Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Spirit is like the wind. You can’t control it. You don’t know where it goes or when it goes. God is in control of the dispensation and the bestowal of His Holy Spirit.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 15.

God establishes leaders. We need to decide how we’ll interact with the leaders He puts in place. Will we criticize, complain, and look for ways to advance our own agenda?

Let’s look at Joshua’s response, as Nancy continues in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 2): Learning to Be Teachable." 

Nancy: We’re following the life of Joshua, and we’re looking at different snapshots in his life. Some of you are wondering, Are we ever going to get to the book of Joshua?

There are a lot of accounts that relate to his life that we find in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, so we’re looking at those first. These are the early years of his life—not his childhood, but his years of preparation and learning and training for leadership.

Then, when we get to the book of Joshua, which I’m still studying, we’ll get to the part where he leads the people of God. Then at the end of his life, we’ll see him leaving a legacy.

But he’s still in training, still in preparation for ministry, and a lot of the learning he’s doing is from his mentor, Moses. Joshua is Moses’ assistant, so the things that are happening concerning Moses are making an impression on Joshua’s life.

I hope you have godly, wise heroes in the faith. Now, don’t put your trust in men, because men will fail, and Moses did have a major failure. He never got to see the Promised Land.

You can learn from people’s failures as well. So don’t put your trust or your hope in people, only in the Lord.

But I hope that you are around people who model godliness and holiness and a desire for the things of God. There’s so much we can learn, especially as younger women, from people who have been down the road a little further than we have.

Joshua’s name next appears in the book of Numbers chapter 11. We left him where he was in the tent of meeting in Exodus chapter 33. Then we go to Numbers 11, so let me ask you to turn there. This is an obsure mention in the life of Joshua. If I asked you to list all the stories about Joshua, chances are you would not think of this story. It's one that's not as familiar like the Battle of Jericho, the Sin of Achan. This is not one of those familiar stories, but it has a lot to teach us.

Let me give you some context here. After eleven months with the Children of Israel camped at Mount Sinai, the Children of Israel are finally on their way toward the Promised Land, on their way toward Canaan. Ever since they left Egypt, they have seen God’s hand protecting them, providing for them. Everything they have needed, God has done for them or given to them.

Now we come to chapter 11 as the people set out. In the first 9 verses of chapter 11 (we’re not going to read those), we find the people murmuring, complaining about their conditions.

There are two back-to-back occasions referenced in this first part of Numbers 11. In verses 1–3, it says “the people complained . . . about their misfortunes” (v. 1). It doesn’t say what those misfortunes were—it could have been any number of things—but we do know they weren’t praising God for His goodness; they were complaining about their misfortunes.

Isn’t that like human nature? The Children of Israel had a bajillion things they could have thanked God for:

  • The fact that they were still alive.
  • They had food to eat.
  • They had water to drink.
  • They had clothes and shoes.
  • God was meeting all their needs.
  • They had the glory of God and the cloud by day and the fire by night leading them, directing them, protecting them. Egyptians came after them, and God did away with them.

Everything they needed, God did, yet we find them here complaining about their misfortunes. How sick is that?

And how like us is that? Complaining about our misfortunes in the midst of all the good things God has poured out on us.

In verses 4–6, they’re more specific about their complaining. This is the second instance. God judges the first instance; they come back, they’re still complaining.

They say, “We [want] meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt. . . . But now . . . there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” So the misfortune now is, they’re not content with the food they have. It’s not that they don’t have food; it’s that they’re not happy with the lack of variety. They want more variety in their menu, in their diet.

Well, by this point Moses has had it. Verse 10 tells us that he is displeased. He is fed up to here with these people.

He’s had all he can take of this murmuring, whining, griping, complaining . . . Do you ever feel this way as a mother? “I’ve had it with this griping and this complaining!”

Moses said to the Lord . . . "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.' I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once’” (vv. 11–13).

Now who’s murmuring? Now who’s complaining? Now it’s the leader! Moses is saying, “God, I would rather die than have to keep on bearing this burden.”

Have you ever been there? Well, maybe you didn’t have a death wish—maybe you did—but maybe you just thought, I cannot keep on handling this responsibility. I can’t handle these children. I can’t handle the people in this workplace; they are a bunch of losers, and I cannot keep going like this.

So we lash out at God. We say, “God, get me out of this situation!”

Well, God’s response to Moses, mercifully, is that He’s going to do two things. In verses 18–23, God says, I am going to miraculously provide meat for the people for the next month—so much meat that they’re going to be sick and tired of meat.

