Biblical Principle #165: The Holy Spirit Was Given to Select Individuals

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Prior to the Messiah, GOD gave His Spirit to select individuals.


We previously established how Israel grumbled because of their circumstances in the wilderness.

The very next verses in the historical record of Numbers 11 show that Israel did not learn the lesson, because they complained about not having meat.

4 Now the mixed multitude among them hungered exceedingly; and sitting down, the children of Israel were also weeping, and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish we ate freely in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our soul is dried up; there is nothing before our eyes except this manna.”

Numbers 11:4-6 OSB

Hearing this exasperated Moses. Unlike Israel, Moses took his pleas to GOD:

10 Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their tribes, everyone at his door; and the anger of the Lord was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. 11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You maltreated Your servant? Why have I not found grace in Your sight, that You lay the wrath of this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land You swore to their fathers? 13 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.’ 14 I am not able to bear this people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If You treat me like this, kill me here and now—if I find mercy in Your sight—and do not let me see my maltreatment.”

Numbers 11:10-15 OSB

GOD gave Moses a solution, which involved giving the Holy Spirit to 70 eldes of Israel so they could help Moses:

16 So the Lord said to Moses, “Gather to Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you yourself know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of testimony, so they may stand there with you. 17 Then I will descend and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit upon you and put Him upon them; and they shall help you bear the wrath of the people, that you yourself may not bear them alone. 18 Then you shall say to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept before the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat to eat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but for a whole month you shall eat, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you disobeyed the Lord, who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?”’”

21 Then Moses said, “The people I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You are saying, ‘I will give them meat, so they may eat for a whole month.’ 22 Shall sheep and oxen be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand unable to provide for them? Now you shall know whether or not My word will overtake you.” 24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. 25 Then the Lord descended in the cloud and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit upon him, and put Him upon the seventy men of the elders; and when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, although they never did so again. 26 But two men remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other, Medad, and the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those registered, but had not come to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. 27 So a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, who was near Moses, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Lord Moses, forbid them.” 29 Then Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people might be prophets, when the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” 30 So Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and brought birds from the sea that migrate together with quail, and cast them upon the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. 32 Then the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the birds (he who gathered least gathered ten cors); and they spread the meat out to dry for themselves all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the Lord’s anger was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. 34 So he called the name of that place Graves of Lust, because there they buried the people who lusted. 35 Then the people broke camp to go to Hazeroth, and they camped at Hazeroth.

Numbers 11:16-35 OSB

GOD was clearly getting fed up (pun intended) with Israel’s whining. No doubt the journey was hard. But we do not see the masses taking their concerns to GOD or asking for help and strength, only that they focused on what they didn’t have or how things used to be when they were back in Egypt (where they were complaining of their suffering there, too).

The Holy Spirit Given to Few

At creation, man (and woman) were given the Spirit which is life. There was union with GOD. The union and lifeline was severed with Adam and Eve’s sin.

Chronologically, after the Fall, the first person specifically mentioned as having the Spirit of GOD was Joseph (see Genesis 41:38). In Exodus 31:1-3, GOD said He filled Bezalel with the Holy Spirit so the he could build the tabernacle and its furnishings according to GOD’s will.

In Numbers 11, as we have read, GOD says Moses had the Holy Spirit and the Spirit was given to these 70 elders of Israel.

The Spirit of GOD came upon Balaam and he prophesied (see Numbers 24).

Later, King Saul was given the Holy Spirit (see 1 Samuel 11:6) but He eventually left because of Saul’s wickedness, to be replaced by an evil spirit (see 1 Samuel 16:14).

Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, prior to Jesus the Messiah, GOD’s Holy Spirit was only given to specific individuals as He saw fit.

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