Apportioning God's Breath
Christopher B. Harbin
It is hard for us to focus on things spiritual, especially when we are consumed with baser issues like food. Comfort, warmth, hunger, thirst, and other immediate concerns often interfere with our grappling with those issues we consider more spiritual. In the Bible, however, these issues are all bound up together, even if we often cannot quite understand them as related. God, however, calls us to see both the spiritual and mundane as part of a whole.
We make the distinction between economic concerns, dietary issues, workplace demands, and leisure activities, keeping them separate from the spiritual or religious aspects of our lives. We even make a distinction between those called to full-time ministry as somehow different from those whose jobs are not in a church or other non-profit institution. We somehow entrust our official ministers with greater responsibility for living in God's presence than what we expect of others.
Moses struggled with these issues in relating to the people under his charge. He wanted to focus on the spiritual issues of following Yahweh's instructions, yet the crowds following him were insisting on asking him for meat to eat in contrast to the manna Yahweh had provided for their needs. Moses wanted to focus on leading worship, while they wanted him to feed them. He cried out in frustration to God, unsure how he should respond to their mundane concerns, knowing that he did not have access to butcher stores with the stock to feed hundreds of thousands of people.
Yahweh responded in unexpected ways to Moses' cry. For one thing, Yahweh addressed the more spiritual concern of the people's lack of trust. Secondarily, Yahweh answered with the promise to address the physical craving of the people for meat to eat. In addressing the spiritual issue, Yahweh spoke of placing a portion of the spirit or breath of God upon Moses upon a number of the leaders of the nation, as w ...
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