God wanted prophecy for all, not the few, even in the Old Testament!

During the time in the wilderness, God had provided supernaturally for the Israelites and given them manna to eat which was “Food from heaven… the bread of angels.” Psalm 78:24+25 The people had become tired of this supernatural provision and longed for ‘the good old days’ in Egypt, when the desires of their flesh were satisfied.

“And the mixed multitude that was among them [the rabble who followed Israel from Egypt] began to lust greatly (for familiar and dainty food); and the Israelites wept again, and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’ We remember the fish which we used to eat freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and the garlic.” Numbers 11:4-5 (Amplified)

What is interesting here is that they seem to have forgotten the negative part of what they had once experienced. They forgot that they were once in slavery, having to work long hours, being beaten by their owners. They remembered the only positive part which was the free food!

 

The 70 elders get a taste of the Spirit of God

In that time of fleshy desires, God gave 70 elders of Israel a taste of His Spirit. He did this by asking Moses to gather them into the tent of meeting. These were probably the same seventy who in Exodus 24:9-11 had gone up Mount Sinai. There they had seen God and eaten and drank with him. They had already tasted of the heavenly banquet! God said to Moses that he would pour out His Spirit on them.

“Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.” Numbers 11:17.

Moses was a gifted prophet - probably the greatest in the Old Testament prior to John the Baptist.

Deut 34:10 “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

He had received the Law as a prophecy from God. However, he was struggling under the burden of leading the people. Jethro his father in Law had suggested that he appoint leaders over the people and this had released some of the administrative burden. However, it was the spiritual aspect of leadership that was now the problem, and it was this God was offering to remedy. Moses had become desperate, almost suicidal, before God and longed for help in leadership from a group that would walk in God’s ways.

Numbers 11:14 “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favour in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”

Numbers 11:25 “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him, and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied.”

Stained glass window of a dove descending

Having already tasted of the food of the heavenly realm the leaders were now blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit. This was done in order to equip them to help Moses in his spiritual guidance of the people.
The elders showed evidence of the Spirit in that they prophesied.
“But they did not do it again.” Numbers 11:25 This is one of the saddest verses in the wilderness years. They did not press through by practising the gift that they had been given. In spite of previously tasting of the heavenly banquet, their fleshy desires got in the way and they settled for second best, a full stomach of meat, instead of spiritual meat 1 Cor 3:2 and Heb 5:12.

In Psalm 106:13-15, the psalmist comments on this when he says “They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the wilderness, and put God to the test/tempted God in the desert, so He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.” The literal translation of the end of this verse is “sent leanness into their soul”. Because they did not press into what God had for them, yearning for physical food instead, God sent them on a spiritual fast which led to them wasting away!

“That place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (the graves of sensuous desire), because there they buried the people who lusted, whose physical appetite caused them to sin.” Numbers 11:34 (Amplified)

 

Don’t stop a move of the Holy Spirit

Two of the elders somehow stayed behind with the people. One of their names was Eldad (419) meaning ‘God has loved’, from El (410) God (plural) and dod (1730) love. The other was Medad (4312) from yadid (3039) beloved. These two beloved elders prophesied amongst the people and seemingly did not stop. Man’s zeal soon brought this to a halt though!

Numbers 11:27 “So a young man ran and told Moses and said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, Moses my lord, restrain them.”

We usually remember Joshua as a mature leader, who came after Moses and led the people into the Promised Land. Here we see a young fire brand, jealous for the position of Moses as the only one who could hear from and speak for God.
There had been episodes of challenge to the authority of Moses authority before – Joshua probably saw this as another one! These two ‘rebels’ had not even bothered to come to the meeting with God, and here they were prophesying out of control among the people – surely they had to be stopped! The reply of Moses was unequivocal.

“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” Numbers 11:29

Although they had not turned up to the tent of meeting, these leaders had nevertheless been blessed with the Spirit of God. Moses, who was more mature, knew not to stop something that God had obviously anointed. In fact he knew that God’s heart was to have a people who were all able to hear His voice.
This is promised in
Joel 2:28 “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions, even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” The first fruits of this were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.

This episode was a part of the discipline that God took Joshua through in order to prepare him for Jericho. Here he had to mobilise the whole nation in an act of corporate worship, which led to their first victory, when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
The church today is going through the same process. Instead of lone ministries, the whole body of Christ is going to rise up together and come into the fullness of the Spirit. This generation of people will be led by His Spirit and not their flesh.

Next.
1. Introduction - friendship with God.
2. Friendship is higher than service.
3. OT prophet. The Spirit came upon them.
4. God wanted prophecy for all in the OT.
5. The wrath of God.
6. God is a merciful judge.
7. John the Baptist - the prophet between the OT and NT
8. NT prophet. The Spirit within we can all prophesy!
9. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
10. Spiritual gifts are for building not destroying.
11. What you speak to rises up.
12. Prophesy truth not facts.
13. The primary purpose of prophecy in the NT.
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