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Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Topic: Leadership of Jospeh, Moses, Joshua and Deborah
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Narrate the story of Joseph,
ii. Identify Joseph’s major talents and how he used them for God,
iii. Explain what enabled Joseph to be successful as a good leader,
iv. Compare Joseph’s leadership style with what is common today,
v. Describe the major events of Moses’s early life,
vi. Identify his personal and leadership qualities,
vii. Explain why Moses was a successful leader,
ix. Discuss why and how Joshua succeeded Moses,
x. Discuss why Deborah was chosen as leader,
xi. Identify her leadership qualities and discuss how she use them,
xii. Examine how successful leadership may be determined by prevailing conditions.
To lead means to guide, conduct, persuade and direct affairs for the purpose of achieving a set of goals. Therefore, leadership entails possessing certain qualities or potentials that enables one to perform some of these functions in people’s lives. For the purpose of this topic, we will be focusing on four great leaders of Israel to know how their actions influenced the lives of the people and the qualities they possessed that enabled them to be successful.
Joseph As A Leader (Number 13:16 – 33; 14:1 – 10; 27:15 – 23; Joshua 1:1 – 15; 6; 24:1 – 31)
Joseph’s father was Jacob and his mother was Rachael. He was seventeen years old when he was keeping his father’s flock with his brothers – the son’s of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph’s brothers hated him for the fact that he took an ill report against his brothers to their father while they were tending the flock. Again, Jacob loved him more than any of his children, because he was the son of his old age; for this reason, he made for him a long robe with sleeves. All these attracted hatred from his brothers against him. Also, the relationship was further worsened by the two dreams Joseph had which he told his brothers. In the first one, he said to his brothers:
“Hear this dream which I have dreamed: behold we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose and stood upright; and behold your sheaves gathered round it, and bowed down to my sheaf”. (Genesis 37:7)
When his brothers heard this, they hated him the more. Again, he had another dream and told both his father and his brothers, “Behold I have dreamed another dream; and behold the sun, moon, and eleven star were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9). His father rebuked him for this and kept saying in his mind, but this brothers took the issue more seriously. They sought an opportunity to put him to death. This opportunity came when they were pasturing the flock at Schechem and their father sent him to go and see how they were faring. As his brothers saw him at a distance, they conspired to kill him. They said to themselves:
“Here comes this dreamer; come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild beast has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:19 – 20).
When Reuben heard this, he suggested casting him into a pot with intention of changing his brothers’ plan. He felt this would give him the opportunity to rescue him and end him back to his father. They agreed with him and did as he suggested but later, when Reuben was not there, they brought him out of the pit and sold him out to some Midianite traders for twenty shekels of silver. When the traders got to Egypt, they resold Joseph to Potiphar, an Egyptian army officer. While in Potiphar’s house, he served diligently and honestly and this prompted Potiphar to make him the head of his household. He was later sent to prison because Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape. While in prison, he interacted well with the other prisoners and interpreted dreams for them. This was what subsequently led to his release from the prison.
After two years in the prison, he interpreted dreams for Pharoah who had two dreams. In the first, Pharoah saw seven cows gaunt and these came out of the Nile and ate up seven other sleek and fat cows. In the second dream, Pharoah saw seven ears of tin and blighted grain from the east wind swallow up another seven plumb and full ears. Pharoah was frightened by this dream and he called the magicians and the wise men in Egypt to give him the interpretation, but they could not.
Then the chief butler whom Joseph had earlier interpreted a dream for when they were together in the prison remembered Joseph and recommended him to Pharoah. Joseph was brought out of the dungeon to Pharoah. With the spirit of God in him, he gave Pharoah perfect interpretation of the dream. He informed Pharoah that both dreams were one. The seven good cows and ears both represented seven years of abundance while the seven lean and gaunt cows and seven empty ears blighted by the east wind indicated seven years of famine. Joseph pointed out that the famine would be so severe that the years of bountiful harvest would be forgotten. He then made recommendations to Pharoah on how to save the situation.
