Satisfied in God
Numbers 11:4-9, 18-20, 31-34
October 13, 2019
I mentioned last week that this book is not called the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible, but rather it's called In the Wilderness because it describes the events that take place during those 40 years when Israel is in the desert. There's a lot of lessons for us in this book because it's all about faith. When you get to Numbers, chapter 11, this takes place in perhaps the second year of the wandering in the wilderness and you get a hint of the problem right out of chapter 11, verse 1 where it says, "Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the Hearing of the Lord." Right there is the problem. Adversity has tested the faith of many people.
It reminds me of a parable that Jesus gave that really applies to this. Kind of gives insight into this. He said that the Word of God being sung is like a farmer sowing seed on various types of soil. He said that the seed that falls on the hard path is not taken. It's snatched up by the birds. And it's describing that heart that's hard and the Word of God cannot take root and the enemy comes and snatches it away and it does not bear any fruit.
But the second type of soil describes to us what we see in Numbers 11. Because He says in this second type of soil, this is the one that is sown on rocky places. This is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives the Word with joy, but it has no firm root in the heart. Then it says, when affliction or adversity comes, he's offended and immediately falls away. That describes what's happening in Numbers 11.
Adversity has shipwrecked the faith of many people. What did God expect? God expected them to have a different perspective. He expected them to walk through the wilderness with endurance. Perspective is everything. How do you see the thing? He expected them to be thankful that they have been set free from the oppression and slavery in Egypt. He expected them to understand that He had provided miraculously for them in bringing water to quench their thirst and manna to sustain them every day.
I. Master the Wilderness
There's a lesson for us. What does God expect from us? He expects us to endure as well because we're living in a time and in a world of tremendous difficulty and adversity. So, don't allow your faith to be shipwrecked. Strengthen your faith in the storm and know that God will use those things in your life. Now the complaint that they had, it had to do with food. They grew tired of that manna and they began to weave saying, "Who will give us meat? We want meat to eat." What was it that God expected from them? He expected them to endure in the wilderness by having faith. By being thankful for what God has done, but also to look forward to what God was doing.
He was taking them somewhere. He was bringing them through the wilderness to get to the Land of Promise. He's taking them somewhere. Endure. Stand firm. Don't complain of adversity in the hearing of The Lord. Now, there's a lot of application for us in the sense that Israel, being set free from the slavery and oppression of Egypt, is a picture of our being set free. Our being set free from the world, and the oppression of our soul. We've been given life. It's a picture of that. But it also is a picture of those who are discontent and complain of adversity.
Let's read the story and apply it and learn from their mistakes. We're going to read through the whole chapter in parts because we're going to weave the story together. The other verses around it, you know we cover on Wednesday during a verse by verse, chapter by chapter study.
Let's begin at verse four. And the rabble who were among them-- These were the non-Jews, those who were not Hebrews who came out with them. The rabble who were among them had greedy desires. Also, then the sons of Israel wept again, and they said, "Who will give us meat to eat. Oh, we remember. We remember the fish which we used to eat freely in Egypt. Oh, don't you remember the good old days when we were in Egypt? Oh yes, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic. But now our appetite is gone. There's nothing at all to look at except this manna."
Then it reminds us. Now, the manna was like coriander seed. Its appearance was like that of the dolium. It's kind of an off-white. The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar or boil it in the pot and make cakes with it. Its taste was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. I like to use the illustration of taste like cakes baked in oil, sounds like Krispy Kreme doughnuts [laughter]. Except they're healthy. Super healthy, nutritious. But they tasted really good like Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
By the way, our Krispy Kreme doughnuts, we have Krispy Kreme doughnuts all donated by Krispy Kreme. Just thought that I'd throw that in since I donate them all. Have you ever had a Krispy Kreme doughnut that is microwaved for just four seconds? It will melt in your mouth [laughter]. But hey, Krispy Kreme doughnuts every single day. After a while, it's like, "Hey, every day?"
But wait. It was a miracle. It was a provision of God every day. It says when the dew fell on the camp at night, manna would fall with it. It's a miracle every day. Jump if you will, to verse 18. So, Moses brings this to the Lord. The complaint, the crying, the complaining of adversity. So, God says, verse 18, "Say to the people. Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow and you will eat meat, for you have wept in the ears of the Lord." Now listen to this, because it's very key. For you have wept in the ears of the Lord and you have said this, "Oh, oh that someone will give us meat to eat for we were better off in Egypt." This is the problem.
Therefore, the Lord will give you meat and you will eat. But you will not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days. You're going to eat for a whole month until it comes out of your nostrils and it becomes loathsome to you. The only way that this was going to come out of their nostrils is if they have so engorged themselves that they are now throwing it up. And it will become loathsome because you have rejected the Lord. Look at this. You have rejected the Lord who is among you and you have wept before the Lord saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?"
Verse 31. Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea. Clearly, this is the Hand of God doing that which is miraculous to make this provision. And let them fall beside the camp about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side. In other words, miles. We're talking miles all around the camp about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. In other words, about up to a man's hip. So, the people spent all day and all night and all the next day and they gathered quail. And he who gathered least gathered ten homers.
And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp to dry. In other words, you eat, eat, and eat, 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 some of the people with a severe plague. So, the name of that place was called Kibroth-hatta-avah because there they buried the people who had been greedy. The name means the graves of greed. Now, these are verses I want us to look at. We'll look at the other verses around it on Wednesday. But there's a lot of lessons for us to apply. And I'd like us to start with a very important point, that the Lord wants us to master the wilderness.
What do I mean by that? I don't by that that God expected them to defeat the desert or somehow reduce the heat or somehow make the desert green. No, He expected them to master the wilderness in the sense that He wanted them to make sure that the wilderness would not master them. When Pastor Sean and I were in Africa this last year, both of us were struck by what we saw in the believers there.
Clearly, they were suffering. A lot of adversity. Difficult just to find food. Difficult to put some kind of roof over the head of your family. Just difficult to move around the city or even have any kind of employment at all. They suffered. And they're suffering, but what we noted was this. They're suffering well. There's joy, there's faith, there's endurance, there's looking to the Lord, there's worship. They're suffering well.
You look at Israel in the desert, Israel had God. God had promised that His presence would go with them. Do you remember back in Exodus when we read about a trouble that come and Moses said to the Lord, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us from this place." You remember then after a number of verses in that story that God then said to Moses and to the people of Israel, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." The blessing of God's presence, it's everything here.
The desert would always be there. It would always be hot, it would always be dry, it would always be difficult, and it would always be irritating. Remember I mentioned, we were just in Israel recently. During our first week we were there, it was hot. One day, it was like 105. When you're in Israel, you're outside a lot seeing these various things. I was thinking, "Man, can you imagine 40 years?" 40 years in the desert and there's no bus with air conditioning that you can get on for a little reprieve. No, it's hot all that time and there is no shade and it is dry, and it is irritating.
The flesh stands ready to complain. It's right there. The flesh. It's always there ready to complain, but you must master it or it will master you. You must learn to master the wilderness, or the wilderness will master you. In other words, they will not be ready for a land flowing with milk and honey until they've learned to master the wilderness. They're not ready for a land of abundant blessing until they've learned to master the wilderness. It's only when you learn that God is with you in the wilderness that you are ready for the abundance of what God will pour out. His presence is the key to suffering well. His presence is also the key to having abundance because many cannot do that well.
Many of you know of my story. Certainly, raised with difficulty, adversity, poverty extreme, but I have friends growing up. I knew them from school. I had friends growing up that 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 all along the way. Now this would no doubt be very helpful, but somewhere somehow, they're going to have to learn how to suffer because this is a troubled world. This is a world filled with adversity and difficulty. Somewhere somehow, they're going to have to learn how to suffer, but they're going to have to learn how to suffer well.
Others like me lived in poverty, had an abusive alcoholic father, lived in dysfunction and chaos, but I would tell you a great lesson. Suffering itself does not teach you how to suffer well, for there are many who are raised in such adversity and it shipwrecked their lives. There are many people who had alcoholic fathers and they became alcoholics themselves. There were many people who had abusive fathers and they became abusive themselves. Many people who were raised in dysfunction and then they brought that dysfunction with them in their lives. Suffering itself does not teach you how to suffer well.
A. Discontent is dangerous
The key is this. It's only when you come to discover that His presence is enough, then you will know how to suffer well. It's only when you discover that the joy of the Lord is your strength that you will learn to suffer well. Because you must master the wilderness, or it will master you. What do we see out of the story? One of the great lessons is this, discontent is dangerous. That's the theme of the chapter. They became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord and the root of complaining is discontent and discontent is dangerous.
Not only is discontent dangerous, I suggest to you that discontent is also contagious. The rubble among them had greedy desires, the New King James says, "Now, the mixed multitude among them yielded to intense craving." These were those that came out of Egypt who were not Hebrews. It tells us this very clearly in Exodus 12:38, it says, "A mixed multitude went up with them along with flocks and herds and a very great number of livestock." These were the people who came out of Egypt, perhaps they were slaves from other places. I'm convinced that many of them were Egyptians. Because they saw this Great Jehovah defeat every one of their gods.
You know the 10 plagues that God brought upon Egypt through the hand of Moses, you know that every one of them was a challenge to one of the Egyptian gods. Every one of those Egyptian gods was defeated by Jehovah. I'm convinced that there were many in Egypt who said, "That Great Jehovah is the Great God over all the earth. That's the God I choose; I want to follow." They would've left, says the mixed multitude, they laughed also, but they didn't have the same relationship to God. They were led by their greedy desires, their flesh, their cravings. "I want meat, me want meat." That's the craving of the flesh, "Me want meat."
The problem is this, the problem is that the mixed multitude or the rubble among them influenced everyone else. Now it's never good when those with a bad attitude influence the others. That's not a good thing. It's really all about leadership. Who's going to influence who here? See, Numbers 11, it tells us it's for our instruction. Paul writes this, 1 Corinthians 10:11, "Now these things happen to them as an example and they were written for our instruction." There's a great lesson that comes out of this, it's about leadership.
B. Beware of creative remembering
Also, here's another part of the story that becomes a great lesson. Beware of creative remembering. See, when Israel complained about not having meat, they became very creative about how they remembered their time in Egypt. "We remember the fish which we had freely in Egypt. The cucumbers and the melons and the onions and the garlic. Oh my, what wonderful things we had in Egypt." That makes it sound like there was a regular home buffet in Egypt. "Life there was roses and light." That wasn't the way it was at all.
Did they forget? Did they forget the bitterness? Did not God say to Moses there when He said to Moses that he, Moses, would be leading these people? Did not God say to him, "I have heard the cries of my people. I have heard their cries. I have heard of their sufferings"? Did they forget? Did they forget the tears, did they forget the oppression and the hardship? In fact, the Passover meal, one of the aspects of the Passover meal was to remember. They would eat bitter herbs in the Passover meal. Bitter herbs dipped in saltwater. Never forget the bitterness. Taste it again, put the bitterness in your mouth so you'll never forget. Dip it in salt that would be reminding you of the tears. Did they forget?
Some people do the same thing. They have creative remembering when it comes to when they were back in the world. Do you remember the good old days when we used to party in the world? Those were the fun days. Oh my, what joy we had. We'd get drunk and we would laugh, and we would play. The joy that we had in the days of old. Really? Did you forget the emptiness, the lostness, the death of the soul?
Creative remembering is a dangerous thing. That's why Paul says, 2 Corinthians 10:5, speaking of taking hold of such things, he says, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
C. Much flesh makes leanness of soul
Now, here's another lesson that we see out of this story and it's this, much flesh makes leanness of soul. Much flesh makes leanness of soul. There is nothing to look at but this manna. But manna was good. It tasted good. It tasted like wafers with honey. But more than that, it was a miraculous provision, a miracle every day.
It was what God Himself had provided to sustain Israel in the desert for 40 years so they weren't satisfied with the manna and since it was sent by God as His provision, it meant that they weren't satisfied with God either and so God gave them what they craved. Now, it's a bad day when God gives what the flesh craves for because it will at some point come to that. You crave this so much that you're willing to wrestle God for it. Oh, you're willing to wrestle God, your flesh craves it. Finally, God says, "Then you can have it." That is a bad day.
It says thus in Romans 1:24-25, Paul speaks to it. "Therefore, God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity so that their bodies would be dishonored." They must see the result, the consequences of this, for they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie so God gave them what the flesh desired. He gave them quail to eat enough for 30 days. But even that did not satisfy, they went after with such greed, they engorge themselves so much that it came out their noses. "It will become loathsome to you", He said.
I was thinking of an analogy of this and I remember reading an article in Farm & Ranch Magazine, one of my favorite magazines. I was reading this article about this farmer who had this dog but this dog had a problem. This dog killed chickens. When you get a farm and the dog kills chickens, this is not good. The farmer decided he's going to have to teach this dog so he took one of the chickens that the dog killed and he tied it to the dog's neck. Two weeks later, that dog wanted nothing to do with chickens ever again. It will become loathsome to you. God gave them their request but it came at a great price and that price is leanness of soul.
Psalm 106:13-15 speaks of this time and it says they soon forgot His works. They did not wait for His counsel but they lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and they tested God in the desert, and He gave them their request but He sent leanness into their soul. They call it that place Kibroth-hatta-avah, the graves of greed. Here is the problem, here is a great lesson, you can't have both. You cannot have both. If the flesh becomes the master, then the soul will become sick and you will become empty and eventually, you'll lose your way. You cannot have both.
It's like that challenge that Joshua put forth when he drew Israel together and he said, "Choose you this day whom you will serve." It's like what Jesus said, "You cannot serve two masters." Choose because you cannot have both. If the flesh becomes a master, then the soul becomes sick but the opposite is also true. In fact, in John 6:27, this is taking place just after Jesus did that amazing miracle where He fed the 5000 with the five loaves and the two fish. It says that the next day a great crowd gathered and following after Him. Jesus then said to them, "You follow me not because you saw the signs but because you were fed."
He then says this in John 6:27, I'll give you just one snippet of that speech. He said, "Do not work for the food which perishes--" The craving of the flesh, the desires of hunger, "Me want meat" do not work for food which perishes but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.
II. The Key is to Keep Your Soul Satisfied
See, when the soul is strong, you will have spiritual strength to have victory and every blessing that comes with strength of soul is yours to have. Every blessing that comes with strength of soul is yours to enjoy. It is yours, enjoy it.
Because here's the thing that we've got to see, it's a grand lesson out of the story, the key is to keep your soul satisfied. In this chapter, we see the dangers of discontent, but we also see the power of the presence of the living God in the Holy Spirit. Some of the verses I did not read describe that Moses went to the Lord and he said, "These people is a great burden." God answered by saying, "I will give you 70 elders to help shoulder the burden with you."
He gathered these elders together in the presence of the Lord around the Tent of Meeting and then it tells us that the Holy Spirit fell on these leaders and they all begin to prophesy in the Holy Spirit. It's like this Holy Spirit poured out revival moment, right? It's a beautiful moment when the Power of God is seeing so amazingly that 70 people start prophesying in the Holy Spirit. Now, an interesting little story. Two of those 70 got delayed in the camp for some reason and they did not gather with the others. But as the Holy Spirit is being poured out on these elders, those two who had been delayed in the camp, they start prophesying right where they are in the camp.
Joshua comes to Moses and he said, "There are two people in the cabin, they're prophesied in the Holy Spirit. Stop them, sir. Stop them, Lord." Moses says, "You are jealous for my sake? I wish the whole camp would prophesy in the Holy Spirit." Do you see what he's saying?
A. Never forget who you are in Christ
The power of the Holy Spirit poured out. That's what the soul should desire. That's the contrast of the thing. See, keep your soul satisfied in the Lord and so we see this out of the story. Therefore, never forget who you are in Christ. Never forget what God is doing for you in the Lord.
Not only did Israel have a problem with their creative remembering, they also had a problem of forgetting. They forgot what God had done for them. They forgot that God saved them out of slavery and oppression, parted the sea that they might be rescued from the Egyptians. He turned the bitter water sweet. He brought water out of a rock. He gave them manna every day. The problem was that manna wasn't exciting anymore. It was exciting at the beginning. A miracle of God every single day, it tasted sweet like wafers made with honey. It was exciting at first but then manna every day, manna in the morning, manna in the evening. It's not enough we want more.
I think there's an application because I think that there are churches today that try to appeal to what you might say is the mixed multitude and they try to come up with all kinds of spiritual fads to try to stay exciting. Come up with some spiritual spice. I've been around a long time and I've seen a lot of fads come and go. We have decided here, that what we need is the manna of God's Word. We need manna for the soul. Some think it's not spicy enough. I'll tell you what we've decided, we need manna in the morning. We need manna in the evening, and we need manna at every service. We need God's Word, anybody agree with me? Amen. Let's give the Lord praise.
This last Wednesday, I was talking to some of the folks that came from the RC. You know we have a group of people that comes from the Restitution Center and they come on Wednesday. They let them out of the jail. I think it's marvelous, right? I'm talking this little group and I said to this fellow, "How long have you been coming?" He said, "Four weeks." I said, "I got to tell you something, I am impressed. I am absolutely impressed that you would come on a Wednesday night where we're going verse by verse, chapter by chapter through the book of Leviticus."
