God hears us when we complain. His response, however, may differ depending on the motives behind the complaint. If it’s true suffering, God is comforting and healing. If the motives are greed, gluttony, envy and lust of the flesh, vanity, etc., well, you deserve what you get. See, God hears ALL of our complaints.
The other major point here in the next 2 chapters of Numbers, as we follow the Jews in the desert, is the Holy Spirit. He is the helper, and a direct connection to God. Growing up Catholic, I always thought of the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity up in Heaven, which was unreachable to us mere humans. How wrong I was! These next chapters show that God hears us and God provides — if we humble ourselves. Let’s dig in….
Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. 2 Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped. 3 After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the Lord had burned among them there.
4 Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
7 The manna looked like small coriander seeds, and it was pale yellow like gum resin. 8 The people would go out and gather it from the ground. They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil. 9 The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.
10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? 13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
What’s Going On Here?
- Nobody likes whiners. Why did God respond so harshly? First, God saved the people from slavery and captivity in Egypt and what do they do? Complain. Where’s the gratitude? Life isn’t easy. No one ever said it would be! One has to be grateful and content with what they have. That, however, requires humility and living with an attitude of gratitude.
- Next, there were some tagalongs from Egypt who weren’t Jews and weren’t committed to God. They got bored with eating manna every day. Hey, it was free food from heaven! Be grateful! No, they wanted meat.
- All this whining and complaining gets to Moses. He’s the leader. He’s responsible for all these people — their wellbeing, as well as escorting them to the Promised Land. He’s had it and He cries out to God.
Moses Chooses Seventy Leaders
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. 17 I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.
18 “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. 19 And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 20 You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”
21 But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ 22 Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?”
23 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!”
24 So Moses went out and reported the Lord’s words to the people. He gathered the seventy elders and stationed them around the Tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this never happened again.
26 Two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed behind in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they had not gone out to the Tabernacle. Yet the Spirit rested upon them as well, so they prophesied there in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”
28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ assistant since his youth, protested, “Moses, my master, make them stop!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp with the elders of Israel.
The Lord Sends Quail
31 Now the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail flying about three feet above the ground. 32 So the people went out and caught quail all that day and throughout the night and all the next day, too. No one gathered less than fifty bushels! They spread the quail all around the camp to dry. 33 But while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the Israelites traveled to Hazeroth, where they stayed for some time.Numbers 11 NLT
Bad Fire and Good Fire
Fire and plagues. We’ve seen that in today’s world. Is that God’s wrath on people who complain and don’t commit their lives to Him? People who refuse to follow God and choose to follow the evil, Satanic culture? That’s something to think about.
When I gave my life to Jesus, I received the gift eternal life and the Holy Spirit in my heart. That’s a good fire in your heart — on fire for Jesus! My heart burns to be closer to God, to read His Word every day, to praise Him, to thank Him.
What’s burning inside of you?
Is it anger because things aren’t turning out as you planned? Is it fear of the unknown or of illness? Are you overburdened with life’s worries? Give it to God like Moses did! Yes, it takes a little humbling. It takes realizing that you can’t do it all yourself!
Let’s go on…
Numbers 12 – More Complaints
While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. 2 They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. 3 (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)
4 So immediately the Lord called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So the three of them went to the Tabernacle. 5 Then the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” he called, and they stepped forward. 6 And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say:
“If there were prophets among you,
I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions.
I would speak to them in dreams.
7 But not with my servant Moses.
Of all my house, he is the one I trust.
8 I speak to him face to face,
clearly, and not in riddles!
He sees the Lord as he is.
So why were you not afraid
to criticize my servant Moses?”
9 The Lord was very angry with them, and he departed. 10 As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, 11 he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Don’t let her be like a stillborn baby, already decayed at birth.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “O God, I beg you, please heal her!”
14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had done nothing more than spit in her face, wouldn’t she be defiled for seven days? So keep her outside the camp for seven days, and after that she may be accepted back.”
15 So Miriam was kept outside the camp for seven days, and the people waited until she was brought back before they traveled again. 16 Then they left Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.Numbers 12 NLT
Wait a minute! Wasn’t Moses married to a Midianite woman, the daughter of Ruel? Yes, but apparently she died and Moses married a Cushite woman — from Ethiopia, yes, an African.
The problem wasn’t racism, it was envy. They were envious that God only spoke through Moses. Of course, God hears them — He hears everything — and tells them to come to the tabernacle. Both Miriam and Aaron were leaders. Aaron was the high priest and Miriam was a worship leader. But, they were both envious of the relationship that Moses had with God.
God then speaks to all of them. Envy is a root sin that rots away at a person’s soul. Envy brought Cain to kill Able. Why do you think God made it a commandment? (Do not covet…) Envy doesn’t trust nor does it follow. It leads to evil. James wrote…
16 For wherever there is jealousy (envy, coveting) and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.James 3:16 NLT
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;Proverbs 14:30 NLT
jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
God struck Miriam with leprosy — that was a death sentence in those days. Aaron begs Moses, who begs God, who heals her. But she’s quarantined for 7 days. The camp can’t move without her, so they wait. It was a lesson for everyone. Gee, even back then they knew to quarantine the sick person not the healthy!
- Moses was the humble and meek leader of God’s people. Jesus is the ultimate leader of all people. He’s meek and lowly.
- Miriam and Aaron are leaders who envied Moses. Jesus’ brothers, as well as the leading Jewish priests, envied Jesus. They were jealous of His popularity and His ability to heal people. That anger led to the priests wanting to kill Jesus.
- Jesus healed Gentiles and that angered the priests. Jesus’ bride — the church of born-again believers is multi-racial.
- The Jews had to wait for 7 days for Miriam to be healed. The non-believing Jews — who will be left behind at the Rapture — will have to endure through 7 years of the Great Tribulation. Nevertheless, afterwards, all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11).
How’s Your Relationship with Jesus?
Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross and die so we could have religion! No! He died so that He could have a relationship with YOU! Yes, YOU!
Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. Isn’t it about time you let Him in?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)