Sometimes we forget just how funny the Bible can be, but there really is a lot of humor in the Scriptures. Sunday’s Track 2 Old Testament Lesson is chief among them. Throughout the Torah, we hear the story of the people’s unfaithfulness and grumbling against Moses and the Lord. They sound like the well worn trope of kinds on a long car ride, “I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m hot. I’m cold. He’s touching me. She’s looking at me.” Only the make it even worse by wishing they were back in Egypt, back living as something less than humans, bonded in slavery, doing back breaking work.
The rabble grumble and complain and complain and grumble until the anger of the Lord (and of Moses) is stoked into red hot fury, when Moses turns to God and says, “You fix this. These are your people, not mine. I’m not their father, you are. Fix their troubles. Give them meat to eat or go ahead and put me to death.” By now, to say that God is displeased would be an understatement, but God cares for Moses and God cares for his Chosen People. So God tells Moses that he will fix things, by taking some of the load off of his shoulders. God instructs Moses to gather 70 of the elders in the tent of meeting where he will take some of the spirit that is on Moses and share it with them.
The RCL Divining Rod skips over God’s promise that the Hebrews will have so much meat that “it will come out of your nostrils and become loathsome to you,” which is also quite hilarious, but we do get the amazing and humorous story of Eldad and Medad. Moses gathered the 70, just as God had instructed, and the spirit came upon them with power and might. But there were two men, Eldad and Medad, who were not in the tent, but prophesied anyway, and now Joshua is the one who is angry. “Tell them to quit!” he shouts at Moses, but Moses, at least in the way I imagine this scene, looks up to heaven with a wry smile and says, “Well played, God. Well played. Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets.”
God is always ready to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. God is always there to stretch our expectations and to remind us of who is ultimately in charge. In that moment, Moses realized that God was in control and that it wasn’t that God was leaving Moses to handle things on his own, but that Moses was quite capable because God was with him. Two old men in the middle of the camp reminded Moses of God’s great power. What is your reminder?