Due to the fact that Joseph was a man of immense intelligence and the only one whom God had given the wisdom to interpret the dream, Pharoah appointed him as the second in command in Egypt and put him in charge of storage and distribution of grains. The famine was so great that it extended to other lands including Canaan where Joseph’s brothers and father, Jacob, were residing. It was the need to purchase grains that brought them to meet Joseph in Egypt. Joseph forgave his brothers and the whole family was united again.
Major Talents Of Joseph
i. Joseph was a man of immense intelligence with special spiritual gift of interpretation of dreams. He was equally a dreamer and it was his dreams that brought him hatred from his brothers.
ii. Joseph was a good leader. He performed the assignment of storage and distribution of grains which he was given in Egypt by Pharoah so well that other nations of the world benefitted from it.
iii. Despite the wickedness of his brothers, he forgave them instead of taking vengeance against them. He attributed their action to an act of God to fulfill his destiny (Genesis 45:5). This portrayed him as a good leader.
iv. He respected God in all his actions- this was why he refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife.
v. He was friendly with people; he interacted well with his fellow prisoners and interpreted dreams for them and this was what made the chief butler recommend him to Pharoah.
vi. He had a high sense of humor and. He acknowledged God as the owner of the divine wisdom in him (Genesis 41:16).
vii. When compared with the present day leaders, Joseph’s leadership was exemplary in the sense that he demonstrated high level of honesty, integrity, fear of the Lord and forgiveness (he avoided vengeance).
Lessons To Learn
The lessons to be learnt from the life and leadership style of Joseph are:
i. God turns disappointment, frustration and misfortune to blessing when one trusts and believes in Him just as Joseph trusted and believed in the God he served. This fact was made clear in his statement to his brothers when he told them that you meant evil against me but God meant it for good.
ii. Christians should always humble themselves and be at peace with everybody because they do not know who God will use to bless them. It was the chief butler that recommended Joseph to Pharoah because they had a good relationship while they were together in prison.
iii. Leaders should be men of integrity, honesty and humility and they should always be ready to serve. Looking at most acclaimed leaders of today, dishonesty, recklessness and vengeance are exhibited by them in their mode of leadership.
iv. No human effort can stop one’s destiny once one trusts and serves God diligently.
Moses As A Leader (Exodus 1,2,3, 4:1 – 17, 5:1 – 5, 22 – 23, 6:28 – 30, 7:1 – 7; 14:1 – 31; 32:1 – 14, Numbers 13:1 – 13, 14:1 – 19)
The Birth And Call Of Moses
After the death of Joseph in Egypt, a new Pharoah who did not know Joseph arose. He was exceedingly afraid of the increase in the population of the Israelites in the land of Egypt. The king therefore devised obnoxious ways of dealing with them. He made the Israelites to serve with rigour and bitterness. As if this was not enough, he instructed the midwives to kill their sons at birthstool. The midwives feared God and did not hearken to this instruction. He therefore, commanded his people that every son born to the Israelites should be cast into the river Nile.
It was at this critical period that Moses was born by a couple from the tribe of Levi. When Moses was born, the mother tried to hide him for three months but when she could no longer hide him for three months but when she could no longer hide him, she made a basket of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen pitch before she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river’s bank. Pharoah’s daughter saw the child and adopted him as her baby. She picked the child and unknowingly gave him to the mother to nurse for her for a wage. The woman (Moses’s mother) finished nursing the baby and handed him over to Pharoah’s daughter who named the boy Moses, for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” Moses grew up in the house of Pharoah, but was conscious of the fact that he was a Hebrew and he hated the wicked treatment of his people by the Egyptians. This made him kill an Egyptian who was fighting with a Hebrew. On another occasion, he saw two Hebrews struggling together and he attempted to separate them, but one of them said, “who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? By this statement, Moses knew that his killing of the Egyptian was no longer a secret. Pharoah heard about the case and determined to eliminate Moses. He, therefore, fled to Midian.
