Ps. 25:1-15; Num. 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21; John 7:37-39.
Prophesied, [Moses] gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied (vv. 24b, 25).
OT Pentecost or the Day of Weeks, occurred 50 days (7 weeks of days plus 1) after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, concluding the season after the Passover.
As a 50th day celebration, the Day of Weeks anticipated Judaism’s 50th year of Jubilee for the forgiveness of debts in the Land. Jesus employs the notion of Jubilees to himself saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:19-21). As for NT Pentecost it concludes our Easter season in delivery of the HS to the church.
Christians celebrate holy times, not according to a 7-day Sabbath cycle, but week by week, i.e., the Lord’s new 8th day to Sunday 8th day; so also, Pentecost is a concluding 8th weekday or 50th day to Easter’s seven-week season. Now if all that is as clear as mud; it is thus far the corresponding math of the Old and NT calendars.
But the important thing about the two Pentecost days is the “Promise of the Father” (Lk. 24:49), his bestowal of the HS on the church. Pentecost draws our minds to God taking from Moses a share of his prophetic Spirit and placing it on Israel’s Seventy elders.
With this historic event the exodus’ of both the Old and New Covenants comes into view: Israel’s baptism through the Red Sea on journey to the Promised Land; and Easter’s exodus out of death to eternal life by Baptism into the flesh of Christ. Faith is required for both departures, that is otherwise impossible apart from the Spirit’s gift of preaching (prophesy).
In the wilderness there was in Israel an element of riff-raff inciting the people to challenge Moses’ leadership, causing him to be overwhelmed in his responsibilities. The people were becoming a rabble complaining of God’s manna feeding; they wanted meat, fish, fruit, and spices eaten in their Egyptian servitude.
Moses’ dilemma with these belly demands, is reminiscent of Jesus testing Philip in a deserted place, on how to feed 5,000 men with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Like Philip, Moses was clueless of the abundance at hand, “Where am I to get meat to give all this people?” (Num. 11:13), a lament God chided for lack of faith, “Will the LORD’s hand be too short?” (v. 23).
But first the Lord countered the Israelite mob with order, directing Moses to select seventy representatives to share in his Spirit whose consecration would be affirmed in prophesying at the tent of meeting and by Eldad and Medad in the camp.
But of what did the Seventy elders prophesy? For this we look to the NT church on Pentecost Day. Jews from around the world heard the en-Spirited Christians prophesy, in their own language, of “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11): the Lord’s, atoning Supper and Cross for her Eucharistic feeding in this time of Resurrection, Ascension, and the Spirit’s enlightening.
So also, in the wilderness the Seventy elders prophesied of God’s coming “mighty works”, the feeding Moses thought impossible; arriving by “a Wind moved onward from the LORD and swept up quail from the sea and left them over the camp, about a days journey in every direction… about two cubits deep on the ground” (Num. 11:31).
God does not deal with men by abstractions, ideas and thoughts independent of our fleshly existence; that we call, “philosophy”. The point of Jesus’ Incarnation, Nativity, death and rising is existentially poured-out from his crucified flesh as water and blood by which the HS is given for the church (Jn. 19:30b); Christ’s flesh received in faith is the stuff of God’s new creation.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus attends the last, 8th “great day” of Tabernacles, which like the Day of Weeks prophesied the church’s in-gathering and Jubilee. On that day, the temple “Water Ceremony” consisted of “living-water”, cypher for the HS, poured over the altar flowing to the people.
Against this backdrop, Jesus cried, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me. And let him drink; whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of my own heart will flow rivers of living water’” (Jn. 7:37, 38). Jesus claimed to be the One from whom the HS proceeds for faith and Life; and that henceforth from the cross on Passover he would draw all men to himself for a new exodus (12:32) in handing-over the Spirit to the Father.
Jesus’ cry invites all who thirst for Torah’s Truth, to himself, source of the HS; he is Israel’s wilderness Rock struck by Moses’ staff in anger, from which “Living-Water” graciously flowed to the people (Num. 20:2-13).
So also, Jesus’ flesh fulfills Israel’s demand for meat; he is our NT Food prophesied (cf. 11:18b-20). Jesus taught, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you… Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him” (Jn. 6:53, 56). At this, many Jewish disciples rebelled, saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (v. 60).
Nevertheless, Peter confessed the faith of his apostolic brothers, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (vv. 68, 69).
After the Resurrection, Jesus’ body and blood, the NT church’s Supper, became the essential content of the apostolic prophesy; even as the Seventy OT elders prophesied by the Spirit of Israel’s abundant impossible meat.
Today, we live on the other side of Peter’s Pentecost Sermon; and again, there is faith-divide; many disbelieve and grumble about God’s food and drink provision for our exodus out of this world. But at God’s word you and I believe the church’s Eucharist to be the bread-Flesh and wine-Blood of the Crucified and risen Son of Man; a sacramental breaking and sharing of Bread.
By faith’s eating and drinking there is judgment: salvation or rejection of our NT manna, meat, and living-water in the One who is source and sustenance of the new creation’s abundant Life.
At Peter’s Pentecost prophesy, 3,000 Jews repented of unbelief; received Baptism for an in-gathering to word, Eucharistic prayer and meal (Acts 2:42). Amen.