Numbers 11: 24-30 (NRSVA)
24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ 28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ 29 But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’ 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
The first thing I notice about this passage is that Moses gathered the elders together at the tent of meeting to be blessed by God, but God also blessed Eldad and Medad even although they had remained in the camp. We don’t know why they didn’t go. Was there a good reason or were they just being rebellious? But God blessed them even although they didn’t follow instructions. This gives me hope that even if we don’t get things right, even if we are not in the right place, even if we don’t always listen to instructions, God will still bless us. It also shows me that God is not bound by rules and regulations.
Moses invited the elders to the tent of meeting, but God decided to bless the two who stayed away anyway. But Joshua did not approve. He wanted Moses to stop them prophesying. Similarly, how often are we tempted to make up rules for God? And how dare we? We cannot restrict God, we cannot fence him in, we cannot tame him, as both Moses and Joshua found. God crashed their party, made up his own rules, and blessed whomsoever he chose. In the same way, on that first Pentecost Sunday, God came in fire and wind and freedom and wildness to empower his people. So, may he come today, to empower us in our response to the spiritual awakening which is taking place in our land.
Father forgive us when we make rules which exclude.
Forgive us when we fail to see you at work
outside the box which we have constructed.
Forgive us when we try to tame you.
Forgive us when we tried to deny others blessing
because they don’t meet our standards.
Help us to see you at work in the unpredicted.
Help us to hear your voice in the unanticipated.
Help us to know your presence in the unexpected.
But most of all, Lord,
bless us when we too are outside the box.
On this day of Pentecost,
may the fire of your Spirit
fall upon us once more, Amen.