Israel’s leader spoke with God

Last updated on January 25, 2024

“When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. … Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” (Exodus 33:9-11)

While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving detailed instructions from the Lord God, the people at the foot of the mountain were breaking the covenant they had just made. They worshiped a golden calf as their god – precisely what the Lord had forbidden them.
God kept His distance from the sinful people because His holiness would destroy them. Yet He did not turn away from them altogether, despite their unfaithfulness. Moses formed a link between God and the people. He climbed Mount Sinai several times to meet with God. But he also pitched a tent, far off from the camp, where he could speak to the Lord.

We read how Moses came to the tent to spend time with the Lord, and then went back to the camp to lead the people. But Joshua always stayed at the tent, probably to guard and care for this holy place, as the priests would later do in the tabernacle and temple.
We do not read that Joshua also spoke to God personally. But he did witness His presence and His conversations with Moses. Joshua assisted Moses in this regard as well.
Leadership in the Bible includes keeping communication open between God and the people. Do you think this is still true today? How could this work in practice?

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