There’s no way the Acts 2 story was a total shocker for the disciples. They might not have expected the wind or the vision of fire or speaking in unknown tongues, but they did have this story that hinted that they’d prophesy. “Thanks, Moses. You’re a pal.”
The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
Now Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, each man at the doorway of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, and Moses was displeased.
What you permit in your life will influence you
This is no small party of whiners. “Hi, we’re the Whiners, party of two. Is our table ready?”
No. This is public grief similar to a tantrum. “Food miraculously appears from heaven, enough for all of us to eat–but I don’t want to eat it anymore! I’m gonna cry about it. Join me. Waaah!”
How does this get started? The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept…
The Israelites left Egypt with some Egyptians in tow, and the way in which this verse sets those people as the initial actors leaves me to think that they influenced the desires of the Israelites. Perhaps a little complaining that would lead to a revolt?
Which leads me to this question, and I’ll be careful how to phrase it:
What, not necessarily “Who”, but what do we allow in our relationship with God as a community that might negatively influence us?
Moses responds to the crisis with a death wish?
So Moses said to the Lord,
“Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me?
Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bossom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers?
Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’
I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me.
So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”
The Burden of Leadership?
I don’t know that Moses was completely being metaphorical here. “Too burdensome” seams to mean a literal burden because of how God responds:
The Lord therefore said to Moses,
“Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.
Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone. ….
Apparently there is a literal burden Moses is carrying, and God plans on relieving Moses not by completely removing it, but by distributing the burden among other leaders.
But wait! That’s not right. God isn’t taking the “burden”, He’s taking the Spirit from upon Moses and distributing the Spirit upon 70 leaders.
I don’t get it. How is that related? How does that help?
I don’t know yet. But it interests me that in Acts 2 the tongues of fire were “distributing themselves” on the heads of the disciples. God didn’t just anoint Peter as though he were the new Moses leader. He went straight to giving the Spirit to a crowd of people. Peter was not alone in leadership, nor were the rest of the core crew. “…they were all together in one place…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” Acts 1 tells us that the gathering of the brethren numbered about 120.
What Is and Isn’t Clear, Pay Attention Leaders
We may not understand the burdens that leaders carry, or how the Spirit is part of burdening or relieving the burden for leaders, but we can say that God doesn’t want leaders to suffer such strain that they’d rather die.
God doesn’t want to stress us to the max to get His will done. That’s not His way. His way is to support His leaders with what they need.
And apparently God not only can handle open communication from leaders, He responds to it.
Moses could NOT have changed the situation on his own. And God didn’t ask him to. God’s solution for the situation is to give people more of Himself, not more of Moses.
(more to come…)