10 February 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 11-12

At the end of last week, the Israelites leave Mount Sinai. This week, we’ll see them fall back into sin, even after everything God had done for them.

The Israelites head out to the Promised Land, but they begin to complain about their hardships while traveling. They are focused on their hardships instead of God’s blessings and provisions. God judges the Israelites because of their complaining. He sends down fire on the outskirts of the camp. The people ask Moses to pray. He does so, and God removes the fire.

Next, the rabble among the Israelites starts to complain. The rabble was people who went with the Israelites when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:38). They complain about wanting food other than the manna God is providing. The Israelites follow suit and start to complain. They forget everything that happened to them in Egypt!

God had been faithful and had provided everything – physically and spiritually – for the Israelites, but their complaining said His provisions weren’t enough. The people beg God for meat. Moses is troubled at their complaining. Because he loves the people, Moses goes to God.

Moses cries out to God over the burden the people’s complaints have become to him. God does not condemn or judge Moses because he took his complaints to God instead of complaining to other people. Moses tells God that the burden is too much for him. God knows that Moses needs help. God provides 70 elders to assist Moses with the burden of caring for the people.

Then God provides quail as meat for the people to eat. God provides quail three feet deep. The people begin eating the quail, but He immediately punishes them for their complaining by giving them a plague. God gave them over to their desires, but they soon begin to regret their complaining.

Even Moses’ own family is not exempt from the sin of complaining. Moses’ siblings, Miriam and Aaron, are leaders among the Israelites. But they complain about Moses’ relationship with God. This started by complaining about the ethnicity of Moses’ wife. Miriam and Aaron are jealous of Moses’ leadership. They want to be out front among the people.

Moses is silent in face of these complaints. How often am I silent when other people attack me?

God calls out Miriam and Aaron and defends Moses and his close, intimate relationship with God. Miriam appears to be the instigator in this situation. God punishes Miriam with leprosy.

All of this complaining isn’t over! This sin will reappear several times before our study is done.

Things to Think About

  • God hears our complaining.
  • Complaining about our hardships is like telling God is He not enough for us.  When we complain, it’s like we’re saying don’t like His sovereign hand in our lives.
  • Nothing comes into my life that hasn’t passed through the hands of God.
  • Complaining is contagious.
  • Do I take my worries and anxieties to God? Do I honestly share my heart with God?
  • Instead of complaining to other people, I should pray and take my complaints directly to God.