Burden Bearers and Spokespeople

My somewhat impromptu decision to head down to San Diego last week for my grandson’s third birthday, while providing the huge blessing of being with far away family in 75+ degree temperatures, also resulted in a bit of a disruption in daily routine.

But, for now at least, I’m back in routine and this morning I’m chewing on Numbers 11.

Moses has hit the wall.

The people are complaining. The anger of the Lord is blazing (literally). And Moses is in the middle.

Thus, after interceding for the people and asking God to put out the fire, he then kind of unloads on the LORD:

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? . . . I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.”

(Numbers 11:11-12, 14 ESV)

And God gets it.

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.”

(Numbers 11:16-17 ESV)

And the elders gather (well, most of the them). And the Spirit is given. And additional burden bearers are commissioned.

But what grabs me this morning is that the visible evidence of the Spirit having been given to the elders is that they prophesy (11:25) — even the two elders who didn’t make it to the tent of meeting but stayed in the camp with the people, they also received the Spirit and acted as spokesmen for the things of God (11:26).

And when Moses and his young disciple, Joshua, hear of these two elders prophesying apart from the gathered group under Moses’s direct authority, Joshua says to Moses, “My lord Moses, stop them.” To which Moses replies:

“Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!”

(Numbers 11:29 ESV)

While I’m impressed by the gracious and humble response of Moses (the guy wasn’t a glory seeker), I’m more intrigued because I’m one of “all the LORD’s people” who has, in fact, received the Spirit. And not just “some of the Spirit”, like those elders, but the fullness of the Spirit, as in Pentecost. Is there application here? I think so.

The Spirit was given that the burden might be bearable. And when the Spirit was given, the word of God was spoken.

Has me thinking about Jesus referring to the Spirit as “the Helper” (Jn. 14:16) and that, in addition to helping, the Helper also leads Jesus’s followers into truth (Jn. 14:26), illuminating the word of God to them that they He might speak the things of God through them. Making “all the LORD’s people” burden bearers and spokespeople.

The Spirit of power. The Spirit of prophesy. The Spirit enabling the works of God. The Spirit making known the word of God. The Spirit who helps us keep on keepin’ on. The Spirit who helps us speak of the God for whom we keep on keepin’ on.

Can’t help but think that Moses was somewhat prophetic in responding to Joshua. Hasn’t God put His Spirit on all His people that they might engage in the work of the kingdom and, in so doing, bear witness to the King of the kingdom? I’m thinkin’ . . .

Burden bearers and spokespeople.

By His grace. For His glory.

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