The Old Testament Lesson for this Pentecost Sunday is written in Numbers, the fourth book of the Torah. The text is Numbers 11:24-30 and follows the complaint of the people against the manna and Moses. Then Moses complains to the LORD and asks God if He would just, “Kill me now!” so he could escape dealing with this stubborn group of people. The LORD responds by having Moses appoint 70 elders to help bear the burden. Now, in our pericope, the LORD took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed it upon these chosen leaders. Note the LORD came down in the cloud, which we would assume is the Glory Cloud.

It is interesting how the Spirit’s manifestation of prophesying was a temporary thing. Verse 25, “…and they did not continue doing it.” Verse 29, “…would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!” On this Day of Pentecost, it is important to explore the differences between the Old Testament Spirit and the New Testament Spirit. Of course, they are the same Spirit—the Holy Spirit—but the action and work of the Spirit changes from the OT to the NT.

First, it is the Holy Spirit who works faith in the hearts of men in both the Old and New Testament. This is not different, although the means of grace are different. In the Old it is the Word and the Sacraments, but the sacraments are Circumcision and the Passover (sacrificial system). In the New Testament the means of grace are the Word, Baptism and Holy Communion. These are the means through which the Spirit works faith. Second, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is not a temporary manifestation. It is the Spirit who empowers the Church and helps us to live and walk by faith. In the Old Testament the Spirit comes and goes as we see here in the text. Think also of Samson who does great feats of strength only when the Spirit comes upon him. This all changes when Jesus sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit upon His Church.

It is the Spirit who empowers the Church and helps us to live and walk by faith.

11:24 וַיֵּצֵא: (vai-ye-Tze) root: יצא (yaw-tsaw) Qal: “to go out”

וַיְדַבֵּר: (vay-dab-Ber) root: דבר (daw-bar) Piel: “to speak; to tell”

וַיֶּאֱסֹף: (vai-ye-e-Sof) root: אסף (aw-saf) Qal: “to gather”

וַיַּעֲמֵד: (vai-ya-a-Med) root: עמד (aw-mad) Hiphil: “to cause to stand; to place”

סְבִיבֹת. (se-vi-Vot) root: סבב (saw-beeb) Qal, participle: “to surround, to go around (around); circuit”

11:25 וַיֵּרֶד: (vai-Ye-red) root: ירד (yaw-rad) Qal: “to go down; to descend”

וַיָּאצֶל: (vai-Ya-tzel) root: אצל (aw-tsaal) Qal: “to take away” Could also be Hiphil: “to set apart; to lay aside; to reserve”

וַיִּתֵּן (vai-yit-Ten) root: נתן (naw-than) Qal: “to give; to put; to place”

כְּנוֹחַ. (ke-No-ach) root: נוח (noo-akh) Qal, infinitive: “to rest”

11:26 וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ (vai-yish-sha-a-Ru) root: שׁאר (shaw-ar) Niphal: “to remain; to stay”

בַּכְּתֻבִים; (bak-ke-tu-Vim) root: כתב (kaw-thab) Qal, participle: “to write; to assign” “registered ones”

וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ: (vai-yit-nab-be-U) root: נבא (naw-baw) Hithpael: “to prophesy”

11:27 מִתְנַבְּאִים (mit-nab-be-Im) root: נבא (naw-baw) Hithpael, participle: “prophesying”

11:28 מְשָׁרֵת. (me-sha-Ret) root: שׁרת (shaw-rath) Piel, participle: “to assist; to serve; to minister (assistant)”

מִבְּחֻרָיו (mib-be-chu-Rav) “youth; of youthful condition; [one] of his choice men”

כְּלָאֵם. (ke-la-Em) root: כלא (kaw-law) Qal: “to restrain; to shut up; to shut down”

11:29 הַמְקַנֵּא; (ham-kan-Ne) root: קנא (kaw-naw) Piel: “to be zealous for; to campaign for; to be jealous for”

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Numbers 11:24-30.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Numbers 11:24-30.