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Numbers 11 and a Pentecostal Theology of Church Leadership

Therefore, I agree with the proposal of Wilf Hildebrandt and believe that the description of this event in Numbers 11 strongly suggests it is intended as a paradigm or prime example of what should be expected for all God-ordained leadership.1 The principles here should be considered normative for all God’s leaders. Furthermore, the wish that all God’s people would experience the Spirit’s prophetic empowering for ministry is precisely what Joel later predicted would happen and Peter declared as being fulfilled at Pentecost. Hildebrandt and Stronstad see Moses’ wish for the Spirit-gift for all as “programmatic” for the scriptural revelation of God’s plan for all who believe in him, looking ahead to the New Testament age.2 This pictured what God would provide in the “last days” through Christ. Further support for this intent in Numbers 11 can be seen in the occurrence of the two from the seventy prophesying in the camp. They were listed among the seventy elders but they did not go to the tent. God still put his Spirit on them, which elicited the concern of Joshua, to which Moses responded with the wish. This strongly suggests that God in His sovereignty wanted this empowering, prophetic, experience of his Spirit to move beyond any leadership establishment to the general population of believers. Numbers 11 provided for the leaders of Israel what God wants for all His covenant people. Thus, it was intended to be both paradigmatic and programmatic. Just as Numbers 11 involved empowering for ministry and facilitating the purpose of God for his people under the old covenant, so the Acts 2 event empowered the people of God in the New Testament to be his witnesses. As the elders of Israel were shown to have prophetic intimacy with God, so all God’s people, after the coming of the Messiah, were to be so intimate with God that they would be “the prophethood of all believers,”3 as well as the priesthood of all believers. God desires an intimate relationship with all who will receive him that involves empowering by his Spirit to speak for him, be his witnesses, and fulfill his purpose in the world.


Implications and Principles

The description in Numbers 11 is intended as a prime example of what should be expected for all God-ordained leadership.

There are many implications here for the lives and ministries of God’s people today. As I described the context and overview of the events of Numbers 11, probably various topics relevant to the lives of God’s people were evident to many readers. Teachings such as: the journey of God’s people; group dynamics occurring on such a journey; challenges, trials and temptations to God’s people on his mission; stresses in the ministry; the walk of faith; God’s goals for his people; prophecy; the Holy Spirit; and the one I have chosen for this essay, leadership in the ministry of God’s people can be derived.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2009

About the Author: Roger D. Cotton, S.T.M., Th.D. (Concordia Seminary) and M.Div. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), is Professor of Old Testament at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri since 1987. He is the author of a commentary on Leviticus in The Complete Biblical Library (World Library Press, 1995) and the chapter on the laws of the Pentateuch, “God Reveals Himself to His People,” in They Spoke from God: A Survey of the Old Testament (Logion Press, 2003). He was an associate pastor at West County Assembly of God in St. Louis from 1983-1987. He is a member of The Institute for Biblical Research and the Society of Biblical Literature.

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