Tuesday of Pentecost 18 – Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at…”

10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. 11 Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”

16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you… 

24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them 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 as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.

26 Now 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 the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, 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, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

I had been angry and had said some things I regret. A little while later I came to my son and apologized. He put his hand on my arm and said blessed words, “I forgive you, Dad.” I treasure that moment to this day.

Moses prays aloud at the end of this lengthy passage. He asks that God pour out His Spirit on all people. God answered that prayer on a Pentecost morning over a thousand years later as Peter, James, John, and the rest of the disciples proclaimed Jesus’ kingdom with tongues of fire on their heads. Peter said that this was to fulfill a prophecy of Joel that all flesh would prophecy. He could have also said that this was in answer to Moses’ prayer.

That outpouring of the Spirit on all has continued. It continued the day that held my infant son in my hands and poured the water of baptism over his head. He was given the same Spirit that Peter had. When he put his hand on my arm and said, “I forgive you,” he was probably about 5 years old. He was a child, but Jesus stood behind his words as surely as he did the apostles of old. He was a prophet of God in that moment. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven in heaven…  (Mt. 18:18 and Jn. 20:23) Earlier in the passage the people complain that all they have is this manna. They wake up every morning to a miracle and complain. Do we cast our eyes about looking for a miracle from God when one stands right in front of us and is available every day? Forgive a sinner today, seek forgiveness for your sins. Revel in the miracle of what God does through his people, even a little child.

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