There in the land of Midianite, he found favour with the priest of Midian, Reuel (Jethro). Jethro gave him one of his daughters, Zipporah for a wife. While Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, he came to Mount Horeb where an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the form of a flame of fire in the midst of a bush. God called him out of the bush:
“Moses, Moses! Do not come near, out off your shoes from your feet for the place on which you are standing is a holy ground.” (Exodus 3:4 – 5)
This occasion marked the call of Moses to lead the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt. Moses gave a lot of excuses why he might not be able to lead the Israelites but God assured him that He would be with him and He would perform a lot of signs and wonders that would change Pharoah’s mind to let the Israelites go (Exodus 3:20)
The Leading Of The Israelites By Moses
Moses was reluctant to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he felt by would not believe that God actually appeared to him. God, therefore, gave him series of signs that he should perform to convince the people. As he complained that he was not eloquent, God gave him Aaron to assist him. Attempt by Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt met with stiff opposition from Pharoah because God had determined to harden his (Pharoah) heart in order to bring untold suffering on the Egyptians. The Lord afflicted the Egyptians with a lot of plagues before Pharoah reluctantly allowed the Israelites to go. As soon as he let them go, he pursued them again to bring them back because God had hardened his heart so that he would achieve victory over him and his host (Exodus 14:14).
As the Egyptians drew near, the Israelites were afraid. They accused Moses that he deliberately wanted them to die in the wilderness, but Moses comforted them when he said:
“Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today; you shall never see again.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13 – 14)
God instructed Moses to stretch his rod over the red sea. Moses stretched his rod over the sea; the sea was divided and the Israelites passed through on a dry land. The Egyptians pursued them into the sea. God commanded Moses to stretch his rod again over the sea and the sea closed. All the Egyptian soldiers got drowned in the sea.
Having successfully delivered the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, God fulfilled the covenant He had made with their father, Abraham. God decided to further establish another covenant with Israel as a nation. This culminated in the Ten commandments which were read to the people and they wholeheartedly agreed to abide by them. When Moses went up to the mountain and he stayed long, due to impatience, the people cajoled Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship as their god. By this act, they broke the first commandment and sinned against God. God threatened to wipe them out and make a nation of Moses (Exodus 14:10). Moses interceded for them and God forgave them, but it was not without punishment, because due to this rebellion, about three thousand of them died.
The Israelites rebelled against God for the second time when twelve people sent out by Moses to spy the promised Land and came back. Ten of them brought what the Bible described as evil report and this made the people murmur against God. Ten out of the twelve men reported that the Israelites were like grasshoppers before the occupants of the land. Despite the words of encouragement that came from Caleb and Joshua, the people still did not believe in the omnipotent power of God. They did not bother to consider the signs and wonders God had performed in the past to deliver them from Egypt. God, therefore, threatened to wipe them out and make a great nation of Moses. Moses, however, did not succumb to this offer from God, but he interceded for the people and this point to his exceptional leadership qualities. God finally forgave them, although not without punishment. Their journey to the promised Land was prolonged from 40 days to 40 years as a result of their rebellious moves.
Moses’ Qualities As A Leader
i. Moses was a very patriotic nationalist that rendered selfless services to his people.
ii. All that mattered to him was the interest of his people and not his own interest. Twice, God threatened to wipe the Israelites out and make a great nation of the descendants of Moses, but he refused this and interceded for the people.
iii. He was courageous in facing the challenges from Pharoah.
iv. He was very obedient and jad strong faith in the God he was serving.
v. Moses was a leader with high sense of humility; he knew how to manage crisis. On several occasions, the Israelites rebelled against him, but he managed the crisis efficiently.
vi. Moses’ courage and his obedience to God’s instructions made him succeed in his leadership roles.
vii. Moses was never discouraged, despite all the problems he encountered both from Pharoah and the Israelites themselves.
Difficulties In Leading Stubborn People
It is difficult to lead people, especially those who are very difficult to be pleased or satisfied. This was shown by the actions of the Israelites. Things that should have been easy were made difficult, for example, it was the murmuring of the Israelites in the wilderness that prolonged their journey. A journey they would have completed in 40 days took 40 years.
Lessons To Learn
i. Like Moses, Christians should demonstrate high sense of patriotism and render selfless services whenever they are called upon to lead people.
ii. Christians should be humble and tolerant as Moses was to his people. Christians should be obedient and take instructions work diligently.
iii. As Christians, we should respect, fear and depend on God to guide us in all our ways.
