Summary: We will see the desire of God and the design of God in anointing a prophetic people for His glory. (1) Spoken through Moses in Numbers 11 (2) Exemplified in Jesus.
A Prophetic Heritage
Series: Book of Acts #2
Acts 1:1-2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” Last week we learned that the book of Acts is the second volume in a two volume work by Luke. There is a flow of thought that runs through both volumes that helps us understand the message of Acts.
Today we go back to the Gospel of Luke at a pivotal point in God’s plan—Jesus’ baptism and anointing for public ministry. In the clip you are about to see, John the Baptist is ministering under a powerful unction of the Holy Spirit. He prophesies the ministry of Jesus and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Pay close attention to his words at the end of this clip. Show “The Jesus Film”: Begin ch. 7 (0:06:27) to (0:09:05).
John was the last of the great prophets before the coming of Jesus. His statement in Luke 3:16 links the old with the new—“John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’” The baptism of John was a powerful call to repentance for the nation of Israel. But it was only a preparation for greater things. John baptized with water; but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. As a foundation for interpreting Acts we will look at the flow of prophetic anointing in the Old Testament and then in the Gospel of Luke. We will see the desire of God and the design of God in anointing a prophetic people for His glory.
I. God’s Desire Spoken by Moses
One of the clearest revelations of God’s heart toward His people is found in Numbers 11. Turn there with me. Moses has hit a wall of discouragement. In verse 11 he asks God this question, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?” (NIV) He is complaining about the burden of his ministry. In verses 16 and 17 God answers Moses. He tells him to gather seventy elders (people already recognized as leaders) at the Tent of Meeting—the place God had chosen to meet with them. Then God promises to distribute the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is on Moses to those seventy leaders as well. What does that foreshadow? It foreshadows the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:3-4 “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” On the Day of Pentecost the anointing of the Anointed One, Jesus, was distributed upon one hundred and twenty of His followers.
What was the purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...” Now look at Numbers 11:17 and you will see that same purpose in Moses’ situation. Num 11:17 “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.” The principle in both texts that we must not miss is the purpose for the outpouring of the Spirit. That purpose is empowerment for service—empowerment for service. That is an essential key for understanding the Holy Spirit in Acts.
Now follow with me as we read Numbers 11:24 & 25 “So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.” Two observations from that last sentence. (1) When the Holy Spirit came upon these people something observable happened. “When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied....” The Hebrew form for the word “prophesied” indicates visible, physical demonstrations of some kind. People knew that the Spirit of the Lord had come upon them as in Acts 2. (2) “...they did not do so again.” Although this event foreshadowed Pentecost it did not yield the same abiding influence.
Numbers 11:26-30 “However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ 28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, ‘Moses, my lord, stop them!’ 29 But Moses replied, ‘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!’ 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.” Moses’ response in verse 29 is a genuine refection of the Father’s heart and the Father’s plan. “I wish that all the LORD’S people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!” Joel prophesies that this will happen and we see it happening in Acts 2. Here is what we must understand from this. It is God’s purpose and desire that His people from the least to the greatest be Spirit inspired and empowered—that the church be a prophetic community of believers operating in the supernatural unction of the Holy Spirit. What we see happening in Acts 2 flows out of what God had been doing all through the Old Testament and in the Gospels. 1 Cor 14:31 “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” I want you to get this concept of supernaturally inspired prophetic community in mind as we approach Acts 2.