You want meat? You’re going to gorge yourself on this meat. You’re going to be sick of it.

God also says, “I’m also going to provide relief to help you carry the spiritual burden of these people.” Look at verses 16–17, where God describes how He’s going to do that:

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. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.”

Moses had insisted to God that he could no longer bear the burden of these people alone, so God mercifully responds by raising up and empowering other people—seventy men, seventy leaders—to share the burden and the responsibility with Moses. Now go down to verse 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. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him [as God had promised He would] and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied.

Let me stop right there before we finish up the passage and make two observations. First, Moses had to be willing to let others share the burden of ministry with him.

We saw this earlier in Exodus 17 when Aaron and Hur came and supported Moses’ arms so he could lift up his hands in the battle against the Amalekites. We saw there that Moses had to be willing not to do this alone, not to be a Lone Ranger, but to let others come and help him.

Sometimes that’s hard for us because we’re proud, and we want to think, I can do this on my own. Moses had to be willing to risk one of these seventy elders taking his place, or one of those elders gathering a following among the people, or being disloyal—a lot of human risks here.

He had to trust that the same Spirit who had directed him through all this process would also lead these men, that they would make good decisions, that they would lead well. And he had to be secure enough in the Lord to welcome these men displaying the gifts of the Spirit.

Let me say that in every season that we find ourselves in life, God knows what we can and can’t handle.

I am so grateful for those seasons when God has known that I could not handle this calling or these tasks on my own, and how God has raised up others to help bear the burden of the ministry that He’s entrusted to me. But I have to be willing to receive that provision and to welcome the unique gifts and strengths that those people bring.

I thank the Lord for our team at Revive Our Hearts. They are an incredible group of men and women who love the Lord, who walk with the Lord, who have a heart and a passion for this ministry of revival and biblical womanhood.

But I have to be willing to let them be a part of our team. I have to be willing to let them use their gifts. And we have different gifts.

We complement each other, but sometimes they don’t do things the way I would do them. If I’m a wise leader, I’m going to be appreciative of the different values and strengths and unique gifts that these people bring, and I’m not going to be insecure when God puts His Spirit on their life in a way that He hasn’t demonstrated it in mine. I’m going to rejoice when God uses them.

So we see Moses welcoming the provision and being willing to maximize this help that God provided.

Secondly, we see the importance of the Holy Spirit. There are five references to the Spirit in this passage.

There’s a whole lot we could say about the role of the Holy Spirit, particularly in the Old Testament, and much that I won’t say in this particular session, but I think it’s clear that we have highlighted here the importance and the necessity of the Holy Spirit as we seek to serve the Lord.

When I say that, I’m not just talking about people like myself who are in vocational Christian ministry. You say, “Yes, you’re a Bible teacher. Of course you need to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life. Of course you need the anointing of the Spirit.”

You need the fullness and the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life, in whatever God has called you to do at this season of your life. You dare not try to serve the Lord without the anointing, the enabling, and the empowering of His Holy Spirit. “All is vain unless the Spirit of the Lord comes down.”

So let me just make some observations about the ministry of the Spirit that we see in this passage. Again, as we get to the New Testament, we learn much more about the Holy Spirit.

We’re just seeing a glimpse here, under the old covenant, what new covenant believers would come to treasure and understand to a much fuller extent, but we do have some wonderful glimpses here.

We see that it was the Spirit of God divinely bestowed on human instruments that enabled Moses and these elders to fulfill the work that God had assigned to them. They could not do this apart from God. As God said to the prophet Zechariah, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zech. 4:6).

That is the source of our power to serve the Lord. It's the power of the Holy Spirit who is given to us—weak, fragile, frail vessels. But when God fills us with His Spirit, we can do anything that God has called us to do.

The burden of serving the Lord, the burden of being a wife, the burden of being a mother, the burden of being in the workplace, the burden of mentoring and discipling other women, the burden of serving God cannot be borne successfully apart from the enabling and empowering of the Spirit of God.

I think God wanted the people to know that He was their Leader, that the spectacular things they saw Moses doing—every time he lifted up his rod, something amazing happened—these things were not Moses’ ability. This was the power of God’s Spirit working in and through him.

So God gave the Spirit to these seventy men to show that it was not just Moses. “I can put My Spirit on anyone. Any weak instrument will do, any human vessel will do. I can anoint and empower whom I will.”

We see in this passage that the Spirit of God fits and equips otherwise normal human believers to do things they could never do apart from the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God enables us to bring God glory in ways that we could not do apart from Him. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit.