Joshua As A Leader (Numbers 13:16 – 33; 14:1 – 10; 27:15 – 23, Joshua 1:1 – 15; 6; 24:1 – 31)
As Moses was growing old, he prayed to God to appoint a leader to replace him, so that Israel would not be without a leader. The Lord instructed Moses to take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom was the spirit of leadership and lay his hand upon him. Then, he should let him stand before Eleazer, the priest and the entire congregation commission him in their presence and then invest in him some of his authorities so that all the congregation of Israel would obey him. Moses did exactly the Lord commanded him and Joshua took over the mantle of leadership.
(a) The Role of Joshua in the Story of the Twelve Spies
Moses selected twelve spies to spy the land of Canaan. Joshua, son of Nun was one of them. They were instructed to find out whether they would be able to conquer it or not. When the spies came back, there was disparity in the report because there was a division among them. The major report presented by ten of the spies dismayed the people and they wished they could go back to Egypt instead of being consumed by the giants in the land of Canaan.
Joshua and Caleb presented the minority report. Their report was a favourable one, although the people did not believe in it. In their report, they said that the land which they had spied out was a very good land. If the Lord delighted in them, they would be in the land which they said flowed with milk and honey. Joshua warned them not to rebel against the Lord. He disabused their minds and cautioned them not to fear the people of the land. He strengthened their courage that the Canaanites would be like food to them if God was with them.
God commanded Moses to appoint Joshua as his (Moses) successor because Joshua was valiant and charismatic. He possessed all that a man requires to be a good leader. He feared and trusted God. This was shown in the report he presented. Moses ordained him by laying his hand upon him.
(b) Lessons for the Church Leaders
i. Many of our church leaders today fear certain people in the church probably because of their riches and wealth. Joshua did not fear the people, he reported the situation of things as they were. The church leaders of today should say what they see without fear or favour.
ii. The church leaders of today should fear God and trust in Him. God is the over-all controller of the universe.
iii. The church leaders should copy the outstanding qualities possessed by Joshua for the role he played among the twelve spies.
iv. The church leaders should not think of what people would say, no matter the situation, even at the point of death.
Joshua Takes Over The Leadership Of Israel
Shortly after the death of Moses, the Lord called Joshua and assured him of victory and success in his leadership assignments. He further advised Joshua on the way he should work in order to have good success. God told Joshua
“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall make your way prosperous and then shall have good success” (Joshua 1:8)
God instructed Joshua on his new assignment, which was leading the Israelites across River Jordan to take possession of the land. The city of Jericho was their target. The city of Jericho had been shut up from within because of the people of Israel. Nobody in the city went in or out.
The Conquest Of Jericho
God gave Joshua a master plan for the capture of Jericho which was strictly adhered to by him. The assault started with a possession led by armed men of war, followed by seven priests with seven trumpets, while another group of priests formed the rear guard bearing the ark of the Lord and simultaneously the trumpets blew continually as the procession marched around the city of Jericho once a day for six days. After each march, they came into the camp and spent the night there. There, they were warned not to shout until Joshua gave them the order to shout. On the seventh day, they rose early and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. At the seventh time, when the priest had blown the trumpet, Joshua commanded the people to shout, adding that the Lord had given them the city. Immediately, the people shouted and trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the trumpet, they raised a great shout and the well fell down flat. The people went straight into the city and took it. Joshua then instructed the people to destroy the city with fire and this was done. But Rahab, the harlot who spared the two spies, together with her household, were not destroyed. Also, precious stones like gold and silver and vessels of bronze were kept in the Lord’s treasury.
Lessons To Learn From The Conquest Of Jericho
i. The Omnipotent power of God was demonstrated; with God everything is possible, nothing is beyond God’s power.
ii. God is ready to fight for His people, if we trust in Him at all time. The emphasis is on trust.
iii. Joshua is presented as a man of faith in God. He did not doubt God.
iv. Obedience: Joshua obeyed God’s command. This led to his success.
v. God uses people no matter their conditions (e.g Rahab, the harlot).
Joshua Rededicates The Israelites To The Service Of God
When Joshua was about to die like Moses, he rededicated the people to the service of God. The people promised never to serve any other God and Joshua made a covenant with them to keep the statutes and ordinances. After this, Joshua wrote everything down in the book of the law of God. He died at the age of one hundred and ten.
