Small Note: I planned on covering Ch. 11-23 in this post if I could. But these five chapters are really crucial in understanding the children of Israel and the pain God must have felt, as well as justified anger.
I paraphrased dialogue so it would be a little easier to read. It’s eye-opening, these chapters, to how similar our complaining to God can be. Please, let this post speak to you, as it did for me.
Excitement appears to be parting the clouds in the eyes of the Israelites. They are drawing closer to the Promised Land, but wait…complaints are looming up ahead.
Last week, we discovered the Israelites finally got the command to move forward from Mt. Sinai. If you haven’t caught that post, you can check it out here – Numbers (4) Pt. 1 | Introduction – Ch. 10 Leaving Mt. Sinai
Complaining Angers God & Brings Fire
Ch. 11:01-03 begins with people complaining. This reached the ears of God, and He sent a fire down that consumed those who were on the outskirts of the camp. Moses prayed to God, and God stopped His fire.
Complaining From The People And Moses
Ch. 11:04-09 Discuss how the people come to Moses and complain they do not have meat. Bread that basically falls from Heaven, as talked about in Exodus (Pt. 2) is not enough for the people of God. No, when they were slaves in Egypt, they had it BETTER than what they have now. They had fish!
There was constant weeping and complaining throughout the whole camp. Through the families, and each at the door of his tent. God’s anger rouse again, and Moses also was becoming displeased.
God help us when He takes us out of hardship and we can’t see anything else!
I’m Not Their Mother
Ch. 11:10-15 Moses calls out to God. He is confused why God is afflicting him, and why he hasn’t found favor in God’s sight. Why must the burden of the people rest of his shoulders? He complains to God, “I’m not their mother. I didn’t give birth to them. No reason You should tell me to take care of them. How am I going to get meat for everyone? This burden is too much. If You are going to keep treating me like this, then kill me, but if I have found favor don’t let me see my wretchedness.”
It got worse for Moses.
God Gives Encouragement And Strength To Moses
But, unlike the people, God did not get mad at Moses.
Instead, Ch. 11:16-20 God tells Moses to pick out 70 elders. Upon each of these men, God will place the same Spirit He put upon Moses. These men will bear the burden with Moses so he will not have to bear it alone.
Moses is told to gather everyone and that God will give them meat. They will have meat enough for a whole month until they grow sick of it because of their hateful complaints to God!
Quail Brings Wrath And Plague
Ch. 11:21-23 Moses questions God, “There are over six thousand people, how are we going to get all of this meat?”
God answers him, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?” (Ch. 11:23)
Ch. 11:24-30 Moses follows what God told him, and God rests His Spirit upon those selected.
Ch. 11:31-35 God sends quail. But no sooner than the meat in their mouths God sends out His wrath in a plague.
God Rebukes And Punishes Moses’ Siblings
Ch. 12:01-09 Aaron and Miriam decide to speak against Moses because of the woman Moses married. They appear to be jealous that God only speaks through Moses, and not them. God hears these words, and He is angry at Aaron and Miriam.
So God calls out the three of them to the door of the tabernacle.
He tells Aaron and Miriam to step forward, and they do. God says if there is a prophet among them, God will make Himself known to that person in a vision, speak to him in a dream. Moses is unlike a prophet because God speaks to him directly, and speaks to him face to face. God speaks to Moses plainly.
For all of these reasons, why do Aaron and Miriam dare to not be afraid to speak against Moses?
Ch. 12:10-16 God’s anger rises against them and immediately Miriam becomes leprous. (Remember, being a leper is NOT a good thing! You get cut off from the people.)
13- Moses cries out to God, “Please, heal her!”
God answers to have Miriam be separated from the people for seven days in shame. During these days the people did not journey till Miriam was brought back in.
Spies Sent Into Canaan & Fear
Ch. 13 the men who selected as the head of the children of Israel, previously were decided on to be the spies sent into Canaan. Moses tells the men to report back if the people of the land are few or many, strong or weak, and if the land is good or bad.
They spied for forty days, taking some branches of the land that held clusters of grapes, pomegranates, and figs.
They reported the land is truly the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, showing the fruit. But the people are strong, the cities fortified, the land large, and decedents of Anak are there.
Caleb steps up after calming the people, eagerly he says, “Let’s get them!” (Ch.13:30)
But the rest of the spies are frightened, “You don’t understand, they’re too strong.” Continuing to tell the children of Israel, “They’re giants!”
Complaints Hide The Promise Of God
Ch. 14:01-10 Again the children of Israel wail, “If only we had died in Egypt, or even this wilderness!” They wail and weep all night long complaining against all leaders, and continuously doubting God’s plan for them.
Then, they get the bright idea, to select a different leader to guide them BACK TO EGYPT!!
Moses and Aaron fell to their faces before the children of Israel.
But two men, among the spies, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes. They told the complainers, “The land we spied on IS GOOD! If God delights in us, then HE WILL get us into the land! But we cannot rebel against God or fear the people of the land! Don’t you see? They have NO protection. They lost it the moment God told us the land is ours! Don’t fear them!” (Ch. 14:06-10)
Did children of God listen? No, they didn’t appreciate the truth. Instead, they wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua, but before they could, the glory of the Lord was shone in the tabernacle.
God Is Done With Rejection
Ch. 14:11-25 “How long will they reject Me, Moses? After all the signs and after everything I’ve given them?” God asks.
Again, God is ready to strike all of them who complains and make Moses a greater nation and mightier than them.
Moses, probably gently, answers, “Yeah, but Egypt will hear about it, and You brought the people out of Egypt. They will say You weren’t able to fulfill Your promise that You swore to the children of Israel. Let Your power be just. You are longsuffering and abundant in mercy. Pardon their sin.”
And God does. By Moses’ request, God forgives the children of Israel. But there was one condition because of the disobedience the children of Israel constantly gave God.
This generation would NOT enter the Promised Land.
“The ones I brought out of Egypt, those who saw all signs, they will not go to the Promise land. Now ten times they have TESTED Me, and have not listened. Caleb, My servant, however, has a different spirit than them, and he has followed Me fully. He and his decedents shall have the land he went into.”
Youth Will Not Be The Victims
Ch.14:26-38 God tells the people all who have complained before He will not go to the Promised Land. They will die in the wilderness. All who are age 20 and up, except for Caleb and Joshua.
But the little ones, those who the people complained would be the victims, these children God will bring in. They will know the Promise Land, the same land the current generation despised.
Punishment Of Rejection
According to the days spent spying, which was 40, each day will represent a year of guilt. Therefore, it will be forty years before going to the Promised Land, and they will know God’s rejection.
The spies who brought the evil report of the land to the congregation, a plague fell upon them, and the men died.
But Joshua and Caleb lived.
Ch. 14:39-45 The children of Israel thought they could ask for forgiveness, and claim the Promise Land so they decided to invade the top of the mountain. But instead of claiming what was not theirs no longer, the Amalekites and Canaanites drove them back.
Have you ever caught yourself complaining?
Has God shown you mercy in your time of distress?
What do you think of these chapters?
See you next week for Pt. 3 of Numbers! Hope you’ve taken something out of this 🙂