We see in verse 25 that “as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied.” It would take a lot longer than we have and someone a lot smarter than I am to go into the whole meaning of what is suggested here by the fact that they prophesied. But that phrase is literally, they caused to pour forth. That's what that word means.

What happened is that some supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit poured forth through these men's lips. They were given some kind of divine utterances to speak the praise or the works or the deeds of God that was not normal for them.

They were talking in ways they had never talked before. They were given a gift to glorify God in a way they had not been able to glorify God before. This was a visible evidence that God gave so the people would know that these men had the power of the Holy Spirit on them. You can’t see the Holy Spirit, so how were the Israelites to know that these seventy men had the Holy Spirit?

God gave them the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit in the form of prophesying—whatever that meant. It’s not described in any detail, so we can’t say for sure. But as we put passages together, it appears that they were glorifying God with their tongues, with their lips, in some way that was enabled by the Spirit of God.

God will enable you to do things that He calls you to do that are extraordinary—things that you could not do in your own energy, in your own strength.

It may be witnessing to your next-door neighbor. It may dealing with an issue with a teenage child, and God giving you words and wisdom to deal with the situation that you know you don’t have on your own. It may be God giving you the ability to lead a small group, and you say, “I could never do that. I'm so shy I can't even lead in silent prayer.”

When God calls you, when God gives you that opportunity, He will give you the power of His Spirit to speak out in ways that you could never do apart from Him. It takes the power of God’s Spirit to be a godly wife, to be a godly mother, to be a wise woman of God in an unwise, messed up, fallen culture. It takes the power of the Spirit of God.

You say, “I can’t do this.” Oh, ladies, I wish I had a nickel for every time I ever said about the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, “I can’t do this.” Each time we come up to recordings, I’m sitting in my study thinking, I can’t do this.

That's a great place to be. It's scary. I don't like it. I complain about it, but it's a great place to be, because when I realize I can’t do what God has called me to do, then I’m at a place where I can receive the anointing, the enabling, and the empowering of His Holy Spirit. Then everyone will know, “She didn’t do this.” God did this, and God gets the glory.

We see in this passage that we can’t control the work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t control who He gifts and how. That’s all up to Him.

Look at verse 26:

Now two men remained in the camp [two of these seventy who had been selected remained in the camp], one named Eldad, and the other named Medad [bet you haven’t thought a lot about them recently], and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered [among the seventy], but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.

For some reason that is not explained to us, these two men—some commentators think they may have been brothers; we don’t know, but they were two of the seventy—were still in the camp. They were not with the other elders, the other sixty-eight plus Moses, out at the tent of meeting.

We don’t know why. Maybe they were detained for some reason, but God supernaturally determined to bestow His Holy Spirit on these men just like He did the ones who were at the tent of meeting. These men also prophesied; they had evidence of the power of the Spirit being on them.

I think that may have been to show that the ministry of the Spirit did not depend on these people being around Moses. Moses was quite a leader, and people could begin to have undue regard for him. They might think wherever Moses is, there is something mystical about this man. You just get the power of the Spirit when you get around Moses.

It was not the spirit of Moses that came on these men. It was the Spirit of God. It didn't depend on them being near Moses. It depended on God being near these men. That was demonstrated by the fact that these two men received this gift of the Holy Spirit.

It reminds us that God is not limited to our preconceived notions about where, when, and through whom He will work. We can’t say, “God only works this way,” or “This is how God always works in every situation.”

The Spirit is like the wind. You can’t control it. You don’t know where it goes and when it goes. God is in control of the dispensation and the bestowal of His Holy Spirit.

Now we come to verse 27: “A young man [a man who had been in camp and had seen these two men get this gift of the Spirit] ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’”

I don't know what tone of voice he used. I don't know if he was excited about that or if he was distressed. But obviously, he thought it was something out of the ordinary that Moses needed to know. Joshua heard this report. There Joshua where he always is, right next to Moses, and he was disturbed. It didn't seem right to him. He couldn't imagine this being from God. This didn't fit the mold of how Joshua thought God was supposed to work.

So Joshua speaks up, and it’s as if he can’t restrain himself. It says in verse 28, “Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them.’” This isn’t right; don’t let this go on!

Now, we’re not told why Joshua responded this way. Perhaps he didn’t want anything to detract from Moses’ authority or to diminish Moses in the eyes of the people. That appears to be at least a part of his motive, because of Moses’ response. Moses had a bigger view, and he was in no way threatened by the perceived competition.