Why Joshua Succeeded As A Leader
i. Joshua succeeded Moses because he was courageous and he had strong faith in God. He demonstrated this by the speech he made to the Israelites when Moses sent them to spy the promised Land (Exodus 14:19).
ii. Like Moses, he followed detailed instruction of God, and of course God always warned him before hand (Joshua 1:8). Joshua demonstrated this in his conquest of Jericho. He was prepared to obey God’s instruction and this made him succeed as a leader.
iii. He was level-headed and prepared to learn and fellow the footsteps of his predecessor, Moses. Just as Moses spied Canaan, he too first of all spied Jericho before attacking the city. Again, like Moses before his death, he rededicated the people to the service of God.
Lessons To learn
i. As demonstrated by Jericho, Christians are expected to work by faith and not by sight. When Joshua and his colleagues went to spy Canaan, the other made their own report based on the physical appearance of the people they saw, but Joshua’s report was based on faith and confidence in the omnipotent power of God. This attracted the love of God for him. As the Bible says, without faith, it is impossible to please God.
ii. Joshua trusted the Lord and followed the instruction of God and this was why he succeeded.
iii. Christians should always study the word of God, meditate on it and obey the instructions and their ways will be prosperous just as God told Joshua (Joshua 1:8).
Deborah As A Leader (Judges 4:1 – 24)
Four years after the death of Joshua the Israelites were ruled by judges, they had no king. These judges, in most cases, were either prophets or prophetess and God often raised them particularly when there was problems in Israel. After the death of Ehud, Deborah took over as one of the judges in Israel. She was the wife of Lappidoth and a prophetess. According to the Bible, she used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the Hill country of Ephraim where the people of Israel came to her for judgement.
At the time of Deborah, Israel was under the oppression of Jabin, king of Canaan. Israel consulted Deborah for solution over this problem. Deborah invited Barak, a warrior in Israel and informed him that he was the one God was going to use liberate Israel from the oppression of Jabin. Barak requested that Deborah should go with him. Deborah, being a courageous woman accepted and accompained Barak to the battle and Israel brought the Canaan army under the command of Sisera (Jabin’s commander) to complete humilation. Sisera ran to a woman, Jael for protection but the woman eventually killed him and Israel was liberated from the hand of the Canaanites.
Leadership Qualities Of Deborah
i. Israel was under the oppression of Jabin, the king of Canaan for twenty years before God raised Deborah as a judge over Israel. Through her, God instructed Barak to fight Sisera. The army commander of Jabin. Deborah being a courageous woman with great confidence in God accompanied Barak to the battlefield and Israel defended Sisera and his soldiers. Israel was liberated from the oppression.
ii. For Deborah to be a judge in Israel that had no regard for women and for her judgement to be respected in such society was evidence of her leadership quality. She was a woman of rare quality, with a high level of honesty and integrity. Above all, she was courageous and patriotic, hence she accepted to accompany Barak to battle to liberate Israel from oppression.
iii. She was a successful leader because through her, the immediate problem of Israel which was oppression by King Jabin of Canaan was solved.
Lessons To Learn
i. Deborah’s achievement as a leader is a pointer that gender difference is not a limitation to leadership. This implies that with determination, women in the church can aspire to any position and succeed.
ii. Honesty, integrity and uprightness are qualities which a leader must demonstrate in order to succeed.
Ways Women can Contribute to National Development
i. Women take part in politics and formation of government policies.
ii. Women contribute to government’s various programmes for rural and urban women, e.g Better Life for Rural Women, Family Support Programme, etc.
iii. Women take part in business and economic development.
iv. Englightened women demonstrate equal abilities with men in education, law, politics, transportation, etc.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
i. Narrate the story of Joseph in Canaan and indicate how he came to assume leadership role in Egypt. Give any two leadership qualities you find in him.
ii. Describe how Joshua was elected as Moses’ successor. Mention two previous associations of Moses and Joshua.
iii. Describe the role of Joshua in the story of the twelve spies indicating the reason why God chose him to succeed Moses. What lesson can church leaders learn from this story?
iv. Describe how Deborah led her people to victory. Mention three ways by which women today are contributing towards national development.
v. Identify Joseph’s talent and show how he applied them as a leader.
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