The Day of Pentecost (Numbers 11:24-30)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
The Day of Pentecost + June 4, 2017
Text: Numbers 11:24-30

At this point in history, the Church needs to spend a lot of time straightening up the public office of the ministry—the preaching office.  In previous generations, it was never challenged that congregations need pastors, and of course those pastors are men.  However, when those simple truths are challenged by false teaching, it’s necessary for the Church to take a stand.[1]  So, this is why we drive home the point that Jesus called 12 men to be apostles (14 counting Matthias and Paul), that St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 that women are not to preach in the congregation, and that a pastor should be the husband of one wife.[2]
Likewise, when our Synod is pressured to distinguish between regularly-called pastors, “specific ministry” pastors, and licensed lay deacons[3] who do the work of pastors, we have to make a clear confession.  There is one Office, the “ministry of reconciliation”[4] to which the Lord gives His commands: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you…receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven. If you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”[5]  And it is to this one Office, the Lord attaches His precious promises: “The one who hears you hears me” and “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”[6]  So any talk of different levels or authority should be squashed by the Word of the Lord, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.”[7]
Indeed, Pentecost is an example of the Holy Spirit empowering the public Office of the Ministry.  Yet, the Holy Spirit is given to all who believe in Christ. So, today, we will consider Moses’ request, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets,[8] that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” and the Scripture quoted by Peter, “even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy.”[9]
The Third Person of the Trinity calls us to faith in Christ, out of darkness, makes us alive through the Word.  What does it mean to prophesy, though?  It means to be a bear God’s Word and announce it to others.
There’s an important point.  The Word of God does not enter your heart and stay there.  It’s not a treasure to be buried in the ground once you receive it.  The word “to prophesy” in Hebrew means to “bubble up or pour forth”[10]  In that way, Jesus says in the Gospel, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”[11]  The Word which God gives is not for you alone, but also for everyone whom you meet in your life!
By that same Spirit He empowers us to live faithfully, each in our vocations (where God has placed us in life).  Each of us has been called in Baptism to be a child of God, holy and beloved.  Each of us has received the Holy Spirit, and we each have a place in the Body of Christ and in the world.  Hear what St. Paul says about this in Romans 12:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)
Not everyone is a preacher, a man who publicly declares the Word of the Lord for the congregation.  And that is perfectly okay.  However, the Spirit does assign us teach a measure of faith “for the common good.”[12]  Every Christian is a bearer of God’s Word in word and deed.
As fathers and mothers, the Spirit gives the work of bringing up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”[13]–showing them while they’re young how important the faith is (even when the unbelieving world offers so many other options), and continuing to support and admonish them in the Lord after they are grown.  Sometimes this even comes in the form of godly grandparents rising to the occasion when the parents can’t or won’t.
As husbands and wives, the Spirit leads them to pray for one another and share God’s Word of encouragement and comfort with each other in difficult times.  In mixed faith marriages, this manifests itself in one spouse showing the patient, loving heart of God to the one who doubts or does not believe, with the hope that the Lord might win them.
As friends, the Spirit makes you prophets by the example of sharing the love which Christ has shown you, and by sharing what God has done and is doing whenever the occasion arises.
As students, the Spirit puts the Word in you, so that when the challenge comes against your Lord and His teaching, you would “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, being ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope within you.”[14]
It’s about prophesying where God places you.  Although the Spirit calls some to service to the Church, each Christian is called to everyday life.  While everyday life may not sound very exciting, for you who believe, it is a life that is built on the sure foundation of God’s mighty works.  In that you rejoice, and with that you touch the lives of your family, friends, and coworkers.  Praise the Lord that He is the One who works all this in and among us.  Amen!
[1] Galatians 2:4-5
[2] 1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 3:2
[3] The LCMS resolved at its 2016 convention to move such licensed lay deacons toward ordination. (Resolution 13-02A)
[4] 2 Corinthians 5:18
[5] John 20:21-23
[6] Luke 10:16, Matthew 28:20
[7] Matthew 20:25-27
[8] Hebrew does not have the word “prophets” but says, “as these” referring to Eldad and Medad who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, were prophesying.
[9] Acts 1:18 [Joel 2:29]
[10] NVA (Brown Driver Briggs)
[11] John 7:38
[12] 1 Corinthians 12:7
[13] Ephesians 6:4, KJV
[14] 1 Peter 3:15

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