So Moses responds to Joshua in verse 29: “Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake?’” I think that’s an evidence of something that Moses was picking up on, or maybe God gave him discernment of what was in Joshua’s heart.

“‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!’”

“Are you jealous?” That word jealous, in some of your translations it may actually be translated zealous; it can mean one or the other.

The word actually comes from an Arabic root that means “to become very red.” It’s a picture of somebody who becomes red-faced because of a very strong sense of either jealousy or zealous passion within them.

It may be to be filled with righteous zeal, or it may be to be filled with unholy jealousy, but it’s something that is a very strong emotion. Moses says to Joshua, “You don’t need to be jealous, red-faced, for my sake.”

I think Joshua was both zealous and jealous for Moses' honor. He was loyal to God's appointed leader. He didn't want anything going on that would threaten that or diminish Moses in any way. As we look at Moses, we see that he was free from personal ambition.

Moses actually rejoiced at the thought of God widening the scope of His work to include other people in other places. He didn’t feel like God had to consult him before He determined on whom He would put His Holy Spirit.

More importantly, Moses didn’t feel like he had to control God or this situation. He didn’t have to have it his way. He didn’t have to know what was going on. He didn’t have to be in charge of what was going on. He was secure in God’s sovereign control.

We see this same spirit in Luke 9, where the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us” (v. 49). He’s not doing it our way. He’s not part of our club. He’s not part of our group.

What did Jesus say to that disciple? He said, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you” (v. 50).

There’s this broad spirit that includes any and all of God’s servants who are set apart by God and anointed by His Spirit to do His work. They don’t have to do it our way, and we don’t have to control when and how and where it happens.

So here’s another foundational lesson for Joshua, and one that’s going to prepare him to be the next leader, after Moses, of God’s people. He sees that you must have the power of the Holy Spirit in order to do the work of God, and that a leader needs to be willing to let God work through others.

Moms, aren’t you glad for people that God raises up to be influences in your children’s lives? If you feel like you have to be the only one who’s mentoring or training them, you’re going to have a very narrow little world.

God may want to put His Spirit on others to speak a word of truth or blessing or encouragement to your children. Can you rejoice in that?

We see Joshua learning from Moses not to be protective of his turf, for Moses was not building his own kingdom, but the kingdom of God.

When we get to chapter 12 of Numbers (we’re not going to study that passage), we see Moses’ brother and sister, Miriam and Aaron, mounting up an insurrection against Moses. They were upset over the woman Moses had married, and they challenged Moses’ authority.

It’s interesting to me that you never see Joshua involved in that rebellion or in any other rebellion against the leadership of Moses. When the sons of Korah rose up, you don’t see Joshua participating in that rebellion.

So Moses says to Joshua here, “Don’t be jealous for my sake,” but I think a good quality we see in Joshua’s life is a loyal spirit. He is not going to stand by and let someone criticize God’s leader or be disloyal to God’s leader. We see him being a faithful follower, even if he got a little over excited in this situation. But we also see him following in such a way that one day when he became a leader, he would inspire people to follow and be loyal to him.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has offered important words about when dissent and complaining are common. Supporting godly leadership is ultimately about following God. Nancy will be right back to pray.

I want to be a learner all my life. When I think I don’t need to learn anything new, I’m in trouble. It’s an important concept that has come through in our current series, "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 2): Learning to Be Teachable."

We’d like to help you learn more about the book of Psalms and to learn how to develop a habit of studying God’s Word.  To do that, we’d like to send you a workbook Nancy wrote called A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms.  Why thirty days?  As you study these psalms with Nancy, you’ll be developing a habit of digging into Scripture for yourself.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll say "thanks" by sending you A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or donate and indicate you’d like the workbook by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

It’s the final day we’re letting you know about this offer—one workbook per household for your gift of any amount. So let us hear from you today.

Nancy will pick back up on the life of Joshua later next week, with Part 3 of the Joshua series. But first, on Monday and Tuesday, Crawford and Karen Loritts will bring you an honest, engaging, biblical talk on living out your marriage vows. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. Now Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: Father, thank You so much for the power of Your Holy Spirit, the gift of Your Spirit. Thank You for the filling and the enabling and empowering of Your Holy Spirit to do that which You have called us to do.

May we recognize our dependence on You, and may we rejoice when we see Your Spirit using others around us to fulfill Your purposes as well. May we not be building our own kingdoms but wanting to see Your kingdom built, and may we rejoice in whoever You’re pleased to do that. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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