IL 5/5/23: Passing The Baton – Exodus 32-33

IL 5/5/23: Passing The Baton – Exodus 32-33

(Audio Transcription Below)

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We are all running a race and at some point, you are going to make a handoff. You will hand off your children, your business, your team, your church and eventually you will hand off your life. How are you preparing the person receiving the baton to be ready? 

Joshua was Moses’ successor. Joshua was the one who would carry the baton into the Promised Land. It’s important to see how Joshua was with Moses at important events: 

  • Joshua fought the first battle in the wilderness. Imagine the stories they told one another when the battle was over. In Exodus 17, Moses could have said, “all the time my hands were raised to the Lord, the battle went well. And I needed help to even do that. Aaron & Hur may have reminded Joshua that when he goes into battle, don’t just prepare, remember prayer.”
  • In Numbers 13, Moses handed off the leadership to Joshua to lead the 12 spies into Canaan (Promise Land). Recall when Caleb and Joshua said we should obey God and enter the land. Ten of the spies said they would get crushed and should return to Egypt. Joshua had to learn to stand in the minority and against the group.

A great test when developing your next leaders is to give them something meaningful. If they fail, there will be pain. God does this all the time. He hands the baton to you and if you fail, PAIN. 

Exodus 32-33: I want to use the events in this passage to see some important practices Moses imprinted on Joshua’s life. For example, Moses’ spiritual legacy and the way Moses passed on the baton to Joshua.

Exodus 32: This has to be one of the lowest moments for Moses. Moses (with Joshua) is on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments when the Lord delivers this report to Moses about the people he has led out of Egypt (Exodus 32:7-8) 

  • (vs. 19-20) Moses reaction: white hot anger 
  • (vs. 21-24) Aaron’s leadership failure and excuses
  • (33:1-3a) God’s reaction: Moses, go to the Promised Land but I won’t be going with you!

This is a disaster! What will Moses do? What leadership lessons does Joshua learn at this pivotal moment? What can we learn? 

Exodus 33:7-17– Moses goes to meet with God & takes Joshua with him. Some of the lessons learned are:

  • Separate Frequently: (vs. 7 – “outside the camp”) – To meet with God you must separate from the crowd and noise. 
  • Seek Completely: The purpose of the tent’s location was to singularly pursue God. The separation is a physical gesture to say: “God, I want to hear from you and follow after you, not follow the crowd.” 

Jesus’ habit: Mark 1: 29-38 – Jesus taught his disciples the same thing Moses taught Joshua. As the disciples ask Jesus to go back to town, Jesus says “let’s go to another place. How else would you know if you didn’t seek God’s plan?”

  • Allow Observation: The people watched Moses go meet with God, but Joshua went into the tent with Moses (Exodus 33:10).
    • How do people learn how to meet with God? They observe others.  Notice as Joshua stays in the tent to meet with God and pray for Moses (Exodus 33:11).

Fathers, what are your children observing about submission to God by watching you?

Pattern: Listening, Praying, and Staying 

  • Listening: (vs. 9) “The Lord would speak with Moses.” Today, it doesn’t happen with a pillar of cloud but by reading the Bible. 

John 14:25– “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” 

  • Praying: (vs. 13) – I love this statement by Moses: “Show me your ways” not “God, affirm my ways.” Notice Moses’ primary target: “To know God, to find favor with God,” not to get something done. If your prayers are primarily about getting something done then your prayers probably terminate on you not God. 

(vs. 13) “Consider too that this nation is your people” — I would love to know the tone (friends talking together). Recall (32:7) – “God these aren’t just my people, they are yours as well!” 

  • Staying: (vs. 15) – Moses’ statement to God: “We can’t go if you don’t go with us” is a powerful statement witnessed by Joshua. In Exodus 33:1-3, God promised to give them a land flowing with milk and honey and promised to send an angel to go before them and fight for them. Those are pretty good promises, yet Moses refuses unless God goes with them. What’s most important to Moses is not what Moses gets, but God. WOW!

Was Joshua ready for the baton or do he and Moses fumble it? 

In Joshua 1:5-7, Joshua understands and is ready for the baton. It will take great courage to lead. The Lord will be with him as he follows his Word. 

At the end of Joshua’s life, he says in Joshua 24: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” YES!! 


1. What’s your current position in your race called life? Are you in the position of handing off the baton? (To who?) Are in the position of receiving the baton (From who?) Is there a position you need to be in that you are currently not in? 

2. Is there a responsibility or leadership role you need to be handing off to someone else? Is there a leadership baton you need to be preparing to receive? How will you do this? 

3. Learning from Moses: Separating Frequently, Listening, Praying, Staying – Which one these needs more work on your part? 

4. Who has left a lasting spiritual imprint on your life? What was the most important lesson they left that you will carry forward?


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