Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested upon them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.
Eldad in the Hebrew means God loves, and Medad means object of love. These men were appropriately named. Taylor suggests that Eldad is the leader from the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad mentioned in Numbers 34:21.
For some reason these two men were not with the rest of the group around the tent of the tabernacle. All the leaders of the community were at the tabernacle. But God wanted the rest of the people to hear his message also. So Godís Spirit filled these two men to overflowing and they were compelled to speak Godís words to the common people.
What the men prophesied is unknown, but there was ancient reference to a Book of Eldad and Modad which contained their utterances. As Fortune points out, "It furnished the basis for a lost work which was quoted by Hermas: ĎThe Lord is near to them who return unto him, as it is written in Eldad and Modad, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness.í The Palestine Targums also filled in the subject of the prophecy of Eldad and Modad, and, as they have it, it related to the coming of Gog and Magog against Israel at the end of the days. One of the Targums has the expression, ĎThe Lord is near to them that are in the hour of tribulation.í The authors of the Targums were either dependent upon that work or upon a similar tradition; and the former of these views is the more probable. Lightfoot and Holtzman think the lengthy quotation in 1 Clem 23 and 2 Clem 11 is from the Book of Eldad and Modad."
And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
This was certainly unusual. Worshipping God was something you did at the tabernacle. Today, we would say worshipping God is something we do at church. But here Eldad and Medad were proclaiming God to the people in the camp.
Matthew Henry remarks, "They discoursed to the people of the things of God, and perhaps commented upon the law they had lately received with admirable clearness, and fulness, and readiness, and aptness of expression, so that all who heard them might see and say that God was with them of a truth"
God does not want to limit his message to only the church. He wants us to take the message to the streets, and the homes, and the stores. When we work, when we play, when we study, when we purchase, let us take Godís message with us.
These two prophets showed their excitement for God in a visible way. Is that the way our city views Christians today?
In the 19th Century, when people had their picture taken, have you noticed that they never smiled? They considered a serious expression preferable. They thought if they smiled, people would think they were simpletons and not intelligent. Well, times have changed, but it seems some Christians think theyíre still living in the 19th Century by the expression on their faces.
Butzer points out, "...the term prophet as used here...had reference to a certain frenzy or emotional excitement which was considered a manifestation of the spirit of God. Something of that sort, within bounds, a real enthusiasm for the church and the things of God, is always needed on the part of all the Lordís people. Is there not too much lethargy and complacency and indifference among us Christians...?"
And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, forbid them."
Joshua didnít like this unusual outburst. He knew that the only appropriate place to worship God was at the tabernacle and under the leadership of Moses. He felt compelled to lead a team to stop these renegade missionaries. It is sad, but this is often the attitude of our churches today. We will let the minister do the preaching, and we will be content to come to church and support its work, but we are silent Christians throughout the week. We donít feel it is our place to be a preacher.
God does not want us to be silent any longer. He wishes that we would proclaim the good news throughout our city, at our work place, in our neighborhood, and to our friends. It may be through acts of kindness, or words of encouragement. It may be through sharing our faith or explaining to someone the plan of salvation. It may be through praying for someone or helping them understand the Bible. But it must be done with the help of Godís Spirit.
Eldad and Medad had never done this before. But when Godís Spirit came upon them, they had to proclaim Godís goodness to the people. You may never have witnessed to anyone before. Allow Godís Spirit to help you share Christ with others.
But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lordís people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"
This was the first case recorded in the Bible of Prophet sharing - not PROFIT but PROPHET. God wants all his people to be prophets.
We should not be envious of the works of others - other churches, other ministers, other people. When we hear that God is blessing another church in our city, we should praise God, and not worry if we are missing out in some blessing. God has given us a ministry. He is blessing us in his unique way. Let us be willing to reach those whom God places in our pathway.
Matthew Henry comments, "...let the example of Moses be imitated by those that are in power; let them not despise the advice and assistance of others, but desire it, and be thankful for it, not coveting to monopolize wisdom and power. In the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
Do you feel the same as Moses? Do you desire that all Godís people were prophets? Do you desire that Godís Spirit would be upon all the members of the church, not just the minister? Let us be willing to have Godís Spirit flow through us and minister to others. Let us be willing to go out and proclaim the message of Christ to all those outside the church, to all those throughout our city.
Today, I would ask each of you to write on a piece of paper the names of two people with whom you come in contact every day or every week that you feel need to hear about Christís love. For one week, pray for the two people on that list. Starting with the second week, start looking for opportunities to share with them about Godís love. Continue praying for them. About a week after you have spoken to them about God, or sooner if appropriate, invite them to join you for one of our special services, a menís or womenís meeting, a Bible study, a Pot Luck, or Sunday morning service. Continue praying for them.
Be ready to listen to the small voice of the Spirit speaking in your heart, and be willing to share what God tells you to share. Some will accept your invitation, others will reject it; but keep on praying for them. Every four weeks or so, add two more names to your list and repeat this process. You may be surprised how God will use you when you are willing to be used.
This study on Numbers 11:24-29 © 1999 by David Humpal, all rights reserved.
Fausset: Bible Encyclopaedia and Dictionary pg. 194, Zondervan Publishing House
Taylor: The New Bible Dictionary pg. 356 © 1962, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Fortune: The International Standard Biblical Encyclopedia, electronic version © 1996, Biblesoft
Matthew Henryís Commentary, electronic version © 1996, Biblesoft
Butzer: The Interpreterís Bible, vol. 2, pg. 198 © 1953, Abingdon Press
Matthew Henryís Commentary, electronic version © 1996, Biblesoft