And it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again. But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. (Numbers 11:25-26)
There are those who think that the gifts of the Spirit were only operating after the events recorded in Acts 2. Obviously that is not the case as we see here; these seventy prophesied after the Spirit rested upon them. In fact, although many translations say that they “never did so again,” some Aramaic translations of the Scripture say “they did not cease to prophesy.” The point is that the gifts of the Spirit were in operation in the wilderness, long before we see them being emphasized in the New Testament.
That point amplifies the next one — two of the men prophesied even though they were not present with the others. In other words, they didn’t have to be at tabernacle in order to be empowered by the Spirit of God; they just just needed to have the heart to lead the people. Unfortunately, this angered some, including Joshua, who encouraged Moses to have them stopped. Moses, however, responded that if left to him, all of God’s people would be empowered by the Spirit of God to prophesy, demonstrating his meekness and general consideration for all the people.
This entire incident reminds of us the animosity that first emerged when non-Jewish believers were being empowered by the Spirit of God. Several in the believing community were incensed at this and made their dissatisfaction known only to be reminded that “If God gave them the same gift as He gave us” who are we to withstand God (Acts 11:17)? This same type of situation had also arisen during Messiah’s ministry when some of the disciples took issue with those, not of the twelve, who were casting out demons in His name. He reminded them that, “He who is not against us is on our side” (Mark 9:40). In a manner of speaking, His point was the same as Moses’ – it would be beneficial if all of God’s people were filled with His Spirit and operating in the gifts bestowed upon us by the Spirit.
If it was true then, it is true now — we all need His Spirit working in our lives for our benefit and the for the benefit of others. Not only that but we need to remember that, just because they don’t go to our congregation or are not part of our particular “brand” of ministry, doesn’t mean that God can’t use them or isn’t using them. He doesn’t play favorites and it is up to Him who will be used and how. It seems to me that He is willing to use any man or woman whose heart is to follow Him. So let us be those people and let us be as Moses — meek and desirous that all of God’s people would be filled with His Presence.
Blessings and Shalom,