Would that All God’s People Were Prophets

Num 11:27-29
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

29 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!

Moses here declares that he wished all of God’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them all.  In fact this is not merely some sort of spiritual daydream but a prophecy, for Moses declared not only his own desire for God’s people, but the desire of God, Himself!

I mentioned this passage just briefly in my last post ‘Ere the Lamp of the Lord Go Out,’ which post was also about the Spirit of Prophecy.  I declared that Moses’ prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost.  Now I know that this thought is a bit of a stretch for most, but let’s explore just what this thought means.

First, let’s look at this story of Moses in the book of Numbers, then we can consider the later New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

The story of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of numbers, wherein men were prophesying in the camp, actually started when the people of God became too great a burden for Moses, and he petitioned God to help bear the load of the people.  As the Prophet of God in the earth, God had entrusted Moses with leading, and directing the whole nation – because His Spirit was upon Moses to do so.

The people were not satisfied with the provision that the Lord had made for them, and they complained, and cried out AGAINST the Lord, who was caring for them through the ministry of Moses.  They had literally just been punished for contending with the Lord in this matter, yet they quickly forgot the correction, and were complaining, and crying out again (Num 11:1-10).

Under the stress and pressure of being held responsible for the whole nation, Moses called out to God:

Num 11:10-15
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Moses feels so overwhelmed with the burden of the people that he says he would rather die than to continue caring for them on his own.

God graciously responds – He has a plan to help Moses carry the burden of the people:

Num 11:16-17
16 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.

17 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.

God’s plan is to take of Moses’ anointing, and IMPART that same anointing upon 70 elders of the people of Israel.  In this way, the 70 would be equipped as prophets to the people, as Moses was in order that the people may be cared for, and ministered to more effectively.  (There is great depth of meaning, and of typologies here but we’ll stick to the basic overtones for the moment.)

Moses did exactly as God told him, he gathered 70 princes of the people together and the people sanctified themselves (Num. 11:18).  Now this sanctification process is crucial, because when the Spirit of God came upon someone who was impure before God, they were consumed with fire (even priests).  In terms of New Testament application this means that they repented, and were baptized (Acts 2:38).

Num 11:24-29
24 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.

25 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.

So every one of the elders, or princes upon whom the Spirit of God came PROPHESIED, and furthermore, they: ‘DID NOT CEASE.’  Meaning (in New Testament terms) that the rest of their lives, they had the gift of prophecy (Rom. 11:29).

Yet there was something else interesting about this situation.  Two of the princes called to the tabernacle did not come, for some reason.  The scripture gives us no indication why they did not come to the meeting at the tabernacle, though as they are men of renowned integrity we can doubtless assume it was not in intentional rebellion to the command of God.  Whatever the reason, God’s grace was upon them, regardless and they too received the Holy Spirit, and prophesied:

26 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.

27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

29 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!

Now, these two are an excellent example for us in terms of New Testament promises, because it means that even if we were not present for the corporate move of God we, too, can receive the Holy Spirit!  ‘For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’  (Acts 2:39)

Now, there is a clear correlation between the Spirit of God coming on the princes of Israel in the time of Moses, and of prophecy, but is there a real correlation between the New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and of prophecy?  After all, Moses was an established prophet, perhaps the prophesying of the 70 had to do with the fact that their reception of the Holy Spirit was an impartation from Moses’ ministry and gifting?

On the day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the gathered believers.  The apostle Peter declared that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of a prophecy found in Joel chapter 2.

Here is Peter’s quote of Joel 2:

Acts 2:17-21
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Is it interesting that every gifting which would accompany the Holy Spirit is a prophetic gifting?  Prophesy, see visions, dream dreams, and finally a fourth affirmation: ‘they shall prophesy.’

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is given so that we may be witnesses unto Christ (Acts 1:8).  How appropriate, then, that the central focus of the Holy Spirit is prophecy?  As I also mentioned in my former post, the testimony of Jesus is the SPIRIT OF PROPHECY (Rev. 19:10).

1 Cor 14:39
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy…

1 Cor 14:31
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

(For the question: ‘Didn’t prophecy pass away?’ see post: ‘The Year of the Lord’s Favor‘)

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One thought on “Would that All God’s People Were Prophets

  1. Pingback: WHO is The Beast From the Sea? – pnuematicrain

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