“…a man in whom is the Spirit…” Numbers 27:18
When God told Moses to prepare for his impending death, Moses’ concern was for a leader to replace him before the people of Israel. This godly servant offered an example of humility and service which could not have gone unnoticed by Joshua. This young man was privileged to accompany Moses into Mount Sinai to receive the law (Ex. 24:13) and into the Tabernacle when Moses spoke with God there (Ex. 33:11). And though these experiences must have had a significant impact on Joshua, when it came time for him to replace Moses as Israel’s leader, it was not his experience or character which commended him to the chief position in all of Israel. Numbers 27:18 records God’s words concerning Joshua’s qualifications as Moses’ successor, “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him….” Moses was to give Joshua authority in the sight of both the high priest and the congregation of the people on the basis of the Spirit’s presence in him.
It was the presence of the same Spirit which set Joseph apart in the eyes of Pharaoh (Gen. 41:38) and qualified Bezalel to craft the articles of worship in the wilderness (Ex. 31:3). The Spirit empowered Balaam to prophecy a blessing on God’s people (Num. 24:2-9) and Samson to perform great feats of strength and valour (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14). The Spirit used the prophet Azariah to spark a revival in Judah (2 Chron. 15:1-7), the prophet Zechariah to warn Judah of God’s coming judgment (2 Chron. 24:20), and the prophet Isaiah to prophecy about the coming Messiah (Is. 61:1-11). And it was the Spirit of God which raised up Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people to rebuild the temple (Hag. 1:14). This same Spirit, who was so active in the Old Testament empowering God’s people for service, is found in the New Testament performing the work of the Incarnation (Luke 1:35), empowering Christ in his life and ministry (Matt. 3:16; 12:28), being promised by Christ to his followers (Acts 1:8) and received on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-18; 5:32) in Jerusalem.
While character, experience and virtue are not to be ignored, it seems that the most important qualification for ministry has already been given to every one who has received Christ in repentance and faith. Whether our ministry involves leading a nation like Joshua or serving tables like Stephen, God has already given us the essential gift necessary to complete the task for His glory and by His grace in the person of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.