Focal Passage: Numbers 27:12-23
You know the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make converts. …” If you’re familiar with Matthew 28:19 you’re aware that is wrong. Jesus calls His followers to make disciples, not converts. To be clear, conversion is a biblical, necessary experience (Acts 15:3).
The Oxford dictionary defines conversion as, “a change in one’s religious beliefs.” Trusting Christ is so much more than a change in a belief system. Christ-followers should identify themselves as disciples who make disciples.
What does this have to do with Moses and Joshua? The kind of relationship that Moses and Joshua display is built into the word “disciple.” The word itself calls for the existence of a teacher and a learner.
As followers of Jesus we must recognize how God helps us grow. God has designed discipleship to manifest itself through relationships between people. Those who are mature in their faith are to teach the less mature. Why aren’t more mature believers involved in this kind of discipleship relationship? Numbers 27, while obviously in the Old Testament, contains some helpful principles related to current-day discipleship.
Let’s explore our passage to discover answers for some excuses people give when confronted with the call to make disciples.
Excuse 1: “Discipleship is the church’s job.” I believe in Sunday School, discipleship training, and corporate worship. But we shouldn’t make programs for what God has made about people.
Notice that God chose Joshua to take over for Moses and that Moses was to lay his hands on him (v. 18). This signified to the people that the power and authority that Moses had was being passed on to Joshua. This public moment of blessing is an overt expression of what had been happening between Moses and Joshua for some time (Exodus 24:13).
Imagine all the lessons Joshua learned as he stood by Moses’ side as he mediated Israel’s relationship with the Lord. You can uphold your church’s discipleship programs by investing in someone personally. You could ask your pastor about some new believers in your church and simply invite them alongside as you follow Christ.
Excuse 2: “I’m flawed.” Many believers have a perspective of personal insufficiency that keeps them from investing in others. You ask yourself, “I’ve got so many challenges, how could I possibly lead someone else?” Moses was anything but a perfect example for Joshua. In fact our passage begins with Moses being reminded of a failure (v. 14).
Moses would have had many opportunities to share his stories of failure and restoration. Wouldn’t those be some of the most profound lessons that Moses could have shared with his “disciple”? Some of the most significant ways you can help others is to share the ways you’ve struggled, been restored, and have grown.
Excuse 3: “I don’t have the time.” This one is simple. Ask yourself, what if Moses hadn’t invested in Joshua? Then Moses’ fears would have come to fruition, the sheep would have been left without a shepherd (v. 17).
The church needs to raise up the next generation of leaders and you can be a part of that by investing in others. We make time for the things we value the most. We should hold the future of the Kingdom with the highest regards. Who can you disciple today to ensure there is a leader for tomorrow? B&R