So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you. I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself. And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wailed in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ’ But Moses said, ‘The people I am with number six hundred thousand on foot; and you say, “I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month”! Are there enough flocks and herds to slaughter for them? Are there enough fish in the sea to catch for them?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’Then there was Judges 14:
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all 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 when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’ And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Once Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw a Philistine woman. Then he came up, and told his father and mother, ‘I saw a Philistine woman at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.’ But his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there not a woman among your kin, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, because she pleases me.’ His father and mother did not know that this was from the Lord; for he was seeking a pretext to act against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.And one more. 1 Samuel 10:1-13:
Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah. When he came to the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion roared at him. The spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as one might tear apart a kid. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson. After a while he returned to marry her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.
His father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there as the young men were accustomed to do. When the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. Samson said to them, ‘Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments. But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.’ So they said to him, ‘Ask your riddle; let us hear it.’ He said to them,
‘Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.’
But for three days they could not explain the riddle.
On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Coax your husband to explain the riddle to us, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?’ So Samson’s wife wept before him, saying, ‘You hate me; you do not really love me. You have asked a riddle of my people, but you have not explained it to me.’ He said to her, ‘Look, I have not told my father or my mother. Why should I tell you?’ She wept before him for the seven days that their feast lasted; and because she nagged him, on the seventh day he told her. Then she explained the riddle to her people. The men of the town said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
‘What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?’
And he said to them,
‘If you had not ploughed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle.’
Then the spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he went down to Ashkelon. He killed thirty men of the town, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments to those who had explained the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, “The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?” Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt-offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. For seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.’What's most interesting about these particular passages is the effect upon the individual when the Spirit comes upon them. To say the people in question acted out of character would be an understatement. When the Spirit enters the elders, they prophecy with such power, it makes Joshua all nervous. Samson ends up, first, killing a lion. Then, he kills thirty people. Saul is described as being in a frenzy.
As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they were going from there to Gibeah, a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, ‘What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ A man of the place answered, ‘And who is their father?’ Therefore it became a proverb, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.
Kind of like Acts 2.
We mainline Christians are uncomfortable with these portrayals of the way the Spirit works in the lives of individuals. We prefer to think of the Spirit as a calming influence, a peaceful presence, and Divine Comforter, a word we associate with those big, heavy blankets in which we wrap ourselves to get all warm and comfy.
Tearing a lion limb from limb? Not so much. Frenzies are for Pentecostals, right?
While I admit discomfort with an over-zealous pursuit of the Spirit entering our lives, it is precisely because of the hazards involved, as testified in these (and many other possible) stories, that I am. Consider, as another example, Ezekiel, who was brought to eat a scroll and do any number of other odd things at the prodding of the Spirit in his life.
All this is to say that, in many ways, the Holy Spirit, is the Person who exemplifies the danger and terror of too close a relationship with God. We can chuckle over Samson killing thirty men, or Saul frothing at the mouth, or Ezekiel lying on his side for six months, then rolling over and lying on his other side for six months, but the truth is these stories should serve as a warning. God's presence in our lives doesn't always bring all those gooey feelings of marshmallowy goodness.
Sometimes, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit can bring a kind of Blessed Madness, make of us a Holy Terror. I will admit up front there are many things for which I pray. Being overcome by the Holy Spirit, the fullness of God present in such an intimate way as this, is not one of them.