seem familiar today.
In Numbers 11:16-17 the Lord command Moses to recruit elders into leadership of the people.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone”
We have Moses the leader and beneath him elders who are to assist him in the leadership task and what an unenviable task it was, as scripture indicates throughout the exodus story.
Despite all the struggles of leadership, Moses knew that this model of leadership wasn’t the highest form of leadership in the spiritual life of men and in the Kingdom of God. He knew that his leadership was for his time in the wilderness with a people who would die in the desert because of a lack of faith. He knew the people he led did not have the indwelling Spirit of God to command their lives and they needed the law and hierarchical leadership to get them to the faith of the promised land. Moses knew the heart of God and understood that a time would come when God would command His own people directly by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in each individual and sharing life in the glorious Body of Jesus.
We see just such a moment in Numbers 11:29 – the elders had been called to meet before the Lord and some had remained in the camp. Those that had remained in the camp of Israel began to prophesy despite not attending the meeting. Moses was questioned about this event and stated
“Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!”
Moses understood the leadership role of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in His people and he expressed the very heart of God “that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them”
So what would Moses say about the present form of Church leadership that we see today? The common practice is for one man supported by a group of elders, leading the church as the “first amongst equals” and this is essentially the leadership model of Moses.
Moses understood that a time would come when all God’s people would be led by the Spirit of Jesus dwelling in their lives and leading them into all truth. He knew that there would be a need for leaders but not leaders who led by the model of Moses. These New Covenant leaders would be servants of the people and those that have opted to climb down the ladder to lead by the example of obedience to Christ. This is the highest form of leadership which has no dominion over the family but gives itself to sacrifice and surrender all they have for the body. These leaders or elders are accepted by brothers and sisters as those that are able to teach, serve and give an example of obedience to Christ in complete surrender to the needs of the Body.
There are some wonderful leaders who have started the journey of leadership after the model of Jesus but who are constantly being drawn by our present system to the leadership model of Moses. Pray for these men.
So what would Moses say about the way many of the people of God are led today? Well I think you can answer that question yourself. The question I would like to ask you is simple
Do you need the leadership of the wilderness or will you seek the leadership of the promised land? Because in truth its for us to chose who we will follow – a man or Jesus!
Deuteronomy 18:15 15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen”