And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, "Moses my lord, forbid them!" Then Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"
Zealous for What?
How easy it is to misplace our zeal. Around 1420 A.D., "golfe" or "the Gouf" became so popular that King James II of Scotland feared the pastime placed the country at risk in its ongoing war with England. He reasoned that his men were spending too much time chasing the "golfe" ball and too little time practicing archery. Consequently the king persuaded his government to pass an act of parliament banning "golfe." Obviously, his zeal was misplaced, not to mention ineffective.
Joshua also had a misplaced zeal. As the assistant to Moses, he considered it his responsibility to make sure his master's power and influence were not threatened. Since part of Moses' authority stemmed from the fact that God spoke through him, the thought of others prophesying or speaking for the Lord disturbed Joshua. In his enthusiasm to protect his master's position, he was ready to hinder the proclamation of God's Word.
Over the centuries, God has used many instruments to proclaim His Word. Sometimes these instruments possessed questionable motives. The apostle Paul noted that some "preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely" (Phil. 1:16). His conclusion? "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice" (v. 18).
Our zeal must primarily focus on the message, not the messenger. If the Word of God is being faithfully proclaimed, let's rejoice. God sometimes chooses the least likely to speak for Him. If someone is not a true spokesman for Him, God will take care of that. We need not worry.
Be zealous for the message; God will judge the messenger.