Wednesday 01 June 2022

Bible Book:

But Moses said to him, 'Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!' (v. 29)

Numbers 11:24-30 Wednesday 1 June 2022

Psalm 137:1-7


In the heat of the wilderness wanderings, leading 600,000 towards the Promised Land, Moses was feeling the burdens of leadership, and of being the only one (apparently) who had the Spirit of God. Church ministers can often feel like this, until someone points out that actually there are many willing and able to help. The ‘burden’ of leadership is all the more acute when some people are grumbling (as some were in this case)!

Moses was not doing all the work – there were many elders who each had responsibility for their own group or tribe. But Moses was the one with special gifts of prophesy – that is discerning God’s will as to the direction they should go (morally, spiritually and geographically), and he had the authority of God to rebuke those who were going astray.

We do not really know what it means that some were ‘registered’ (verse 26) – but presumably there was some way of recording who were the recognised elders or leaders of the people. Out of all of the elders, 70 were chosen to go out of the camp and gather around the sacred tent of meeting (the Tabernacle, where the presence of God was believed to dwell). These 70, plus Moses, indeed found God at work there, as the cloud of God’s presence descended. There was a powerful sense that God was taking some of the ‘Spirit’ that Moses had, and was sharing it out among the others. They prophesied, finding for a limited time some of that divine insight. In the Bible, leadership without paying attention to prophecy is a very dangerous thing.

 And yet, back in the camp, two who had not been selected for this special meeting (Eldad and Medad) also started prophesying and giving wise and inspired leadership to the people. Outraged by this ‘unauthorised’ work of the Holy Spirit, a young man ran to tell Moses, and a soon-to-be famous voice, Joshua, urged Moses to do something about it! The response of Moses was to do nothing, expressing the wish that all God’s people would have the same Spirit.

 Some 1500 years later, Jesus faced a very similar situation in Mark 9: 38-41. This time it was John who was the zealous disciple who missed the point. Jesus had to point out that if God’s Spirit is at work, it is unwise to stand in the way or to stifle it. It is not just among the recognised or authorised whom the Spirit works! “Whoever is not against us is for us,” Jesus said. (Mark 9:40)


To Ponder:

  • As a Church, how do we discern the Spirit of God at work in people’s lives?
  • Do we sometimes feel that only ‘certain people’ are worth listening to?
  • How can we be open to the Holy Spirit at work in people we don’t expect? And how can we both affirm and test this ministry?
  • Sometimes, prophecy carries an unwelcome message. How can we be open to the challenges, while still knowing the love of God?



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