Numbers 11:1 "Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused."
There is a story about set in the fifth century about a man named Arenius who was determined to live a holy life. So, to accomplish his task, he abandoned the confines of Egyptian society to follow a Spartan, austere lifestyle in the desert. Yet whenever he visited the great city of Alexandria, he spent time wandering through its bazaars. Asked why, he explained that his heart rejoiced at the sight of all the things he didn't need.
Isn't this attitude that our world has today? I believe it must certainly is! The insatiable desires of the human want list is an incredible side of us to comprehend. Even in our last moments, we are likely to hang or desire something that will have no bearing on our health, life, or family.
This same attitude has been with human kind of thousands of years. Just take the example of the Israelites offered in the Old Testament book of Numbers 11. Here, shortly after they had escaped from Egypt into the wilderness, we read that the people of God were fed up with the manna that God offered them. At first they must have been awed by God's incredible provision, for they had nothing to eat while wandering around. But after a while they grew tired of the same food day in and day out. The familiar had lost its appeal. They were sick of collecting manna, storing it, and eating it. They wanted something more--they wanted to eat meat.
Our complaining and lack of contentment draws us farther away from God each day. Now, let us think for a minute if Christ had complained when faced with an agonizing death on the cross. What if He had told His disciples before His arrest, ""Now, wait a minute. This isn't fair! I haven't done anything wrong! Why should I give My life for a bunch of miserable sinners? They don't deserve it at all, because all they do is complain!""
No matter how tough life may seem, we must remember that it is ""Christ's love [that] compels us"" (2 Corinthians 5:14). Making a daily habit to thank God is the best counter to a grumbling heart (Psalm 68:15).So we have no right to grumble because our Savior died for us even in the face of grumbling men. And that is something that we can always be thankful for!
Father, we think it strange when others complain. Yet, how often are we the ones to complain? A bad parking spot. Traffic. Stoplights. Lord, we are so fickle. Lord, please help me to give thanks when I am tempted to complain today. Before I utter a complaint, Father, help me to thank you I have a voice. Jesus, may your love be so compelling to us today we'll be less likely to complain and criticize, envy and manipulate. In your name. Amen.
Numbers 12:3 "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth."
As humans, we believe that the plans and ways of God should be revealed to us on demand. This type of thinking comes out of world that is quickly telling God and others, “I want it now, and if I don’t get want I want right now, there is going to be trouble” This is a dangerous philosophy, because not only are we questioning Almighty God, but are thwarting the plans He has for our lives.
Remember, in Exodus 2, we see an early glimpse of this human tendency. Moses, who was raised in the courts of Egyptian society, including the day’s best libraries and teachers (Acts 7:22), saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. After looking around to see if anyone was coming or watching him, he killed the slave driver and buried him in the sand (2:11).
Moses was clearly upset at the mistreatment of God’s people, and he wanted to do something about it. However, his decision to take action against God’s timing (Notice he did not receive any command from God to kill the Egyptian at that time or at all) delayed the Lord’s plan for the deliverance of the Israelites by 40 years as Moses learned humility in the desert.
But the story of Moses doesn’t end there. In fact, notice what is recorded of him after God used him to free the Israelites from Egypt: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).
Say what? Yes, Moses, after humbly submitting to the Lord’s timing, will, and purpose for His life, was considered to be one of the most humble human beings to walk the earth. And it was only when he decided to force God’s timing and will for His life by committing pre-meditated murder that he failed to lead the people and sinned.
Here you see how God owns, stands up for, and pleads for Moses. God tells Aaron and Miriam to their faces that Moses is his favorite and that He had far greater respect for Moses than he had for them. In response to speaking against Moses, Miriam is given leprosy. Yet, Moses pleads for His sister and God heals her.
Being humble, submitting every decision big and small to the Lord, and waiting on His perfect timing, goes entirely against our natural inclinations. It even goes against the current culture of “I want it and I want it now.” It's an upside-down philosophy. However, it is biblical, and millions have practiced before us. Shouldn't we do the same?
Humbling yourself to God’s will is the first step toward spiritual maturity in Christ.
Father, remind me today that no one struts into the kingdom of God. We all come with humble confession. You are the only one worthy - so we bow in humble adoration today, Lord. Father, either we humble ourselves or you will humble us. One way or another, we will be humble. Thank you for that. It is good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Numbers 13:30 "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
As we age, there are typically two responses to the onslaught of death from those people experiencing this chapter of life.
The first type of person will view their last days as useless and unfruitful; that is, it is not worth their time to live another day.
The second person will view their last days as a chance to serve the LORD. When approaching their final hour, they will delight in hearing familiar Bible passages, prayers, and sermons. It is the spiritual eyes of these people that allow them to see through the problems of death and get a glimpse of the glory of Christ as it will be in heaven.
There were also two groups of people in Numbers 13 and 14 who had spiritual eyes for godly things. Today’s story tells us that twelve spies were sent out to explore the Promised Land. All 12 saw the same lush, green, fertile areas that the land contained and how valuable it would be for the nation’s agriculture.
But 10 of them were intimidated by the size and number of the hostile people who lived there. So, what did they report back to the people?
“The land is full of good food, land, and rivers.”
Yet, the 10 spies said it would be impossible and stupid to invade.
“But its people are strong—they are giants! They will squash us like little grasshoppers.”
(Grasshoppers were the smallest edible bug in the ancient Middle East.)
The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, however, insisted that with the LORD on their side they could take the territory. By faith they saw God beyond the obstacles.
“Wait a minute,” Caleb and Joshua said. “We can do it because the LORD can do it. He is on our side! Do you believe that? The people of the land will be like melting butter before us!”
“No way!” said the other ten. Instead, the people of Israel listened to the 10. “We will die if we try. They are giants! Our wives and children will die, too. Let’s go back to Egypt where we are guaranteed food!”
The key difference between the 10 and the 2 was where to put the word “but” in their report. The land is good, BUT the people are too big and strong. The people are big and strong, BUT the LORD is with us.
As Christians, what do we focus on? Do we ask the LORD to give us His eyes? Or, do we see only the size of our problems and miss the greatness of our God?
Only the LORD can give us 20/20 spiritual vision in this sin-filled world.
Father, because the Gospel is true, we can trust your plans and your hearts when we can't see your plans for us. Lord, we trust you because you were faithful yesterday and are all the time. You will never leave nor forsake us. Just as you were with the unpopular stance of Joshua and Caleb, so, too, you will be with us if we face something similar today. Help us to trust you no matter what. Father, you are worthy. In Jesus' name. Amen
Numbers 16:22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”
God came down in His glory upon the people of Israel. He also came in judgment. As with the incident of Israel turning to worship the golden calf (Exodus 32), God threatens the people with destruction. Again, as then, He makes the threat to Moses face-to-face. And, again, as then, Moses acts as a mediator, the savior of Israel.
So, what does Moses do? He prays. Moses’ prayer asks God to relent of His just anger. For what reason? God’s glory and God’s mercy.
You see, God’s mercy results in His glory for His own name. What a glorious God we have who forgives sin and has provided a means for sinners to be made righteous only through His Son, Jesus Christ!
Never forget both His mercy and His judgment result in His glory and His praise. Our God is not a “tame” God like you pet dog or cat. He is not to be trifled or messed with. God’s mercy and God’s judgment was shown in response to Moses’ prayer.
What about the children of those that didn’t trust God and rebelled? Their children, whom the frightened Israelites were certain would be destroyed by the “giant” Canaanites, would enter the land. Joshua and Caleb, who had a different spirit and gave a God-trusting report, would enter the land, too.
The rest of the people aged 20 years and above would wander in the wilderness for 40 years—one year for each day the spies were in the land. They would die in the desert.
God is serious about His judgment. Some have estimated that around 200 people on average would have died every day of those 40 years’ wandering. This is a serious reminder of God’s just judgment.
Moses and Aaron were gap-fillers for the Israelites. The Bible mentions 48 times where these two men of faith intently sought God on the behalf of the people. So when Korah and his Levite friends falsely accused Moses and Aaron of taking honor for themselves and treating the people unfairly, they immediately started talking to God. The brothers knew that they were there to do God’s will and to lead His people into the Promised Land.
God then judged between the two sides and showed favor to Moses and Aaron. Thus, Korah’s insolent rebellion against Moses ended up badly for himself and his family (Numbers 16:1-2). God showed that He protects His own, especially when they are seeking His face in prayer about decisions for others (Numbers 16:22).
Are you standing in the gap in prayer for your fellow Christians and unsaved friends? Moses and Aaron were great gap-fillers because they were willing to fall on their faces for the sake of the people around them.
As gap-fillers, our job is to lead souls back to God through humble pleas and prayer of the LORD's protection, will, power, and conviction in their lives (Philippians 4:4-6).
Are you willing to pray for those around you like this?
Father, listen to me and don't ignore my plea today. I desire to be a gap-filler in prayer for my family, church, country, and area. Lord, help me to be faithful in prayers when others are not. Forgive me when I say I will pray for someone and I really never do. Father, I need no other argument; I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me! He is our rock and our strong tower. Thank you, Jesus. In your name I pray. Amen.
Numbers 20:12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
The great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was legendary for his fits of rage. The librarian of one of Toscanini's orchestras was particularly angry by the maestro's habit of throwing valuable musical scores at the musicians when upset.
Watching closely, the librarian observed that Toscanini's first act when enraged was to take his baton in both hands and try to break it. If the baton snapped, Toscanini usually calmed down and rehearsal continued. If the baton did not break, he began hurling scores of music.
The librarian's solution? He made sure the conductor had a generous supply of flimsy batons on hand for rehearsal.
Toscanini wasn't the first person to let his anger get the best of him. In fact, I would imagine that we have all lost our temper at one time or another.
What about the Bible's main characters? Did they ever lose their temper? Yes, they did. Let's take a look at one of these men, Moses, and examine what irked him into blowing his top.
First, Moses became extremely frustrated with his murmuring followers (Numbers 20:10). So, instead of speaking to the rock to get water as the LORD had instructed him, he angrily struck it twice (20:11). He did get water from the rock, but there was a problem—Moses had disobeyed God. His punishment was that God told him he could not enter the Promised Land (20:12). The book of Joshua records the initial settlement of the nation's new land without the great Moses who had brought them so far.
Meekness is power under control. Anger is passion out of control. Moses, the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3), became angry and sinned. Although God provided abundant water to meet the need of the people, Moses’ disobedience was judged severely. So severely that Moses and Aaron were exiled from the Promised Land.
This is a story of misplaced anger. I say misplaced anger because there is such a thing as righteous anger and the world needs that. Jesus showed righteous anger when He drove the moneychangers out of the temple, and men and women today can show righteous anger when confronted with sexual trafficking, slavery, or many of the other evils that abound in our sad and fallen world. But anger is misplaced when it is a response to some real or perceived hurt to our own pride or position.
How, then, can God lengthen your anger fuse? It is only through the indwelling power and work of the Holy Spirit. You see, as we surrender our anger to God, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our lives (Galatians 5). Remember, it is not by our might or power that we will get the victory over the short fuse of anger, but by God's Holy Spirit (Philippians 4:13)!
Proverbs 16:32: "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."
Father, being cynical is too easy. Help us cultivate hearts of redemptive anger, engaged presence, and hope that works for justice. Father, the bigger our gospel the slower our anger. Thank you for your kindness to us. We know that you are using this for your glory. Help me stop my anger. Help me to trust in your kindness and patience for your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Numbers 21:9 "So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."
Why are Christians so hung up on crosses? Does a cross work magic? Is it ok to have a cross around your neck? How should I look at crosses?
The same problem existed in the day of the children of Israel when they wandered in the wilderness. They got confused and began worshipping their past—their time in Egypt—so much that they began to complain again. It seems they were happy to get out Egypt when Pharaoh released them and stay in the wilderness when God promised them the land of milk and honey
So God sent snakes to punish them for their grumbling. Funny enough, this area was well-known for its terrible snakes. God Himself, not “mother nature,” sent these to the people and they bit them.
The snakes, while very much real, symbolize for us the power and pain of sin. When they bit the people, it is a reminder that all of mankind is “snake bit” and in need of God’s grace, for all have sinned and fall sort of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Sin and its consequences bring pain and heartache and disorientation that should lead us to a need for change.
The people then cry out for Moses (once again!) to save them. They admit they have spoken against the LORD and Moses’ God-given authority.
What’s God’s cure for the people? It does not say the LORD explained to Moses why or exactly how He was going to make it work. No, simply the LORD said trust His Word. Moses made a serpent of brass in the likeness of the poisonous snakes and put it on a pole to be raised it up for everyone to see, believe and be saved. God kept His promise.
This may seem like an odd story from 3,000 years ago. But, in John, that thought of Jesus being “lifted up” is carried right through the Gospel and refers to the cross as the means of Jesus’ execution.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, just as the people had to look at that brass serpent, simply trust on God’s Word of promise that, if you will look at the serpent you will be saved, so also we must look to Christ and Him crucified. The copper snake was a picture of God’s just judgment on Israel for their sin. But the cross of Christ is, likewise, a picture of God’s just judgment on sin.
Where is the great credit of simple believing the truth, and humbly trusting Christ to save you? Faith glorifies God, and so our LORD has chosen it as the means of our salvation.
Father, every false gospel makes the promise of snake-oil and, in time, delivers the death of snake venom. Keep us far from false teachers and false gospels. Help us to delight in and be focused on Christ and Christ alone. He is our stay and salvation. God you sent the snakes to kill, and you gave the snake-pole to save. So it is often: You save us from our own deserved sin. Yet, in Christ it is all fulfilled. Praise you for that. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Galatians 5:1" It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
As the United States celebrates its freedom as a country today, I wanted to take some time today to thank God for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. We are blessed and thank God.
Yet, above all this political freedom, we should be most thankful for our spiritual freedom. I know Christians who seem to esteem the Constitution more than the Scriptures, the Declaration of Independence more than freedom in Christ. Remember, the gospel doesn't raise your self-esteem. It exponentially raises your Christ-esteem. That's where the freedom is.
If it was for freedom that Christ set us free (Gal 5:1), our churches should be environments of beautiful freedom. I am thankful that we have much freedom in Christ, but never forget, the mature Christian sacrifices freedom for the sake of the gospel. The deepest and unchanging message of the Bible is promise, provision, freedom, assurance in Christ (Galatians 3:17).
Do you celebrate your country’s freedom more than what you have in Christ?
Father, we thank you for the freedoms we have in countries around the world where we can worship freely, live freely, and express our voices freely. We know that it is a blessings among blessings. Yet, at the same time, we know that the freedom given to us in Christ by grace and faith alone trumps all of that freedom. Even if we were in the worst country known to man, the freedom we have in you and you alone is our salvation. Father, you are so good to us. Thank you for Jesus. May all the people of this great land come to know him. In Jesus' name. Amen.