Generational Transference in the Bible: The Pentateuch

 
image from www.kencastor.com
           The
Bible is rich with the theological foundations of generational transference in
regards to the identity and mission among God’s people.  Not only is God’s character faithful to
successive generations,
[1] it is clear that each generation has the obligation
to pass on to the next generation the message of God’s action and love in this
world.   The Pentateuch, for
example, includes spiritual and ritualistic ordinances and regulations that are
passed on for generations to come.
[2]  Israel
is instructed, “Repeat them again and again to your children.”
[3] 
Throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, God urges people to equip their
children to lead into the future.
[4]  There
is an overwhelming concept that the principles and character of God are to be
impressed upon, taught, and passed on to children and grandchildren and future
generations of God’s people.  This,
in God’s opinion, is a primary aim of a leader.

    
    Humanity has commonly equated prominence with
leadership.  Throughout history, common measurements of leadership have
included the quantity of followers and accomplishments, the display of power
and control, or the ever-increasing climb of positional influence. The ancient
Israelites at times fit this negative pattern.  For instance, they wanted
a king so that they could be weighed on the same scales as all the other
nations.[5]
 
All the nations around them measured grandeur according to their kingly
leader, so eventually Israel too desired an impressive man who was a head above
the rest- a warrior, a public speaker, an influencer, a human power dealer, a
god of a man.  The end result elevated the talented, charismatic Saul to
kingship before Israel learned of his moral bankruptcy and disruptive
tendencies towards God’s mission for his people.
[6]  Sadly,
in many subsequent generations, there would be numerous kings like him. 
The Israelites sought to be led by men who placed their own innate skills and
seizure of authority above their relationship with God and with others.
[7]

            But
in Deuteronomy, God set the stage for a different kind of leadership.  God taught that true leadership is to
measured first according to humility of the heart.  The greatest of leaders is to exhibit submission to the
Lord.  From the foundation of
Israel as a nation, the most essential qualities commanded to be transmitted to
succeeding generations included humble obedience and commitment to God.
[8]  Failure
to follow the Lord resulted in failure of leadership.
[9]  The
primary responsibilities of the Israelite king, for instance, according the
Deuteronomy 17, do not involve control and power, but involve actively learning
the laws of God and obeying God’s commands in order to ensure future
generations will successfully follow the Lord in Israel.
[10] 
Therefore, the measurement of a leader, first and foremost in God’s
opinion, is the character of his heart.

            “When
he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a
copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites.  It is to be with him, and he is to read
it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and
follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider
himself better than his brothers and turn from this law to the right or to the
left
.”[11]

 

            As
an
example, God called Moses to lead the
multitude of Israelites out of Egypt, not with his own charismatic power, but
with God’s Spirit in his heart and hands.[12]  Moses,
armed only with a staff of wood and no followers except Aaron, faced Pharaoh,
armed with the greatest armies, buildings, economies, and religious customs the
world had ever seen.  The clash was dramatic in its contrast: God’s modest
version of a leader versus the world’s leadership epitome.  Moses won.

            Having
been entrusted with the responsibility of leadership by God, Moses proceeded to
raise up and transfer the onus of leadership to Joshua, a next generation
leader who showed himself to be of godly character.[13]  Moses and Joshua partnered in ministry
for years.  During that time, Moses
witnessed Joshua’s heart for God, his character as person, and his skills as a
leader.   More profoundly,
Joshua was chosen by God as Moses’ successor.[14]  As a result, Moses encouraged the
assembly of Israel to “encourage” Joshua “because he will lead Israel to
inherit” the land.  Moses also
began succession plans immediately, even though they would take years to
complete.  He commissioned Joshua
with leadership opportunities,[15]
and openly spoke to the nation about the plans.[16]  In one of his final acts of leadership,
it is noted that “Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and spoke all the words of
this song in the hearing of the people.”[17]

            God’s
plan for leadership involves the transference of opportunity and responsibility
to godly people from one generation to the next.  As Moses was weaned from his powerful heritage of Egyptian
royalty, he learned a new kind leadership based not on the uplifting of the
leader, but on the uplifting of God and of others.  A leader’s identity, Moses learned, was to be grounded in
relationship with God and in service of God’s mission for the world.  In this way, the Bible reveals a
perpetuating process of generational transference that involves a leader, or
leaders, intentionally conferring opportunity and responsibility to
others.  Transference most readily
occurs within an environment whereby God’s people are joined in community with
an aim to live out God’s mission. 

…:::: See the previous post for the introduction to Generational Transference in the Bible ::::…


[1] Deuteronomy 5:10; 1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 33:11;
90:1; 102:12; 105:8; 119:90; Isaiah 51:8; Lamentations 5:19; Daniel 4:3,34;
Luke 1:50
  [2] Genesis 9:12; 17:7,9,12; Exodus 3:15; 12:14,17,42;
16:32-33; 20:6; 27:21; 30:21,27; 40:15; Leviticus 3:17; 6:18; 17:7; 21:17;
22:3; 23:14, 21; 24:3; Numbers 10:8; 15:14-15; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; 11:19;
32:7
  [3] Deuteronomy 6:4-9  [4] Esther 9:28; Job 8:8  [5] 1 Samuel 8:5; Deuteronomy 17:16-20  [6] 1 Samuel 9:2; 10:21-24; 13:13-14;
15:10-12, 22-29
  [7] 1 Samuel 8:9-22; 12:13-25  [8] Deuteronomy. 5:1-3; 6:1-25; 10:12-22;
11:19-21
  [9] 1 Samuel 13:13-14  [10] Deuteronomy 17:14-20  [11] Deuteronomy 17:18-20  [12] Exodus 6:1  [13] Deuteronomy 34:9  [14] Deuteronomy 1:38  [15] Deuteronomy 3:28  [16] Deuteronomy 31:4  [17] Deuteronomy 32:44

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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