The Israelites get meat to eat AND the Holy Spirit in this peculiar chapter that seems a little out of place in Numbers. Like, this feels like a “real” story, not just a list of facts and figures and rules like what we’ve (I’ve) gotten a little used to reading the last few weeks. Perhaps this was the best way Moses knew how to tell us the background of other events he’s described in past chapters.
In the beginning of the chapter, we see that Moses is stressed out to the max. Ever feel this way? Ever tell God you just can’t, and if He wants you to do whatever it is He’s asking you to do, He’s going to have to take up some of the slack? Moses was desperate – to the point of telling God, “If you’re not going to help, then just kill me now!” God helped alright, but maybe not how Moses envisioned it altogether. I imagine this conversation, too, marked the beginning of how some of the rules and regulations from past chapters were implemented.
In the middle of the chapter, we see the first sort of real glimpse of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been referenced before when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai and was glowing, but up until this point, we haven’t heard much about the Holy Spirit. It’s like God was kind of saving some of His best tricks! He fills 70 men, including two who didn’t go to the Tabernacle, with the Holy Spirit, and immediately they all begin prophesying. In other words, immediately they all began showing signs that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Just one look at them told the folks around them that they were different, set apart, holy. This made me wonder something huge. Now, bear with me here, but hear me out. Us humans on Earth today, because of Jesus’ death, are automatically filled with the Holy Spirit when we ask for it. Some say this happens upon acceptance of Jesus. Others say we are born with the love of Christ already in our hearts and that we just have to accept it to be able to see it. I’m not sure what I think, but I know I feel it, and I am positive that the issue will be added to my list of questions to ask Jesus. My point is, today: what if we all glow with the Holy Spirit but we just don’t “see” it anymore because everyone glows the same? In Moses’ day, he was the only person filled with the Holy Spirit, and he glowed. Then 70 elders were filled with the Holy Spirit, and something about them changed. The text says they prophesied, rather than glowed, but we know SOMETHING was recognizably different about each of them. So, what if through time and distribution, the Holy Spirit has been put inside all of us so that we all glow the same (which sadly, isn’t a glow at all anymore). It’s beautiful and tragic all at once, isn’t it?
In the third section of Chapter 11, we see God’s angry side … and vow never to eat until we’re sick again. Suddenly, thoughts of Thanksgiving night is giving me chills instead of all the feels. The time frame of this chapter correlates with Exodus 16, and if you go back and give it a read, you can kind of see why God was so upset.
Writing prompt: study your history or your glow
If you didn’t already go back and read Exodus 16, do it now, and write about why you think God’s anger blazed against the people in Numbers 11. Alternatively, write about your glow! How do you shine for Jesus? Can others see it? Or how could you better shine for him?