Grumblings against God

Scripture Passage: 
Numbers 11:1-35

INTRODUCTION: Consider again the progression of the themes of the five books of Moses. Genesis deals with creation; Exodus with redemption; Leviticus with holiness; Numbers with wilderness wanderings; Deuteronomy with obedience to and the love of God. The order is important. Exodus pictures salvation and Leviticus pictures sanctification. What is the purpose of Numbers? It portrays the importance that various trials have in the growth of the believer. No Christian matures until he or she goes through serious trials and remains faithful to the Lord (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Unfortunately, Numbers is mostly an illustration of what to avoid doing.

    1. The Turning Point of God’s People
      1. God’s people have demonstrated obedience in the first ten chapters of the Book of Numbers.
      2. Chapter eleven is the complete opposite and demonstrates the heart of all of God’s people, both then and now.
    2. Division
      1. The turning point at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-3)
      2. The lusting of the people (Numbers 11:4-9)
      3. The complaint of Moses (Numbers 11:10-15)
      4. God responds to complaints of His people (Numbers 11:16-23).
      5. God’s Spirit rests on men (Numbers 11:24-30).
      6. God demonstrates His power to provide (Numbers 11:31-35).
  2. THE TURNING POINT AT TABERAH (Numbers 11:1-3)
    1. The Work of Complaining (Numbers 11:1)
      1. Complaining unveils the heart.
        1. The offended heart complains (John 6:56-61).
        2. The lustful heart complains (Jude 1:16).
        3. The words of murmuring identify an ungrateful heart (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).
      2. Complaining hinders education (Isaiah 29:24).
        1. God sends us through trials so that we may learn.
        2. Murmuring and complaining negates the lesson.
      3. Complaining troubles the soul (Psalm 77:3).
        1. Complaining adds to the burden of the soul.
        2. Christ wants us to cast our burdens on Him.
      4. Complaining breeds lies.
        1. The people said their soul was dried away (Numbers 11:6).
        2. The people said they had nothing to eat (Numbers 11:6).
        3. The Israelites said that Moses killed the people of the Lord (Numbers 16:41).
        4. The Israelites said that God hated them (Deuteronomy 1:27).
      5. Complaining is contagious.
        1. In Numbers  11:4, the mixt (mixed) multitude begins the trouble.
        2. In Numbers 11:4, the children of Israel begin weeping.
        3. By Numbers 11:11, Moses joins the group of complainers.
      6. Complaining displeases the Lord (Numbers 11:1).
        1. God plans the events in our life.
        2. Complaining is a direct attack on Him.
    2. The Complaining of the People (Numbers 11:1)
      1. This is the first occurrence of the word “complained” or any form of the word “complain” in the scriptures.
      2. It appears this incident is different from the incident found in Numbers 11: 4-33.
        1. In this incident the Lord responds with fire, but in the next incident He responds with a plague.
        2. The name of this place is called Taberah whereas the name of the place where the next incident occurs is called Kibroth-hattaavah.
      3. If this is the case, we have no idea why the people were complaining.
    3. The Displeasure of the Lord (Numbers 11:1)
      1. The complaining of the people displeased the Lord.
      2. The Lord heard it.
      3. His anger was kindled.
      4. The fire of the Lord burnt among them and consumed them that were in the uttermost part of the camp.
    4. The Pleading of Moses (Numbers 11:2)
      1. The people cried unto Moses.
      2. Moses prayed unto the Lord.
      3. The fire was quenched.
    5. The Naming of the Place (Numbers 11:3)
      1. The place was named Taberah, meaning burning.
      2. It was common to name places of disobedience (Exodus 17:7; Numbers 11:34; Deuteronomy 9:22).
      3. We should mark and remember the places where we failed the Lord so that we will not fall into the same errors again.
  3. THE LUSTING OF THE PEOPLE (Numbers 11:4-9)
    1. The Failure of the People of God (Numbers 11:4)
      1. Begins with the mixt (mixed) multitude
        1. Egyptians or Egyptian-Israelite mixed people who followed Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38)
        2. A picture of false followers of God who still long for the things of the world (2 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 John 2:19)
      2. They “fell a lusting” (James 1:13-16).
      3. The children of Israel are affected.
      4. They cry for flesh to eat (Psalm 78:18).
    2. Marred Memories of God’s People (Numbers 11:5; Psalm 106:13-14; Ecclesiastes 7:10)
      1. They remembered the fancy foods (6 items).
      2. They forgot the heavy burdens (Exodus 1:11-14).
      3. They forgot their cry for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25).
      4. They forgot deliverance from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:29-31).
    3. The Manna from God (Numbers 11:6-9)
      1. What was it?
        1. It was as coriander seed (Numbers 11:7; Exodus 16:31).
        2. The color as the color of bdellium (Numbers 11:7)
        3. It was a small round thing (Exodus 16:14).
        4. The taste as the taste of fresh oil or as wafers made with honey (Numbers 11:8; Exodus 16:31)
      2. How to prepare it (Numbers 11:8)
        1. Ground it in mills
        2. Beat it in a mortar
        3. Baked it in pans
        4. Made cakes of it
      3. Its uniqueness
        1. A layer of dew was provided for it to rest upon (Numbers 11:9).
        2. It is called “angel’s food” (Psalm 78:25).
        3. It is called the “corn of heaven” (Psalm 78:24).
        4. Manna ceased when they could eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan (Joshua 5:12).
  4. THE COMPLAINT OF MOSES (Numbers 11:10-15)
    1. He Complains of the Burden of the People (Numbers 11:11-12).
    2. He Complains of the Burden of Their Provision (Numbers 11:13).
      1. Where am I going to get this flesh to feed them?
      2. They are weeping unto me.
    3. He Complains of the Pressures of His Burden (Numbers 11:14).
      1. I am not able to bear this people alone.
      2. It is too heavy.
    4. He Complains of the Burden of His Own Wretchedness (Numbers 11:15).
      1. Kill me, if I have found favor in thy sight.
      2. He would rather die than face the troubles he has with the people of God.
    5. Moses is the Key to the Coming Judgment.
      1. The people are at fault here just as they were in Numbers 11:1-3.
      2. Moses interceded for the people in Numbers 11:1-3 and the judgment was minimal.
      3. Moses joins in the complaining here and the people were smote with a “very great plague.”
    1. Seventy Elders for Moses (Numbers 11:16-17)
      1. Moses to choose them from the elders of the people (Numbers 11:16)
      2. God to put His spirit upon them (Numbers 11:17)
      3. The elders to help Moses bear the burden of the people (Numbers 11:17)
    2. Flesh to Eat for the People (Numbers 11:18-20)
      1. God to give them flesh for a month (Numbers 11:18-20)
      2. Until it be loathsome to them (Numbers 11:20)
    3. Moses Doubts the Sufficiency of the Lord (Numbers 11:21-23).
      1. Moses questions the availability of the flesh (Numbers 11:21-22).
        1. The people are too many (Numbers 11:21).
        2. The herds are insufficient (Numbers 11:22).
        3. Moses thinks he has to come up with the solution and does not trust in the provision of God.
  6. GOD’S SPIRIT RESTS ON MEN (Numbers 11:24-30)
    1. The Elders Are Gathered (Numbers 11:24).
    2. God Empowers the Elders (Numbers 11:25).
      1. The cloud comes down.
      2. God’s spirit comes upon them.
      3. The elders prophesy.
    3. Two Remained in the Camp (Numbers 11:26-30; Luke 9:49-50; Philippians 1:14-18).
      1. Eldad and Medad prophesy.
      2. Joshua asks Moses to forbid them.
      3. Moses calms Joshua.
    1. The Wind Brings Quails from the Sea (Numbers 11:31).
      1. They fell by the camp.
      2. A day’s journey on each side
      3. Two cubits (3 ft.) high upon the face of the earth
    2. The People Gather Them (Numbers 11:32).
      1. All that day, all that night and all the next day
      2. He that gathered least gathered ten homers.
      3. They spread them abroad for themselves round about the camp.
    3. The Judgment of God Falls (Numbers 11:33-34).
      1. While it was between their teeth
      2. Ere it was chewed
      3. God’s wrath was kindled against them.
      4. The Lord smote them with a plague (Psalm 78:24-32; Psalm 106:13-15).
      5. They named the place Kibroth-hattaavah meaning the graves of lust.
    4. The People Journey to Hazeroth (Numbers 11:35).

CONCLUSION: This lesson is a sum of the Christian life. We find ourselves striving to obey the words of God, and in so doing we find a wealth of blessings from Him. Yet our old nature manifests itself and the blessings of God turn into His chastisement. Oh that we could serve Him in complete obedience at all times.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.