Scripture: And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “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 11:27-29 ESV
Observation: Having followed through with Yahweh’s directive to tell the people to consecrate themselves for the meat feast and appoint seventy elders, Moses gathers the seventy around the tent of meeting to wait on the Lord. And he would not be disappointed, for the presence of God descended in the cloud and “took some of the Spirit” that Moses possessed and placed it on the elders, who immediately prophesied (11:25). But two of the “registered” men remained in the camp and proceeded to prophesy. So a young man ran and told Moses of their deplorable behavior, and Joshua (likely the same man) implored Moses to stop them (verses 27-28 above). But Moses, described as the meekest man on the earth (12:3), recognized that this was the hand of the Lord. Thus, he expressed his desire that all of Israel would receive the Lord’s Spirit and prophesy (verse 29 above).
Takeaway: One would wonder whether, in part, Moses reasoned that life would be so much easier for him (as a leader of two million stubborn people) if all Israel came under the power and direction of the Spirit—lol! Regardless of the motive, as mentioned above, his magnanimity reflects his meekness (or, as some versions translate, humility). And it points us to Christ and the apostle Paul. In Mark 9:38-41, we read of how the young disciple, John, in his zealousness, reports to his Rabbi that an outsider casts out demons in the name of Jesus, so he and the other disciples tried to stop the man. The Lord’s response? “Do not stop him…, for the one who is not against us is for us.” Then, in Philippians 1:15-18, Paul contends that while some “preach Christ from envy and rivalry…, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed,” and for that reason, Paul rejoices.
The takeaway for us? First, we need to self-monitor our motives when we try to rein in others we feel are not qualified to serve in the capacity they assume. If it does not entail immoral behavior unbecoming to the Gospel, then whether or not we like or find their ministry helpful, it is not our place to shut it down. Instead, we need to prayerfully seek the bigger picture of what God is doing in our midst and graciously come alongside those who may need our help as the Holy Spirit leads.
Secondly, when church leaders miss the mark in communicating the Gospel or fall from grace, we must tread lightly with gentle correction and humility when confronting them (Galatians 6:1). Our utmost concern should be for the spread of the Gospel and the care of the flock. To inappropriately denounce leaders for their failings is to detract from the Gospel they preach, which puts the spiritually young of their congregation at risk of abandoning their faith journey. Indeed, like Moses, Christ, and Paul, we should be most concerned with doing our part to live and pronounce the Good News of our loving and gracious God, who has called us to glorify him and enjoy him forever.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the examples of Moses and Paul, and particularly that of your Son, who sought to glorify you and fulfill your purposes above any attitude of jealousy or competition. Would you please help to do the same, relying on the direction of your Holy Spirit to see the bigger picture of growing your kingdom and glorifying your name? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling