Let’s read Numbers 11:24-25: “So Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied” (KJV). Before we delve into this, it is important to note that the word “spirit” in verse 25 has a capital “S” in most (if not all) other translations. Thus, it is the Holy Spirit that is in view here and not simply “the spirit of knowledge and wisdom.”

In this point in time, Moses had become overcome with a feeling of inadequacy; he felt the Lord had given him to many “burdens to bear.” We see this earlier in verses 10-14, “Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. So, Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carried a nursing child,” to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, “Give us meat, that we may eat.” I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness” (NKJV)! Moses was truly overwhelmed by this trial! He felt he was “at the end of his rope” and wished the Lord would kill him so he could escape the burden which, he said, “is too heavy for me.” Before we go on, can we not identify with Moses? Do we not, at times, feel the heavy burdens of life are crushing us? Yet the Lord has told believers today, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1st Corinthians 10:13). God is a faithful and compassionate God and He knows our limits. When the burden becomes “too heavy” He comes in with grace to give us enough relief to “be able to bear it.”

In our verse for today we see God giving the same grace to Moses to enable him “to bear the burdens” that were bringing him down. In verses 16-17 we read, “So the LORD said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of the Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.” So, Moses gathered the seventy men and God put His Spirit upon them, and they were able to prophesy in the power of the Spirit. This was visible evidence to Moses and the people that the “same Spirit” that was given to Moses was given to them. How did Moses react to God’s grace in giving them the Spirit? Ah, he was indeed “relieved of his burden” and thankful for the men God had endowed with such power. This is confirmed as we read on for when two of the men “prophesied in the camp” (verses 26-27) Joshua turned to Moses and said (in verse 28), “Moses my lord, forbid them!”  Moses said to Joshua, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’S people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” See here that Moses was not only thankful, but HUMBLE. He knew that Joshua was zealous for Moses and the position he had held as the sole leader of God’s people, but Moses was more than willing to share that position of leadership and he even expressed a desire to see ALL of God’s people empowered by the Spirit of God.

In closing, I believe when it says the “same Spirit” was given to the seventy it simply means they had all been given power by the Spirit which would enable them to fulfill their new role of a shared leadership with Moses. As to who had “more knowledge and wisdom” we can’t say. What we can say is that God, who is sovereign, gave them the “same Spirit” so they all had the “same authority and qualifications” to help Moses lead the people. And so it is today, for God has given believers the Spirit of God to empower us. The Spirit gives us power to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8; 2:1-39; 6:5, 8-10). The Spirit gives us power to worship God (Philippians 3:3). The Spirit gives us power to lead holy lives (Romans 8:1-4). The Spirit of God gives us power to pray (Romans 8:26-27). And the Spirit of God gives us power to see, by faith, the glory of Christ (2nd Corinthians 3:17-18 and Acts 7:55-56).  (DO)  (537.1)