Josephus was a Hebrew historian who also served as a priest before he became known as a recorder of history. His work is valued because he had access to writings that are no longer in existence; therefore his work offers us additional insights and shadings to the Biblical record.
Among his account of Moses’ and the Israelites trek toward the Promised Land, we are presented with a description of Moses’ leadership. Though brief, Josephus’ portrait offers us a model of what a leader of God’s people should be.
We are told by the Scriptures that Moses was -
“…very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" ( Numbers 12:3).
Meekness is a characteristic that is highly esteemed by the Lord. The Lord dwells with those who are of a humble and contrite spirit – Isaiah 57:15.
Josephus confirms this characteristic of Moses in his description.
“But Moses refused all that honor which he saw the multitudes ready to bestow on him, and attended to nothing else but the service of God.
He went no more up to Mount Sinai, but he went into the tabernacle, and brought back answers from God for what he prayed for.
His habit was also that of a private man; and in all other circumstances he behaved like one of the common people, and was desirous to appear without distinguishing himself from the multitudes, but would have it known that he did nothing else but take care of them.”
We glean from this account that even though Moses was extraordinarily bestowed with Divine Favor, he conducted himself as an ordinary guy and assumed the role of a servant to God’s people.
This spirit of humility and servant-hood is seen in all of God’s chosen apostles in the New Testament as well, with the ultimate example exemplified in Jesus, who gave Himself to suffer and die to remove the sins of the world that God so loved (John 3:16); for Jesus came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
We are shown a stark contrast between the examples of leadership in Moses and Jesus, and those who were leading God’s people at the time Jesus came to earth to begin His ministry.
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day sharply for their pride and desire for self-exaltation.
“But all their works they do for to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments (Religious status symbols at the time)…and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. And greetings in the markets, and to be called, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi,’ ( Matthew 23:6,7).
Jesus set God’s standard before these men who professed a great knowledge of the word of God, but understood it not.
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” ( Matthew 23:11,12).
Let the wisdom of servant-hood, meekness and humility be the mantle of all those who profess to be followers of Jesus.
As Paul said, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4) – like Moses, a leader who would have it known that he did nothing else but to take care of God’s people.
Copyright 2012 by H.D. Shively
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