Ever felt left out? Eldad & Medad from Numbers 11:24-30 surely did. But imagine their surprise–and the surprise of all those who had discounted them–when the Spirit of God rested upon them.
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, 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, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Moses is getting tired of his role as supervisor of the Children of Israel, so he asks God for help. God responds by directing Moses to select 70 helpers. 70 people who have a reputation for service, know the scriptures, are reliable, problem solvers, peacemakers. These were people who had spent their lives getting to know God and the people of God. Simply put, these were people who had created within their hearts a resting place for the Spirit of God.
The 70 are chosen and in preparation for their new leadership roles, they go outside the camp to the Tent of Meeting for worship. While there, the Spirit comes upon them, and they prophesy—all 70 of them. A glorious event to be sure! But the Spirit of God did not stop at the Tent of Meeting.
Back at the camp were 2 men who did not get chosen as part of the 70: Eldad—meaning God Loves–and Medad—meaning beloved. Their names tell us that they are men who are in close relationship with God; we learn from this incident that they are also primed and ready for an indwelling of the Spirit. The Spirit comes upon them back in the camp, they start prophesying, and they don’t stop. Amazing right?
Well, yes, but not everyone thought Eldad and Medad should be prophesying. They suspected foul play. Can you identify?
See, as much as we say we want the Spirit to move, we often mean we want the Spirit to move in a particular direction. When the Spirit acts unpredictably, as the Spirit often does, we children of God have been known to chafe. We want the Spirit to move, but not like THAT. We want the people to respond to God’s call, but not THAT way. So we call out this spiritual malpractice!! And as we do, somewhere deep down, we feel our hearts harden and grow cold. We feel fear creep in, and insecurity take over. Our hearts, once open and faithful, become suspicious and fretful.
But let’s look back at Eldad and Medad: it seems to me that they had good reason to be resentful? Think about it: they were every bit as qualified as those other 70 but they didn’t get picked. Nobody considered how they would feel about being left back at the camp when everyone else went out to testify. Eldad and Medad could have closed the doors to their hearts. But that’s not what happened. They remained open and ready for the movement of God; so Eldad & Medad received the Spirit. And because the Spirit was at rest in them, they went to work for the Spirit.
The Spirit prompts unique responses from each believer. Some, like Eldad and Medad prophesy. Others find themselves serving in new and different ways, praying with greater purpose and deeper intimacy. Some teach or preach or sing. And some are called simply to grow still. In any case, when the Spirit rests within us, we can’t help but respond.
And so the question becomes, “Have I prepared a place within MY heart for the Spirit to find rest?” If so, then I—then you—need to be ready, because the Spirit is on the move!