Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:15-17)
Knowing that he was soon to die, Moses began to entreat the LORD for a successor. As we know that man was Joshua the son of Nun. But notice that Moses had a certain standard in mind when it came to his successor — he desired that God would raise up a man who would “lead them out and bring them in.” That is understood to mean, he desired that their leader would be courageous and strong enough to lead them in war and, at the same time, be gentle and caring enough to shepherd them in peacetime.
It is always been my opinion that the best of leaders are those who lead by example. This is particularly true in times of battle — it says a lot about a person’s character when they are willing to lead from the front rather than remain in the back and leave the danger to others. But as a shepherd, it is understood that he will also be their rearguard. In other words, sheep are not led by a man in the front but are guided by a man who walks behind them.
In a manner of speaking, Moses is asking God to raise up an earthly leader who will guide His people in the same way God guides us all. Not only does He go before us but also acts as our rearguard. He is our beginning and our end, our first and our last. We look to Him to fight our battles as well as lead us into quiet pastures and allow us to lie by still waters. If this is the way He leads us, then should not the people of the LORD be guided by those who strive to replicate these attributes? Such is the prayer of a man who had a shepherd’s heart — no wonder God chose him to lead His people.
Blessings and Shalom,