That is amazing to me. You're swimming in the deep water here and you are coming and it is amazing to see, I am impressed. He said, "It's changing me." I thought, yes, that is amazing. Can we give the Lord praise?
Because some of these, they had not had God's Word in their life. They didn't have God's Word growing up, they didn't have a foundation, they didn't hear God's Word and they're listening to God's Word verse by verse through the book of Leviticus. I said to the other fellow, I said, "How long have you been coming?" He said, "This is my first night." I said, "Hang in there. It's an acquired taste. It will taste better as you stay with it". Amen.
Jesus speaking to that crowd, this is John 6:32-35 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you bread out of heaven, 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. So then they said to Him, "Lord, 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."
Do you believe this? You see, that's the desire of the soul. I want that life. I want that that quenches is the soul, the thirst. He said He sent his Son the Bread of Life. He will satisfy the soul and give you life. Never become discontent and long for oh the garlics and the leaks, oh the melons we used to have in the world. Remember what God has done for you in Christ and remember what God wants to do in you by His Holy Spirit.
Let me give you some verses. 2 Peter 1: 3-9. The whole chapter is amazing. I want to give you these verses. "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", but notice this, "having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. So, for this very reason, applying all diligence in your faith, supply moral excellence."
Then He begins to describe the qualities of godliness and then He says he who lacks these qualities is blind. He who lacks these qualities is shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Never forget what God has done for you, but never forget what God wants to do in you because you can't have both. It doesn't work that way. You cannot have both. I was thinking about these verses and I was thinking the enemy is robbing many people. He's robbing many people because he's appealing to the cravings of their flesh and he says, let me give you those, let me answer those cravings and so they are distracted.
B. The joy of the Lord is your strength
They're distracted from what God wants to do. They're taken away from that purpose of God's call on their life. God wants you to have life and He wants you to have it abundantly. If you will let God have His way, He will bless your life in abundance of blessing. His Holy spirit will bring life to you. Let Him have His way and you will truly be blessed. Do not let the enemy rob you anymore because God has in store for your life, and life abundant and your soul will be filled and overflowing. Do not let the enemy rob you of that because here's really what we see out of this story. It's the joy of the Lord that is your strength.
The answer to being discontent is to be satisfied in God, be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul says in Galatians 5:16 he says, "I say this, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. I will give you the power to stand in victory. It's life, it's life, and it's life abundantly by the Holy Spirit." Listen to this. This is very important. The flesh will not be satisfied with a spiritual diet, okay? The flesh will never be satisfied with a spiritual diet. The flesh doesn't like the Man of God's Word. That's not enough. I want meat, me want meat.
The flesh will never be satisfied with that, but I also say this; the spirit won't be satisfied by a fleshly diet either. The spirit within you says, the flesh desire is not enough for me. That doesn't satisfy me. I want more, I want life, I want real life, I want life that's abundant, I want the joy of the Lord, I want the peace that passes understanding, I want that blessing of God's presence in my life and a fleshly diet is not enough for me. I want more than that. You have one life to live. Live it in the abundance of God's presence in your life.
You got to choose because you can't have both. Choose you this day who you will serve and if you decide that you will serve the Lord, He will pour out His Spirit and He will pour out His life and your whole soul will be filled up and you will never be disappointed at the joy that God brings to the soul.
Father, thank You so much. You are amazing. We're so thankful that you pursue us with the Holy Spirit and promise us life, but then You say to us, but you must choose, you must desire it. Church today, there is a great battle. The flesh has a craving, a desire. Me want, me want. But the spirit within you is never satisfied by that. That does not satisfy a soul that is hungry for life. Church today would you say to the Lord, I want life. I want life that comes from the Holy Spirit. I want life that comes from the presence of the Living God, I want that peace, I want that joy, I want to be filled with the abundance of God's presence in my life and nothing else will satisfy my soul. That's what I want.
Would you say to the Lord? If you would, I'm going to ask that you would in bold way just raise your hand and say, God, I just want to say it, I'm asking, I want that life, I want to be filled with the presence of the Living God, I want that peace, I want that joy, I want that life. Just raise your hand to the Lord and say, Father, thank You for everyone who seeks, who desires, who is asking. We want life and we want life to the full. We give You honor. We give You thanks for all that You're doing in us today in Jesus' name and everyone said? Amen.
- 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.