Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Burden Sharers: Thoughts on Numbers 11

He was overwhelmed. He was tired. He was frustrated and angry. Moses had not chosen his path. He was just a simple man with deficiencies and insecurities. He had no great ambition or desire to lead. Yet God had chosen to make him the greatest mediator (second only to Jesus Christ) and the sole container of His Spirit at the time of the great exodus from Egypt.

In Numbers 11, Moses finds himself mere days from the incredible event when God revealed Himself and spoke to the redeemed Hebrews in the wilderness. He had done everything that was asked of Him. He had been God's voice and a leader for the people. He worked for them day and night, receiving God's covenant terms. He had been faithful in helping to settle disputes and comfort that people, in praying and interceding on their behalf and literally putting out fires. Yet despite all this, the people complained bitterly. And Moses had had enough. So much so that he declares,

I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if you are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in your sight...
Numbers 11:14-15

Moses felt he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And indeed, he was carrying the weight of mediating on behalf of the entire house of God. It was simply too much. So he, as one does when in an intimate relationships, called on his closest companion for comfort, he poured out his feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion to the Lord. He told God the truth about how he felt. And, as our faithful God does, He provided a solution. And in His remedy we find keys to understanding a very important truth for us today.

Moses as a 'Type'

I've told you before that Moses is a type, meaning that his life, ministry and job description are all a reflection of someone else - in this case Jesus our messiah. Through paying attention to how Moses lived out his days as the mediator between God and man, we can understand things about how our Mediator, Jesus, worked out His calling on earth and still in heaven today.


For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
1 Timothy 2:5
Let's look at YHWH's solution to Moses's plight:
The Lord therefore said to Moses, "Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so you will not bear it all alone.
Numbers 11:16-17
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied.
Numbers 11:24-25
Does this sound at all familiar to you? Let's think about what is happening here: the spokesman for God is giving up his spirit in order that the Spirit can rest upon others. So God takes Moses' spirit and places it upon the others who He calls and deems worthy. When this happens the response of those who receive it is that they "prophesy" which literally means to speak in ecstacy.
Let me share some scriptures with you that might drive the point I am making home:
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
John 16:5-15
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23: 44-46
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome both Jews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Acts 2:1-13
By reading the scriptures I have laid out for you here, are you beginning to see that the exact same events unfold again, centuries later? The event of this outpouring of God's Spirit from Moses onto the elders is a real event - but it serves as a physical reality of a much more important historical spiritual event - it serves as a shadow of the when Jesus Christ released His spirit on the cross - the same Spirit which had descended like a dove at His baptism - in order that His followers - even you and me - could be partakers and sharers in that same Spirit's comfort and conviction. And just as those seventy elders spoke in "ecstasy," the first disciples to receive the Holy Spirit also spoke passionately, so much so that people around them believed they were intoxicated. Pretty amazing, right? Here we were, believing that Acts 2 was a revolutionary event, when all along God was telling us it was going to happen!
But if this is true, then we must look at the implication here. In our church bodies, we live as if we receive the Holy Spirit as only a luxury, something only for our own personal gain. It has become something that represents our elevated status, a perk of being redeemed. And that's true, it is the sign that we are in covenant with God, set apart, and that's a wonderful thing to celebrate and enjoy.
But let's not miss the purpose of it, Beloved.
Moses needed someone to share the burden. He didn't need another opinion or another 'chief.' The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not about having a title or power at all. It is about being equipped to share in the burden of the work.
Jesus Christ has made available the Holy Spirit so that you can share in the work He was doing. Is your agenda His agenda? I would hate to think that we as the body are misusing it for our own personal gain. We are called to be burden sharers.
That is exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke these words:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
Are we doing the work, my friends? Are we living as laborers for the Most High? Are we holding up others and not just ourselves? It's not easy. It's a life of regarding God and others above our own self interest. It's about being the first to pick up the phone, delving out extra patience and grace, being a listener, letting others win and celebrating their giftings, and giving up our time and our money and our attention so that others can experience love and care of God through us. What an amazing honor to be able to carry out what Christ began. I pray for open eyes and opportunities for us all to do that today.

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