Scripture Read: Numbers 11 - 12
Title: Israel Complains Against God & Moses
(H) Highlight verse: "And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp." Num. 11:1
(E) Explain: According to the Jewish Study Bible, "The fourth book of the Torah, Numbers, recounts memorable events of the Israelite wanderings from Sinai, God's mountain, to the plains of Moab, just opposite the promised land. Thus Numbers continues the story begun in Exodus and continued in Leviticus of the escape from Egyptian servitude, the desert journey to Mount Sinai, the revelations at Sinai and giving the law, and the building of the Tabernacle with instructions on its operation.
"Numbers is a complex collection of texts containing an assortment of interwoven literary genres:historical narratives, legal texts, ritual prescriptions, and poetic folk traditions."
Today's text begins the section of Numbers that recounts the Israelites leaving Sinai and beginning the time of wandering in the wilderness and ending up in Moab.
As the Israelites are traveling in the wilderness they start to complain, once again, about their "misfortunes." They complained as they remembered what life was like in Egypt. They had all the food they desired, they had stability (even though they were enslaved) and they were getting tired of eating manna. They wanted meat, they wanted fish, they wanted cucumbers, onions, garlic, melons and leeks.
As Moses hears the people complain he has a complaining session with God. He accuses God of not taking care of the people. He accuses God of not giving him the help he desperately needed to accomplish the task set before him. He complained about the burden that he carried on his shoulders.
God responded and told him to appoint 70 elders who would receive a portion of the Spirit that was upon Moses. Then he addressed the complaints of the people. He promised to give them meat. However, he was going to bring so much meat that it will be coming out of the nostrils by the end of the month. In other words he was going to provide so much meat that they will be sick of meat at the end of the month. Then as punishment for their complaining God sent a severe plague and many people perished.
(A) Application: The only thing I can think of after reading today's passage is WOW! On one hand I see why God was so angry with the Israelites, but on the other hand I feel like his response was a bit harsh. But then again who am I to question God's authority and judgment.
I do think, though there is an application for all of us in this reading. I think of myself in this situation where I tend to complain against God a lot. I complain because I don't have certain things I desire... (i.e. more money, more stability, a bigger house, a car that won't break down and etc. ). In my complaining I often overlook all that I have and focus on all that I don't have. I am glad God is patient with me, because I do complain often and He still lovingly provides for my every need and gives me all that I need.
(R) Respond: I am reminded with this passage to be mindful of all I have. I need to count my blessings, because they are numerous. I need to focus on what God has provided for me, and yes I may get tired of getting the same thing over and over again, but I need to continually be reminded that God has lovingly given me what I NEED and I need to be content with that.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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