The Day of Pentecost

Would That the Lord Would Put His Spirit on All His People

Text: Numbers 11:24–30

Liturgical Setting

  • It may seem as if the Holy Spirit was absent for much of the Old Testament except for special occasions. 
  • However, for anyone to believe in the promise of the Messiah and thus receive saving grace, the Holy Spirit was certainly active. 
  • The way forward is to see the Spirit’s presence and work as one of degree and extent. 
  • The text is part of a larger story, two stories actually. 
  • Numbers 11 therefore occurs a little more than a year after departing Egypt 
  • One focuses on the people’s complaining about how loathsome the manna has become and how they need meat. 
  • Their selective memory of what was good about Egypt shows the depth of their rebellion and is the reason the quail given to an overwhelming abundance is not a blessing but more a punishment from God.
  • The second story is the struggle Moses has leading this people (11:10–15).
  • It is too great for him. He has become weary to the point of asking to die. Even Moses is griping about his lot in life. 
  • The people of Israel were camped at a place called Kibroth Hattaavah "graves of craving". Do you see a connection already as to the main point of this text and the subject it will be discussing?
  • The people were urged into spiteful and anger causing complaining by the "rabble with them".  This does not excuse their own actions but it does explain some of the catalyst!
  • Catalyst – Minneapollis, COVID-19 etc.?
  • However, instead of angry action, God gives him seventy dedicated elders to help him. 
  • The number 70 is the total number of the sons of Jacob, 
  • the Jews were doomed for 70 years of Babylonian exile. 
  • 70 weeks is involved in one of Daniels most important prophesies, and 
  • the number 70 is 7 multiplied by 10;  the human is now given divine meaning. 
  • "Thus the 70 years of captivity are a symbolical sign of the time when the power of the world would, according to God's will, triumph over Israel, during which time Babylon would execute he divine judgements on God's people.
  • 70 also can be used to show an entirety, a completeness. 
  • The 70 were to represent the whole people of God!
  • Moses is not jealous as Joshua was but speaks a wonderful promise, even an unintended prophecy, about what would happen on Pentecost and in the continued life of the Church.
  • Jealousy, QANA in the hebrew means several things.  The two main meanings are that of jealous = envy (of anothers property) and jealous = zeal (for ones own property).
  • Scripture can speak of the Spirit in two distinct ways: 
  • first, as in a man; For the Spirit to be in a man speaks of the man’s life of faith (Num 27:18; Ps 51:10–11).
  • second, as upon a man (or, synonymously, a man “filled [male’] with the Spirit” [Deut 34:9]). For the Spirit to be upon a man speaks of the man being taken up into the purpose of the Lord, that is, to speak the Lord’s Word of life (i.e., to prophesy). 
  • The man upon whom the Spirit rests thus speaks by the authority and office of the Lord. 
  • The special manifestation of the Spirit in them had served a purpose to show God's approval of their commissioning to the people.
  • Today, he has promised to be present in the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament. Not quite as dramatic as a cloud or the seventy elders’ prophetic behavior, but still the very places we count on to meet our Lord. 
  • The Cloud is a great example of Lutheran Sacramental Theology - God doesn't "become" a cloud i.e. transubstantiation but NOR does the cloud "symbolize" a very "distant and not present God" RATHER - YHWH was in, with and under the cloud - when the people looked at the cloud they were looking at God!! When we LOOK at the bread and wine - we are looking at God!!!!
  • When they saw Jesus doing something, they saw God in action. In Jesus, we meet God.
  • Three moments when the Spirit placed on us led us to confess Jesus. 
  • (1) One example is VBS, such as when the children sing “This Little Gospel Light of Mine.” (I sang part of the song for the people.) 
  • (2) I described my confirmation when I confessed my faith before the congregation. 
  • (3) My third example was when we say the Creed in worship. You could have them say the Second Article with you.
  • Every time we confess Jesus as Lord, we see the Holy Spirit active in our lives, and we know that Moses’ words have come true in our lives. Amen.