We tend to idolize our leaders. We think of them as far greater than ourselves. In our present day, we can look back on all the technology innovations people helped create like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. When it comes to the bible, we see Moses in the Old Testament as an amazing prophet leading the Israelites on an incredible Exodus from Egypt. We see Moses obey God and strike a rock and water comes out of it (Exodus 17:1-7). Moses spends time in the presence of God and his face shines as a result (Exodus 34). When Moses was about to die, his protege and apprentice Joshua was selected to take his place. So we'd expect great things from his successor. Indeed, when the people of Israel follow Joshua to take possession of the promised land, they walk through a river that stops flowing as soon as they enter it (Joshua 3:7-17). These are miraculous things that God is doing through his chosen leaders.
How can I ever live up to examples like Moses or Joshua? How will I go slay my giants like David did? In truth, I don't want to have men like this as my goal or standard. I'm going to fail miserably to live up to that.
But maybe, just maybe, we weren't supposed to think quite so highly of these men. In fact, I find hope when I see a much younger Joshua back during the time while Moses was still leading the people. In Numbers 11, God gave the elders of Israel the ability to prophesy while away from camp. But two of these elders were still back in the camp while they prophesied. And guess what, Joshua didn't like it. Here is the verse that describes his reaction, "And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them." Numbers 11:28.
"Stop them." If we step back and look at this, Joshua didn't want men to speak the word of God in the camp. He thought it improper and that only Moses should have that privilege. Wow. Wisely, Moses corrected his apprentice by saying, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!" Moses recognizes that anytime God's Spirit is present, it is a good thing.
Our biblical heroes aren't as perfect as we may have first thought. Moses murdered someone, Joshua wanted to stop people from prophesying, King David committed adultery and commissioned murder to cover it up. One of Jesus' disciples Peter denied even knowing Jesus.
Instead, we should realize that our ultimate example is Jesus. He lived the flawless life that none of our Old Testament heroes ever fully reached. Our faith in him means that he is not only our example, but more importantly, our Savior. He doesn't just "show us" a better way as an example. He goes further as he leads and guides us into the better way as Savior. He brings us into the very presence of God. His death pays the penalty for our sins. His resurrections is God's statement that Jesus is the one who doesn't deserve death. Graciously, anyone in Christ will receive this same resurrection one day.