“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Numbers 11:29
The words in our opening scripture came from the mouth of Moses. He said them in response to concern that men in the camp were found prophesying in the Spirit. Up to that moment, that job had belonged to Moses alone. He served as the mouthpiece between God and man.
But a problem arose. The people had started grumbling. Again. They were tired of the manna God had provided. They wanted meat—meat they expected Moses to provide.
So Moses approached God with this complaint.
Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.” Numbers 11:11-14
I wonder if you can relate. Have you ever set out in obedience to God only to find that the people He sent you to serve didn’t appreciate it?
Moses lived in that place. He gave up the palace in Egypt for them. Then he left his peaceful life and the home he’d made with his wife to deliver them from slavery. And he succeeded, with God’s help. God enabled those grumbling Israelites to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground.
The people had moments of gratitude. But mostly, they grumbled. And now they found themselves in the desert, the place between their deliverance and their blessing, and they weren’t happy. Moses found himself so tired of their ingratitude that he asked God to kill him.
“If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” (verse 15)
But God didn’t kill him. Instead, He gave him help.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.” (verses 16-17)
I love the picture of God in these verses. He comes near to help us. And I will come down and talk with you there. God desires nothing less than intimacy with His people. And do you see what was needed to fulfill God’s purpose, beloved? God Himself.
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So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. (verses 24-25)
Did you notice what took place when the Spirit of God rested on these men? They prophesied. They spoke the Word of God by the power of His Spirit.
But two men of the chosen seventy hadn’t joined the gathering at the tent of meeting. They remained in the camp. And when God poured His Spirit out on them, they also began to prophesy.
This is what brought the young man to Moses, concerned that others were doing what he could do. Even Moses’ aid Joshua, who would later lead the Israelites into their Promised Land, said, “My Lord, Moses, stop them” (verse 29).
Isn’t it funny how our human nature wants to control who does what. And we fear—even within our churches—that God moving through someone else somehow diminishes our own significance.
But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (verse 29)
Moses understood that what he had with God couldn’t be diminished by someone else having it too. Each of us hold special priority in God’s sight. When we understand our significance to Him, we can applaud when someone else discovers the beauty of what we have.
“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
Jesus answered that prayer through the cross, beloved. Now every one of us has been empowered to hear from God and boldly declare His Word.
Let’s walk in the power we’ve been given!