3.34 Numbers -- Grumbling and Miracles
The first complaints against God by the Israelites came after only three days of travel. These complaints concerned unspecified hardships (Num 11:1). The fire of judgment fell on the people. Next, the "rabble" cried out for meat. The use of the word "rabble" indicates some of the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt. This time it was Moses who lost patience with them, and begged God to kill him, because the burden of Israel was too much for him.
Instead, God took part of the load of leadership off him and laid it on 70 elders. Both the responsibility and the Divine Spirit to meet those demands were put upon these men. When these elders stood around the tent of meeting, the Spirit fell on them and they prophesied (Num 11:25). This is the first occurrence of prophecy as a sign of the Spirit's coming upon a person. It was a temporary endowment, as a sign of their selection by God. The Spirit was not restricted by proximity to the tent, however. Two elders in the camp also began to prophesy, hearing of which Moses exclaimed:
"I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!" (Num 11:29)
Christians understand this verse as foretelling the day of Pentecost, yet it is also consistent with the purpose of God expressed in Ex 19:6:
"You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."