Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

Naming Elders!

Naming Elders!It is intriguing to note that in the bible narrative where Moses appoints seventy elders for Israel and brings them before God for God to anoint them with the Holy Spirit, that only two of them are named – the ones who are in the camp, Eldad and Medad. (Num 11:16-29)

The incident is interesting because a number of indirect observations about the prophetic ministry may be made that will prove useful to us as we engage in the prophetic ministry. We pick up the story in Numbers 11:16-29; ‘The LORD said to Moses, “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone…

Then the LORD descended in the cloud and spoke with him, and He took of the Spirit that was upon him and placed the Spirit upon the seventy elders. It is easy to overlook this as we continue with the narrative. Consider all that Moses had accomplished: the miracles, the awe, the wonder! God speaking to Moses as a man speaks with a friend… and now, for a moment, God transfers what He had bestowed upon Moses to the others. Do you perceive the echoes of the Book of Acts in your mind now? What has transpired within you is not fleeting; the Spirit of God has come to dwell in and with you—a lasting presence.

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!”‘ (Numbers 11:16-29)

God invariably speaks to this one and that one, not the likely ones you choose!

When one considers the extraordinary events occurring in the life of Israel and the dramatic ‘out of the comfort zone’ transition underway, it quickly becomes apparent that the Israelites are facing another significant paradigm shift. Do not limit God to speaking only to the ones you choose; all can prophesy as He enables. I have made it a personal goal for my ministry to focus on restoring hope in the hearts of believers through authentic prophetic ministry; I encourage you to do the same.

God speaks in a multitude of ways. As we seek Him, He will reveal Himself in such a way that we can all see, hear, discern, or know His will and intent. I am particularly fond of the quote by Jonathan Edwards, which may well pose a challenge for you too: ‘The task of every generation is to discover in which direction the Sovereign Redeemer is moving, then move in that direction.’

Sometimes, people never prophesy again – but it was good that they did!

Back to Moses – a perceptive observation is easily overlooked amidst the considerable excitement of the story here. They all prophesied as the Spirit came upon them, but unlike the Prophets with the capital ‘P’, the experience of these elders was a short but significant one; having prophesied, ‘they did not do so again.’ Even today, that is the experience of some – but it does not negate the substantial value and encouragement of their contribution.

Be careful that in your need for ‘decency and order’ that you don’t quench what God is undoubtedly doing in your midst

Eldad and Medad (whose names meant something akin to “God has loved” and “He who loves”)had been summoned, along with all the other elders, to stand at the Tent of Meeting. No reason is given as to why they declined the invitation, but we can be pretty certain it was not a stance of defiance or rebellion. These were Moses’ chosen leaders, recognised by the various tribes of Israel for their leadership capacities. We cannot argue from the profound silence of scripture, but one thing is certain: despite their reputation, profile, and standing in the ecclesia of Israel, Joshua, Moses’ personal assistant, is shocked to receive news that these two men, who have not gathered at the Tent of Meeting, are now prophesying. It is so shocking that Joshua goes straight to Moses to dutifully report the apparent ‘outrage’.

Joshua’s legitimate concern is not with the 68 men prophesying as they stand by the Tent of Meeting, but with two men who do not appear to be fulfilling the criteria set before them. Joshua’s response is hard-line, controlling, and undiscerning. It also reflects a stance that many have adopted in this day and age: ‘Moses, tell them to stop!’. Joshua’s heart is immediately discerned by the Prophet Moses, ‘Are you jealous for my sake?’ Have you ever had a similar response as you look at others ministering outside the boundaries of what you perceive to be their calling? Moses’ response is an encouraging one for those innocently stepping out into the opportunity that suddenly faces them, ‘Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!’

The lavish generosity of Moses is a prime example to many leaders today.

God has so much He willingly wishes to give, and there are so many people to whom He genuinely wants to give! There is one word that can always be associated with God when it comes to blessings and gifts: More!

God’s extravagant grace knows no bounds; and do bear in mind that if He wishes to stir His gifting in others, it is likely that you are the one who may receive a blessing as a result of their stepping out in their gifts! Joshua was more concerned that the ‘prophetic elders’, Eldad and Medad, were in his view ‘illegitimately functioning in God’s gifting’ than he was about hearing the encouragement they were offering to all who would listen. You can sense legalism doing its foul work here, under the guise of concern. This is Joshua who would be used greatly by God after the death of Moses.

Consider for a moment the story of Peter as we see it in the gospels, and you can begin to see encouragement for yourself that no matter how far we go back looking into the lives of God’s people, we all have those early, unchecked moments of zeal that, whilst we might not regret them, we certainly would do things differently given the opportunity!

JonThe ultimate outcome of the story is that, despite the exceptional circumstances and Joshua’s concern, Eldad and Medad’s names were recorded with far greater profile and recognition than those of their sixty-eight contemporaries.


Naming Elders!
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