I came upon a curious passage of scripture recently that involved Moses and Joshua, the right hand man of Moses, and Eldad and Medad, elders in the camp of the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land.
There was much envy and strife in the camp, dating all the way back to the golden calf incident. Rebellious men and their entire families were swallowed up by giant chasms in the ground, burned to death with fire from heaven, or ordered to by Moses to killed by the sword.
In this case the Israelite people had plenty of manna, but now they longed for some meat. So Moses at the Lord's direction called the elders to come and surround his tent to address the complaints. The Lord was going to send quail for meat, but first He was going to show the elders His presence, which to date had only been directly seen by Moses.
The problem was two elders who didn’t obey the command. They were nowhere near Moses’s tent. I’m guessing no one missed Eldad and Medad at the sacred gathering. But then word spread that instead of attending the “tent meeting”, they were having their own “camp meeting” with God. A young man ran to Moses and gave the news of Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp rather than to obey Moses’s call for the elders to meet around his tent.
Here we go again, two more rebellious souls. Hadn’t they learned anything? Joshua called Moses to take action against the men to stop this horrific act. I again was expecting the two men to be brutally killed, or at the least to be struck with a plague.
But Moses, instead of becoming incensed at Eldad and Medad, said to Joshua: “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp. Numbers 11:29-30 (NIV).
Why was this passage so striking to me? As I grow older I see people, including myself, jockeying for positions with families, friends, in the workplace, churches, and in the world. We become offended easily when we don’t get the attention we think we deserve and we openly share our discontent.
I hope I’m becoming wiser to avoid this trap and instead try to follow the way of Moses. Rather than becoming angry at their disregard of the order to be present at the meeting called by the Lord Himself, Moses recognized that maybe God had called Eldad and Medad individually, perhaps to a “camp meeting” even before the “tent meeting” began.
See you next time,