“And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” (Numbers 11:16-17)
God’s response to Moses’ request to be relieved of the burden of the people’s constant complaining was to take seventy of the leaders to stand with Moses. As John Maxwell said in one of his books, there are the people who are designated as leaders, and the ones people naturally follow. The later are the ones God directed Moses to select because when problems arise, these are the ones people will turn to.
God would then take of the spirit that was on Moses and put it on the those leaders. There are two important principles involved here. First, the followers develop the same spirit, the same attitudes and standards as the leadership. This is why it is so crucial that church leaders be filled with the Spirit, that they meet the standards laid down for pastors and deacons in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. They will not be able to teach others to be filled with the Spirit if they are not filled themselves.
Secondly, a spirit filled Christian has all the power of God behind him. There is no more power, but Spirit filled Christians can encourage each other to stand strong. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” It is one of the main reasons for the church getting together according to Hebrews 11:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
“And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” (Numbers 11:18-20)
Next, God addressed the people’s complaints. They were to be ready because God would give them the meat they were complaining about not having. God would supply so much they wouldn’t have anything else to eat for the next month. There would be so much it would make them all sick at their stomach and they would vomit it up before they got it all ate.
In complaining about what God had provided, they were being disrespectful toward God. How many times do we not consider that our rejection of other people’s efforts are in fact an insult to that person. We are offended when others do it to us but often do not consider that others are offended by our actions. God was offended by their complaining.
“And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” (Numbers 11:21-23)
Even Moses had trouble believing that there could be so much meat available. Even killing their entire herd of livestock wouldn’t suffice for more than a few days. Was that What God wanted them to do? Were they going to have to go to the Red Sea or the Persian gulf and catch all the fish in them. The quantity required was staggering.
God’s response was that he was not limited by how much was needed. If Moses would just watch, he would see whether the God that had provided the manna and water in the wilderness and defeated the Egyptian army could supply.
“And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.” (Numbers 11:24-25)
Moses was open about what God had told him, informing the people of God’s word. Communication is critical if we are to successfully build people up. Following God’s instructions he gathered seventy leaders around the Tabernacle, and God placed some of the spirit in each of them. As a result each one began to prophesy, to tell what God had spoken, and didn’t stop. Spirit led people will have a desire to share God’s word.
“But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.” (Numbers 11:26-30)
After being empowered by the spirit, most of the men went out to the Tabernacle to prophesy, but Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, and a young man rushed to tell Moses they weren‘t doing like the others. Joshua advised Moses to stop them, fearing it was wrong or that they would weaken Moses’ leadership.
Moses recognized that God led different ones to do different things, and that we shouldn’t get upset or try to stop those who don’t do things exactly the way we are used to. There have been huge fights among Christians because people didn’t do things exactly the same way others did. Just because a pastor doesn’t always wear a suit and tie or they don’t sing a particular style of music doesn’t make them ungodly or wrong.
Jesus expressed the same attitude Moses had in Luke 9:49-50. “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Paul went even farther, stating that even if they were off in their approach, we still ought to rejoice that Christ was preached in Philippians 1;15-18. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Romans 14 addresses the subject at some length, telling us that we are to allow God to lead them, and not impose our own standards.