There are times we all have our complaints. We complain about the weather. It is either too hot; or too cold. It is raining when we wanted to work outdoors, or picnic, or play in some fashion. We complain because our job does not pay enough. We may complain because of sickness; either our own or a friend or family member.
The reading this morning is, and was for me; Numbers 10 – 23. There is much complaining; and from what I can see the complaining is toward Moses and Aaron, and especially toward God. Complaining against God is a pitiful thing. It shows that you know better than God does; or at least that you think you do. And that is the heart of the complaints among the children of Israel in the wilderness.
In chapter 11 they complain about the Manna;
“And the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” (11:8)
That is not, however, the testimony of Scripture in Exodus 16:31;
“…and it was like coriander see, and white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”
Manna was the sustenance which God had provided for Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. It was sweet; at least until they began messing with it. They wanted meat, so God gives them meat; so much it makes many of them sick unto death. Hear what the word of the LORD says;
“And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” Numbers 11:23 (KJV).
Even Moses questions God about where all this meat is going to come from, thus God’s message for Moses, and the people.
In chapters 10 – 23 we see much rebellion of the children; some of it beginning with what the KJV calls “the mixed multitude”. This “mixed multitude” are people who came out of Egypt who were not of Israel. Some were probably Egyptians who saw the power of God, yet did not believe in Him to the point of really trusting Him. That is a matter Christians of today need to be alert and aware of also.
When Moses sent a search committee into the Promised Land to search out its richness and possible problems (chapters 13-14) of the twelve who were sent only two returned with faith, believing the LORD was able to deliver the land into their hands. Rebellion and unbelief are bulwarks of hindrance to the power and work of God in individual lives and a nation. When the people realized they had sinned against the LORD, they attempted yet to rebel against God and proceeded with a contingent of people to go and take the land (14:40-45).
Three Levite leaders rebel against the leadership of Aaron and Moses; they and their followers are destroyed as the earth opens up and swallows Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, their families and their followers (chapter 16). It is indeed “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Even Moses shows some defiance when instead of speaking to the rock he strikes it. Yet God in His grace provides water from the rock for the people.
Last, but not least, was a prophet; who was a prophet for profit; or for hire is called on to curse the children of Israel. Chapters 22 – 23 begin the plot of Balak king of the Moabites to curse Israel through the use of Balaam the erring prophet. God used a donkey to speak to this prophet. Not to belittle the story or to deny its truth; I wonder how many times God has used an animal to speak to people and they refused to hear them?
Speak LORD, for Thy servant hears.
Rebellion is the heart of unbelief. When complainers challenge God, His authority, His leaders, and His people they will die. When they challenge His promises they will die (14:36-38). Believe the LORD, trust Him through His Son Jesus who died for your sins, was buried and rose again. He is our only hope.
-Tim A. Blankenship