- Sermon Notes
Satisfied in God
Numbers 11:4-9, 18-20, 31-34
The events of chapter 11 took place in perhaps their second year of wandering in the wilderness.The chapter begins with a hint of a problem, “The people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord.”
Adversity has tested the faith of many people. Jesus gave a parable that the word of God being sown in the hearts of men was like a farmer sowing seed on various types of soils. Some seed fell on the hard path. When anyone is hard of heart the word of God cannot take root and the enemy comes and snatches away what has been sown.
Other seed was sown on rocky places. This is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; but it has no firm root in his heart and when affliction or adversity arises, he is offended and immediately falls away.
Adversity has shipwrecked the faith of many people, yet God expected them to walk through the wilderness with endurance; to be thankful they had been set free from oppression and slavery in Egypt; that He had provided miraculously for them in bringing water to quench their thirst and manna to sustain them on the way.
God wants us to endure as well. This is a troubled world, filled with adversity. Don’t allow your faith to be shipwrecked. Instead, strengthen your faith in the storm and know that God will use these things in your life.
The cause of their complaint had to do with food. They grew tired of manna and began weeping saying, “Who will give us meat to eat?”
What was it that God expected? He expected them to endure in the wilderness by having faith, by being thankful for what God had done, and by looking to what God had in store for them. He was taking them through the wilderness to get to the land of promise. He is taking them somewhere.Stand firm, be faithful and don’t complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord.
There is a lot of personal application in this story.Israel being set free from their slavery in Egypt is a picture of our being set free from the world.This story is also a picture of those who find themselves discontent and complain of adversity. Let’s read the story and learn from their mistakes.
I. Master the Wilderness
- It’s not that God expected them to defeat the desert, to somehow reduce the heat, or to make the desert green.He expected them to master the wilderness in the sense that the wilderness would not master them.
Illus – Pastor Shawn and I were in Africa last year and I was struck by what I saw in the believers there.They have learned to suffer well.
- Israel had God; and God promised that His presence would go with them.He would be with them and His presence would be enough.
- The desert heat would always be there.It’s dry.It’s hot.It’s difficult.It’s irritating.The flesh stands ready to complain; but you must master it.You must learn to master the wilderness, or it will master you.
- They will not be ready for a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of abundant blessing, until they have learned to master the wilderness.It’s only when you learn that God is with you in the wilderness, that you are ready for a land flowing with milk and honey.
- His Presence is the key to suffering well.His Presence is also the key to being content with abundance.
Illus – I had friends growing up who had every advantage.They had wealthy parents, they lived in a nice home, there was peace in their house.Their parents did not fight.They were nurtured and encouraged along the way.This is very helpful, no doubt, but somewhere along the way they are going to have to learn how to suffer and to suffer well.
Others, like me, lived in poverty, had an abusive, alcoholic father, who lived in dysfunction and chaos.But suffering itself does not teach how to suffer well.Such hardships have shipwrecked many lives.
Here is the key – – it’s only when you come to discover that His Presence is enough; when the joy of the Lord becomes your strength; that you learn to suffer well.
A.Discontent is dangerous
- The theme of this chapter is discontent.“They became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord.”The root of complaining is discontent, and discontent is dangerous.
- Discontent is also contagious.Verse 4– “And the rabble among them had greedy desires.” The New King James says, “Now the mixed multitude among them yielded to intense craving.”
Exodus 12:38, A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.
- These were people who came out of Egypt with the children of Israel.Perhaps they were slaves from other countries. Many of them could have been Egyptian.
- But they didn’t have the same relationship to God and were led by greedy desires. The problem is that the mixed multitude, or the “rabble” among them influenced everyone else.It’s never good when those with a bad attitude influence the others.
- Numbers 11 is for our instruction, that we should learn from their example.It’s a lesson in leadership.
1 Corinthians 10:11, Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…
B.Beware of creative remembering
- When Israel complained about not having meat, they became creative in how they remembered their time in Egypt.
- Verse 6 — “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the onions and the garlic…”
- That makes it sound like there was a regular “Home Buffet” in Egypt and life there was all roses and light.
- That wasn’t the way it was at all. Did they forget the tears and the bitterness of slavery?Did they forget the oppression and hardship? In fact, the Passover meal was given to help them remember.In the Passover, they ate bitter herbs, dipped in salt water, to remind them of their bitter years and the tears of anguish with which they cried out to God.
Illus – Some people do the same thing; they have creative remembering when it comes to when they were in the world. Did they forget the lostness, the loneliness, the emptiness and the stupidity of those days?
- Creative remembering is dangerous.
2 Corinthians 10:5, We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
C.Much flesh makes leanness of soul
- Verse 6 – “there is nothing at all to look at but this manna!”
- Manna was good; it tasted like wafers with honey. But more than that, it was a miraculous provision! It was what God Himself had provided for Israel to be sustained in the desert for forty years!
- They weren’t satisfied with manna and since it was God’s provision, it meant they weren’t satisfied with God.
- So God gave them what they craved.It’s a bad day when God gives what the flesh craves for.
Romans 1:24-25, Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…
- God gave them what the flesh desired; He gave them quail to eat, enough for thirty days. But they weren’t satisfied with the quail either. They went after it with such greed and ate so much it came out their noses.
God gave them their request, but it came at a great price.The price was leanness of soul.
Psalm 106:13-15, They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request but sent leanness into their soul.
- So they called that place, Kibroth-hataavah, which means literally, “the graves of greed.”
- Here’s the problem, you can’t have both.If the flesh becomes the master, the soul will become sick.You will become empty and eventually will lose your way.
John 6:27, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…
- When the soul is strong, you will have the spiritual strength to have victory; and every blessing that comes with strength of soul is yours.
II.The Key is to Keep Your Soul Satisfied
- In this chapter are the dangers of the discontent, but we also see the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- God gave Moses seventy men from the elders of Israel to help shoulder the burden. God placed the Holy Spirit upon them, and they even prophesied.
- What a contrast.God moves by His Spirit and men are filled with power and strength.But when they are driven by their desires and complain when they encounter adversity, they are weak and defeated.
A.Never forget who you are in Christ
- Not only did Israel have a problem of creative remembering, they also forgot all that God had done for them!
- They forgot that God had saved them from slavery and oppression, He parted the Red Sea that they might be rescued from the Egyptian army. He turned the bitter water sweet, He brought water out of a rock, and He gave them manna every day!
- The problem was that manna wasn’t exciting their senses.
John 6:32-35, Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
- God sent His Son, the Bread of Life. Never become discontent and long for the garlic and leeks of the world. Always remember what God has done for you in Christ; and what He wants to do in you!
2 Peter 1:3-9, His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness… He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.For this very reason, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence… For he who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
B. .The joy of the Lord is your strength
- The answer to discontent is to be wholly satisfied in God. In other words, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
- The flesh will not be satisfied with a spiritual diet, and the spirit will most certainly not be satisfied with a fleshly diet.
- Paul gave us the secret of being content…
Philippians 4:12-13, I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
- The key is found in the verse, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Numbers 11:4-34 NASB
4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. 8 The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
10 Now Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, each man at the doorway of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, and Moses was displeased. 11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? 12 Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ 14 I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. 15 So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”
16 The Lord therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone. 18 Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off 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 a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ’ ” 21 But Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, so that they may eat for a whole month.’ 22Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or should all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?” 23The Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”
24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. 25Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it 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 who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. 27 So a young man ran and told Moses and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” 30 hen Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.
3 1Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 The people spent all day and 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 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. 34So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy.