Numbers 11 


In Numbers 11 the children of Israel begin to complain again.


Numbers 11:1 Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.  2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched.  3 So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the LORD had burned among them.


Obviously God does not like it when people complain about the blessing they have received through him. What a scary and confusing site this must have been  as God consumed some these complainers with fire. Based on these verse its seems that this fire continued burning people and the children of Israel did the only thing they could think of to try and escape God consuming fire  they cried out to Moses. Then Moses prayed to Lord  and he stopped the consuming fire. Now you would think that would be that defining moment when the children of Israel  would have the light bulb go off in their head they should be content and praise God for what they had instead of complaining more. But, apparently this concept did not make it through their thick head.


Numbers 11: 4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat?  5 "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;  6 "but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"  7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium.  8 The people went about and gathered it, ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.  9 And when the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.  


Here we have the children of Israel complaining again about what they did not have. I believe everyone of us can relate and understand this particular complaint. Think about it when the children of Israel were in Egypt even though they were treated horribly they could take comfort in all the food they had. They start remembering back how they used to sink their teeth into a juicy piece of meat or some fresh fish and oh the vegetables and fresh fruits. I am sure their mouths just watered from thinking about all those good foods. But, now all they had day after day was the manna with no variety in their diet. Anyone who has ever went on a diet can understand the temptation to want some of those foods that you used to eat but are not suppose to eat on your diet. While your on the diet you fantasize how good it would be to eat a bag of chip or big bowl full of your favorite ice cream. Now if you really want to go to the extreme and gain a deeper understanding of why the children of Israel were so consumed with the thought of going back to Egypt just for the food you try going just 5 days eating the same food and only having water to drink day after day. I think you quickly begin to crave all the wonderful foods we have available for us today. While it is the case that we can see why they may have really been missing those foods from Egypt they should not have let these cravings come before be satisfied with what God was providing them.  As Christians today we need to learn to be content with what we have and not with what we don’t have.


Hebrews 13: 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"


Here we are commanded to be content to be satisfied with what we have. Paul understood this concept as he gave up fame and fortune to be a proclaimer of Gods Word.


1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.


When you get right down to all a person really needs  is food and clothing. We don’t have to have all the luxury items that we have that we take for granted everyday. We have to be very careful in the world we live in because we can easily have the same attitude as the children and begin to complain about our lives because we don’t have this possession or that possession. We need to remind ourselves everyday  that our treasure is in heaven not on this  earth and that all the wonderful gadgets that we could own will only bring temporary pleasure but a life of service and contentment to God brings about an eternal reward of living in heaven forever. Paul sums it up best in,


Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Now lets continue on back  Numbers 11


Numbers 11:10 Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased.  11 So Moses said to the LORD, "Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?  12 "Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,' to the land which You swore to their fathers?  13 "Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, 'Give us meat, that we may eat.'  14 "I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.  15 "If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now -- if I have found favor in Your sight -- and do not let me see my wretchedness!"


Moses was getting to the end of his rope. All he could see and hear was the Children of Israel weeping and complaining about their situation and he couldn’t handle it any longer. Moses starts pouring out his frustration to God and asking him several questions of why he has put this burden on him. Now maybe I shouldn’t find this humorous but I thought verse 12 was kind of funny because Moses is basically saying Lord I didn’t conceive these people they are not my children so why should I have put with all their belly aching. Then Moses makes it clear I can handle all these people alone and I have to go on like this please just kill me now. What can we learn from this? I believe it teaches us that when complain and belly ach about things that we shouldn’t be that it can a will make others miserable.


Just imagine if you will that you a  part of congregation that all they did was complain about one thing  or another. Now put yourself in the shoes of a elder. Think about how miserable and stressful it would make you if you kept on hearing complaint after compliant from the people. You might start feeling like Moses to saying take me now Lord. So let us  never forget that continual complaining not only effects you in negative way but also effects those around in negative way.


Now God listens to Moses request and provides a solution.


Numbers 11:16 So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.  17 "Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.


When I thought about this section of scripture I immediately thought about what Paul wrote to Corinthians in.


1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.


