(My BSF Notes)
Last time we learned that Moses was told by God to take a census of the people listing every name one by one; then to count men 20 years old and over to serve in the army. We saw God’s placement of the tribes around the tabernacle placing the tabernacle in the center showing that God is to be the center of their lives. We saw purifying of the camps and each tribe giving offerings at the dedication of the tabernacle. They were told to celebrate Passover in accordance with all its regulations. The cloud of God continued to guide the Israelites as they journeyed toward the Promise Land.
Numbers 11 – The People Begin to Complain
The people began to complain about all their hardships, which angered God. “Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” – Num. 11:1. The people cried out to Moses for God to stop the fire. They continued to complain. They complained about the manna God had continued to provide for them. They wanted meat and fish and vegetables like they had in Egypt. They had forgotten about all the hard work and hard lives they had to do as slaves. The Lord became very angry and this troubled Moses. Moses asked God why had He brought this trouble on him and that he couldn’t carry the burdens of all these people by himself. If God was going to treat him this way, he said just put him to death. (Num. 11:11-15).
What do you do when times are hard?
Do you take your concerns to God?
How do your complaints affect others?
God came to Moses’ rescue. He told Moses to bring the leaders and officials of the people to the Tent of Meeting and God would come down and speak with him. He would put the same Spirit on them that was on Moses. Then Moses would not have to carry the burden of the people alone. (Num. 11:16-19).
Moses poured out his heart to God. We can be real with God. He knows it anyway. Take your problems and concerns to Him. God listened to Moses and gave him comfort and provided for him as He does for us, when we take our concerns to Him. We don’t have to face them alone. God wants to hear from us. He listens and will help us through anything. All we have to do is go to Him.
When has God provided comfort for you when you were overwhelmed?
Moses was to tell the people to consecrate themselves in preparation for tomorrow when they would eat meat. If they wanted meat, God would give them meat, but not for just one day, but for a month until they were sick of it. (Num. 11:20-22). Moses didn’t understand how they would have enough herds and flocks for meat for all the people for a month. God told him, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” – Num. 11:23.
So Moses did as the Lord commanded and brought the leaders of the people to the Tent of Meeting and the Spirit was put on them and they prophesied. There were 2 men, Eldad and Meadad, who did not come, but remained in the camp, but the Spirit still rested on them and they prophesied. Joshua told Moses about them and wanted him to stop them. Moses asked if he was jealous for his sake. Moses wished all the people had the Spirit on them.
God sent quail from out of the sea. It was all around the camp and 3 feet high. They ate and ate. God’s anger burned against them and so He struck them with a severe plague.
The people’s complaint about the manna was a complaint against God. We should always be thankful for our food. That is why we give thanks before a meal. Asking and thanking God should be our response to God’s abundance.
How do you express your thanks to God?
God knows when we complain and it angers Him. He expects us to learn from our experience. We who know God should be the least of the complainers. We can think about all that goes wrong, but it does no good. God is the only one who can do something about it. What is helpful is to focus on what is right. The Israelites got in the habit of complaining. They focused on what they didn’t have instead of what they had. Being negative or positive can be contagious. We need to be thankful for all our blessings given to us and make that our habit. We have a choice - complain or pray. Prayer provides exactly what we need.
God wants us to be thankful to Him for His provision.
Complaints focus on circumstances while prayer focuses on the sovereign power of God.
Numbers 12 – God Defends Moses
Miriam and Aaron started speaking against Moses because of Moses Cushite wife. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” – Num. 12:2. Miriam is mentioned first in this passage indicating she was probably the instigator. Moses was a very humble man than anyone on the earth. (Num. 12:3) He did not lash back or try to defend himself as we probably would have done. So God came to Moses’ rescue again. He said to bring Miriam and Aaron of out the Tent. God defended Moses saying, “When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house, with him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not to afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” – Num. 12:6-8. The Lord’s anger burned against them.
“Faithful in all my house” means in all of Israel. The Israelites were God’s family. Moses did everything God commanded according to God’s will. He was a faithful servant to God and to the people.
When the cloud of God lifted, Miriam was stuck with leprosy. Aaron pleaded with Moses to not hold their sin against them. So Moses asked God to heal her. God listened. Miriam’s punishment was confinement to outside the camp. She was to stay there for 7 days. I am sure when she reentered the camp, she was a humble woman. While she was outside the camp, the presence of God was removed from the people. It is a sin to speak against a true servant of God and His removal indicated the seriousness of the sin.
Do you criticize people God has placed in positions of authority?
How do you respond, when you are criticized for the work you do?
Moses was a lot like Jesus. Moses had a humble heart, forgave Miriam, and interceded for her before God. Jesus was humble and intercedes for us before God. We can learn to be more like Jesus through the examples of Moses.
God listens when we intercede on behalf of others.
Faith in God’s sovereign eliminates jealousy and inspires humility.
When we complain, it shows our lack of faith. Faith is being content in believing that Jesus is the Son of God, we must believe for ourselves, and then we must have a commitment to repent and follow Jesus. Surrendering to Him is the hardest to do. Complaints grieve God. When we complain, we always grieve someone. Will you ask God to change your complaining attitude?
In this study we learn that God is a just God. He is a merciful God by not burning up the whole Israelite camp. He shows us that He is the great Physician, when He healed Miriam. He is a provider providing all the Israelites needed. He listened to Moses’ prayer and helped him by giving him what he needed.
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