I had planned to post this last night and apologize that life delayed me. Actually that life more closely resembled sleep, I was exhausted. Sleep is my balm in Gilead and something I get far too little of. But here it is a day late, I hope it inspires you brothers and sisters to join in the mission of the seventy!
The Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come …. Said he unto them …. heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you Luke 1-2, 9
Picture if you can a farmer who looks out at his fields and realizes that they are ready, it is time, but it’s just him all by his lonesome. How’s he going to harvest those fields? It was such a dilemma that filled Jesus’ heart as He looked out on His harvest field. Seeds had been sown; sun and rain had come; by the songs of psalmists and the message of prophets, by national guidance and national disaster, God had been bringing Israel to its autumn. And now the harvest was ready to be cut, but the harvesters—where were they? How desperately Jesus felt the need of helpers, he knew he couldn’t be as effective alone! He clearly saw that the world was to be won through the enthusiasm and the effort of humble men! It is one glory of our joyful Gospel that if we wish to help, there is a place for us. We will never be left out of the game by our Master, never.
When the work of Jesus in Galilee was over, and a larger field was calling for larger service, Jesus chose seventy, as before He had chosen twelve. Who these seventy were I do not know, there is no list of their names in the Gospels. But one thing we are sure of, for we have it from the lips of Christ Himself, their seventy names were all written in heaven.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20.
A beloved poet once requested his friend write upon his gravestone, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” But the least of these seventy, when he passed away, would bid men write, “Here lies one whose name is writ in heaven.” What a debt we owe to them, these unnamed disciples! How we are helped by those whose names we never heard of! If trials are easier and life pleasanter, we owe it largely to those faithful souls who pray, work, and die, unknown. Do you long to be one of the twelve, the latest celebrity in a sense, you’re name burning up the social media feeds? I pray not, its is far better to be one of the unnamed seventy, who happily, quietly did their work, whose names are only known to God. Better: perhaps safer too. There was a Judas in the twelve, yet thankfully, we never read of a betrayer among the seventy.
I wonder why Jesus chose that number seventy, rather than say 25 or 100? Fine souls have proposed that Jesus was thinking of the twelve wells and seventy palms of Elim that had refreshed the children of Israel long ago.
And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters. Exodus 15:27
But, if that be a fancy, this, then, at least is fact. It was seventy elders who went up with Moses to the mount and saw the glory of the God of Israel.
And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: Exo 24:1-9
Seventy workers are to go out for Jesus, and see a glory far greater than that of Sinai. It was seventy elders who were afterwards chosen to strengthen Moses in his stupendous task.
And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. Numbers 11:24-25
Now seventy are, chosen, set apart by Jesus to aid Him in His glorious service. Do you see how Jesus gathered up the past? How He was guided by it in making His great choices for the task at hand?
So the seventy were chosen; and with an exquisite kindness were sent out two and two. They were to heal the sick, as well as to be the heralds of God’s kingdom. If men received them, let them rejoice. If cities rejected them, let them remember Jesus, for “he that despiseth you despiseth me.” He was the Lamb of God, and they were sent forth as lambs among the wolves. They were to try to win men by trusting them. For when Jesus bade them leave their wallet and their purse behind, He was not only teaching confidence in God; He was teaching them to look for the best in man. That was one secret of the seventy’s success. They took it for granted they would be hospitably treated, and men responded to that trustfulness. They honored that confidence placed in them; till the hearts of the seventy overflowed with praise, and they came back to Jesus full of joy.
We should note also, that in their directions Jesus guarded against all waste of time. There is a note of urgency we must not miss. The value of precious hours is realized. Take, for instance, “Salute no man by the way.” Did Jesus mean that the worker should be a grump, hateful? Never, that is no way to accomplish their goals. But in the East greetings are tedious, full of flattery, thus prone to lead idle gossip, that men who are on a mission of life and death must run the risk of seeming unsociable sometimes. When Elisha bade his servant carry his staff and lay it on the dead child of the Shunamite, do you remember how he ed him saying, “If thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again” ? The call was so urgent, there was no time for social graces, and there is a thousandfold greater urgency here. Or why, again, did Jesus say, “Go not from house to house“? Did not the disciples break bread from house to house?
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Acts 2:46
Did not Paul at Ephesus teach from house to house?
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Acts 20:20
But the warning Jesus gave the seventy was this. It was to avoid accepting that endless hospitality that to this day is the custom in an Eastern village. It was against frittering all their priceless hours away in the little invitations they would get. They must remember how the days were passing quickly by. They must never lose sight of their glorious work. The time is short, and all must give way to this—the preaching of the Kingdom and healing the sick.
The seventy did their work and then returned home again, home to their Lord whom they so willingly served. When Jesus heard their story and saw their joy, there came a wonderful gladness on His heart, This Man of Sorrows was often very joyful, but never more so than in His friends’ success. Now is not that a Comrade for us all, a Companion who will make life rich? We are so quick to envy one another, allowing jealousy to grip us at a moments passing. We cannot hear about a brother’s triumphs without feeling it’s ugly sting in our hearts. Jesus exults when His nameless children prosper. He is jubilant, in heaven,as well, when we succeed today. It is worthwhile to master self; it is worthwhile to be a Christian, in our own nameless way, when we have a Friend like that to please.
As always brothers and sisters in Christ may God bless and keep you