May 28, 2010

Examining The Scripture XX: The Spirit

We see in Numbers: Chapter 11 that Moses is beginning to feel overwhelmed by his duty as leader and mediator between God and His people. He was leading what was essentially a whining and petulant lot of people. Even God was angered by their antics and “consumed the outskirts of the camp with fire” at Taberah.

Moses pleads with God to either put him to death or help him. The Lord told Moses to bring Him 70 elders that are known as “leaders” at the Tent of Meeting. There God would take some of the Spirit that was on Moses and put it on the 70. This is a striking parallel to the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In preparation for this Moses gathers the allotted 70 and had them stand around the tent just as believers assembled together at Pentecost. Then in verse 25 the LORD takes of the Spirit and places it on/in the 70 gathered together and they prophesied, just as in Acts (Williams, Westbrook 324).

The only outstanding differences being that numbers being a solitary event whereas Acts was many believers repeatedly functioning in many supernatural activities Williams, Westbrook 325). This appears to be a shadow of the events that would unfold in the New Testament.

"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 of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they 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." Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!" But Moses replied, "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!" Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp." ~Numbers 11:24-29

So...did Moses wish that the Lord's spirit come on all His people. Does this come true after Christ’s Resurrection? Yes and no. We need to determine exactly what Moses was meaning or intending when he said “prophets”. The narrative shows Moses hoped for a community a lot different than the one formed at Sinai, hoped for a community not let by a person but guided by the Spirit (Sailhamer 386). When Moses says “prophets” (Strong’s: H5030 nabiy’: generally a prophet but can mean inspired speaker), he is making a blanket reference to the spiritual gifts people have when they are aided by the Helper.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper – John 14:16.

The words “...another Helper” in Greek is [allos paraclete] meaning: "another Helper of the the same kind". Jesus was sending someone to help that was exactly like Himself, The Holy Spirit. Once this is understood we can then move on to 1 Corinthians 12 which directly references the gifts bestowed on the believer by the Holy Spirit which include prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12:10. If we read further though we find out through Paul’s rhetorical questioning in 12: 28-29 that not everyone is a prophet but people can, speak in tongues, heal, discern, etc. Of course 1 Corinthians 12 in general implies and has the tone that all believers have some type of gift that aids them somehow in some way. Combine this with the fact that Moses was probably making a general statement about the power of the Spirit/inspiration and subsequent spiritual gifts (plural), not just prophets…yes, I believe Moses wish came true. Moses being a true “servant of the servants” which foreshadowed Jesus, he hoped that all men would become partakers of God’s grace (Keil, Delitzsch). He did not want glory for himself, he wanted glory and recognition for the amazing work that God works in the believer. Moses understood that he was only a vessel for God to work through. He understood it so well that he was that much more useful for God because Moses had willingly divested himself of himself to allow God more room to work.

F., C., and Franz Delitzsch Keil. Commentary on the Pentateuch Volume 3 (Numbers - Deuteronomy). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1971. Print.

Sailhamer, Dr. John H. "Chapter 2: Exodus." Pentateuch as Narrative, The. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995. 386. Print.

Williams, William C, Westbrook, April. "Chapter 8: Through the Vast and Dreadful Desert." They Spoke from God: A Survey of the Old Testament. Springfield: Logion Press/Gospel Pub. House, 2003. 324-325. Print.

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