So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied – but did not do so again.
However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” -–Numbers 11: 24-26
Moses was a bit stressed out. The burden of the congregation of people was becoming weighty for him. From the day he left Egypt with the Israelites, they complained and kept on doing so as they moved further into the wilderness.
At the Red Sea the people had witnessed the mighty power of God. They had seen the parting of the waters so that they could pass through and escape from the forces or Pharoah. Furthermore, they had witnessed the devastation of Pharoah’s forces in the water, yet they complained. Even though God had given them manna from heaven, when they complained, they further demanded meat from God.
The constant complaining and the burden of managing the congregation, became a bit much for Moses. Therefore, he cried out to God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?”
As with Moses in the wilderness, and with the apostle Paul, for whom ministry became overwhelming, so it is with pastors. Pastors often feel alone, and they get the feeling that they are just kicking up dust and going around in circles.
The Lord responded to the cries of Moses. He instructed Moses to choose 70 prominent men from the community and to take them to the tent of meeting. When they had been assembled, the Lord came down, spoke to Moses and took the spirit that was on him and placed it on the elders.
They immediately began to prophesy. However, two of the elders who were still in the camp and had not gone to the tent, also prophesied in the camp. This disturbed Joshua, Moses’ assistant. He wanted Moses to stop them because they had not gone to the tent.
Whatever Joshua’s reason for wanting to stop the men or the elders, Moses did not agree. Instead, he asked Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
We in the church sometimes get the impression that we have a monopoly on the gospel. Because some Christians do not act or look like us, we tend to dismiss them and their ministry. However, like the two elders in the camp, they too are from God. We do not choose workers in the church, God does that.
Many of God’s chosen people in Scripture were strange looking and acted weird. John the Baptist wore camel hair and ate strange food. Isaiah and Jeremiah were strange and were punished because of their ministry.
Having celebrated Pentecost Day last Sunday, we in the church should be cognizant that God continues to send workers in the church. They may sometimes appear strange, but that does not mean that they are not from God.
We should embrace new workers and new people in the church. Let us be happy for them and the proclamation of the gospel.
Jesus once chided his disciples who wanted to stop a man from casting out demons. They complained that this man was not a part of their group. However, Jesus responded, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
The church is made up of all kinds of people whom God has placed among us. They might not meet our expectations, but they meet God’s. He is the one who, through his Spirit, has called and placed them in our midst. They too are building the church of God here on earth. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.