Moses had reached his limit and God provided away for Moses not be tempted beyond what he could handle. He was going to take the spirit of God that was on Moses and give it to 70 other elders as well so they could help bear the burden for Moses. This same concept  is true when it comes to the church today. No one person should be responsible for everything that gets done in the church. No, instead everyone should do their part to help out and bear the burden of the work that needs to be done. If you keep putting everything on just a few workers before long they will become burned out and they will stop will stop working themselves.


Numbers 11:18 "Then you shall say to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat.  19 'You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days,  20 'but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?" ' "


Even though the Children of Israel complained and complained God was going to provide them enough meat for a month. But now notice Moses response.


Numbers 11:21 And Moses said, "The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, 'I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month.'  22 "Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?"


I think you can see from Moses response that he was not thinking straight. Obviously his frustration with the complaining people had affected his judgment because if anyone knew that God was in control and could provide it  was Moses. In this Moses is questions how in the world such a great feat could be accomplished in feeding so many people meat.


Numbers 11:23 And the LORD said to Moses, "Has the LORD's arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not."


I think a lot of people through out time have thought that the Lords arm had been shortened. Some have prayed and prayed for something to happen and when it doesn’t happen the way they think it should happen they begin to doubt God or some will see a great disaster and see young children get killed and again they might say where were you God. This what Moses was doing he was doubting in God ability and God ask him has my arm been shortened? God tells Moses you just wait and see if what I have said will come true. You know God does not have to prove anything to anybody but Moses is about to find out that with God anything is possible.


With this thought in mind let’s look at what Jesus told his disciples in


Matthew 19:24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"  26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


So not only was possible for God to provide meat for the children of Israel God has made it possible for us to have salvation. In both of the instances mankind could not accomplish these things on there own. It was only made possible through God.


Numbers 11:24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle.  25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.  26 But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.  27 And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."  28 So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, "Moses my lord, forbid them!"  29 Then Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!"  30 And Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.


We just read phase one of God promise being fulfilled. God put the spirit that was on Moses on these 70 elders and the prophesied. One interesting point is here is that only 68 of them gathered around the tabernacle but 2 remained in the camp and as the spirit came upon them even the 2 in camp received the spirit and prophesied. This concerned one young man so much so that he ran to Moses to tell him about these 2 men prophesying. Joshua wants Moses to tell them to stop. But, why was Joshua so concerned? Well, I can tell what I think the deal was. I think that Joshua fully realized that God was going to give Moses 70 men to help him out. So when he heard about these men speaking things of God perhaps he thought they were doing something that they should not do so that is why  he wanted Moses to make them stop. Moses just tells Joshua oh I wish everyone was a prophet. I feel that I were I were Joshua’s shoes that I would have said  the same thing he had done. He simply did not want something to be done that would stir up the anger of the Lord against them.


Joshua set a great example for us in the church today. If you see something being done the church that you don’t understand and your not for sure if it is biblical or not you 2 different ways of finding out. The best way is to simply roll up you sleeves and open up your Bible a study it out to see if you can find you answer in the Word of God. You second choice is to ask the preacher, the elders or someone you trust with Biblical knowledge and have them show from the scriptures why this particular things is ok to do or not to do.


Numbers 11: 31 Now a wind went out from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day's journey on this side and about a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground.  32 And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.  33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.  34 So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.  35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people moved to Hazeroth, and camped at Hazeroth.   


Now see God fulfill the second part of his promise. What an amazing site that must have been to see so many quail spread as far as the eye could see. The children of Israel spent all day and all night gathering up all these quails and they ate and they and they ate. When God seen how some of them were making such pigs of themselves it stirred up his anger and made a plague of some kind come upon them and many of them died. Many times you will see that Moses will call a particular a name which represents what happened there. So he named this Kibroth Hattaavah which literally means Graves of Craving. From there their children of Israel move on to Hazeroth.


We learn a lot from this chapter that we could apply to Christianity. We learned that we should complain about everything under the sun instead we should be content with what we have. We also learned that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear. We also learned the importance of bearing the load of responsibility of the church and we always need to remember that through God all things are possible. Finally we learned those who do not respect God and complain against him will be judged by him.