Numbers 11-16

This teaching is the 3rd part in a series of thirteen. Please read the other 12 parts.

Disbelief: we must learn not to doubt God, nor to have doubts before Him. God who came down from Heaven to deliver us from Hell, is capable of doing all that He has promised. But at times, when we are in little difficulties, or trial moments we find ourselves doubting what God can do for us. Beloved, doubting God is a clear proof that we do not yet know God. Because those who know Him are aware of the fact that His powers are unlimited, and they remain firm no matter the circumstances. Daniel 11:32 "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."

As external causes, we noted the presence of rabble in the midst of the people.

Rabble: in addition to the notion of rabble that our brethren examined as an external cause of murmuring, we saw that the people also murmured because they had crooked hearts.

Consequences of murmuring on the servant of God: here we have the case of Moses who carried the heavy burden of interceding for the people each time they murmured. Moses was a man of integrity, very patient, and slow to anger. He feared God with all his heart and walked in integrity before God. He very much suffered for the people. It was painful for us to discover that Moses spent all his life suffering and interceding for people who were going to make him miss the Promised Land. Moses whom God made a god for the people found himself asking the Lord: O Lord, please allow me to enter the promise land. He missed the Promised Land because of the people for whom he suffered much. At times we think that we are patient, or that we know how to support others. But the case of Moses was exceptional. Even the Bible confirmed that Moses was the most patient man on earth. The Lord Himself testifies about him. Yet, because of the people, this rebellious and difficult people, he ended up missing the Promised Land.

The justice of God: the manner in which God treated Moses made us tremble. It is difficult to understand that God could chastise Moses to the extent of refusing him the Promised Land. Yet, it is the reality. We must endeavour to fear God. God does not only apply His justice on those outside but also on us.

The impact of murmuring even on children: the children were bound to lose forty years of their lives because the adults murmured. The repercussions of our murmuring can be on those around us. The children who were supposed to grow up in the Promised Land lost this great privilege.

The discernment of Moses: we noted the attitude of Moses in the face of two situations. His reaction to Aaron and Miriam, we see Moses interceding for them. And in the case of Dathan and Abiram, we see the same Moses telling God: "Lord I have not taken anything from them..." He forgave some and condemned others because he had discernment. In our group, someone asked to know whether Moses did not intercede for Aaron and Miriam simply because they had carnal relation. The answer is no; beloved. We must try to understand the thought of God and the sense of His Word. Moses acted by discernment and not because it was his carnal brother or sister. The proof is that we see the same Moses in Exodus 32:27-29 addressing the people after they sinned against the Lord: "27And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.'" ... 29Then Moses said, "Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother." We must become spiritual for if we remain carnal, we will never understand the thought of God.

How to avoid murmuring

We noticed that in the face of every bit of trial, the people lacked faith. They will forget what the Lord had done for them, plunge themselves in disbelief, which in turn pushed them into murmuring. To avoid murmuring, we must build our faith. If we lack faith and also forget what the Lord has done for us, we will find ourselves murmuring. But when we have faith, we always remember what the Lord has done for us and that prevents us from murmuring.

Contentment: we must learn to be contented, for, it is a sine qua non for our stability in the faith as well as our spiritual equilibrium.

Remembering God's blessings: during one of our conferences, a brother observed that in the Bible, our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc. built an altar for the Lord each time He did something for them. This brother wanted to know what those altars represent today in our lives. We tried to see how we can build altars in our lives today. Each time, the Lord Himself tells the people to do something that will enable them to remember His blessings in their lives. We have the case of fringes which were going to help the people to always remember what happened in order not to fall into the trap of forgetfulness. Numbers 15:39 "And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined." And for us today, we must do everything to always remember the blessings of God in our lives.

Discernment and Separation: 1Cor 5:13 "... Expel the wicked person from among you." Agents of satan are a stumbling block to God's people.

Avoid forgetfulness: we must always remember what our God has done for us.

As a conclusion, we meditated on this passage of 1Cor 10:1-12 "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

The notion of God's blessings: the Lord has already made His promises to us, His blessings, but it is for each person to make the promises his; it is for each person to grasp the blessings before the Lord.

Fourth Group

We will do our best to avoid dwelling on the points that our brethren have already examined. We started by giving the Dictionary's definition of murmuring: murmuring is the discreet expression of disapproval. We stressed on the word "discreet". It is generally something that begins like a secret and later on comes to the surface. It generally starts in a small group. We also defined it as an expression of discontentment, despise, dissatisfaction, rebellion and lust.

The people were always prompt to murmur, given that as soon as the rabble started murmuring they followed their example. If we do not dispose our hearts correctly, we shall be a target in the hands of satan and his agents. If our hearts are inclined to murmuring, the incantations or the murmuring of the rabble shall have an immediate effect on us.

Regarding leaven, we also mentioned the passage of 1Cor 5:6 "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?"

To further support the fact that murmuring affects the servant of God, we cited the passage of Hebrews 13:17 "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." Given the task of the leaders, we must obey and help them. We must obey our leaders so as to ease their work. We must support them in the ministry, rather than spending time to fight them or to revolt against them.

Contentment: Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." The people complained whereas God had given them manna free of charge. God who knew what was good for them, gave it to them, but they were not satisfied. They wanted more. Consequently, their lustfulness ended up ruining them.

The negative effects of murmuring on servants of God: we also noted the negative effects of murmuring on servants of God. Moses who knew that God is capable of doing everything was destabilized by the people's murmuring to the extent of speaking lightly before God. Numbers 11:21-23 "21And 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?"

Murmuring provokes God's wrath: we noted that murmuring provokes the anger of God. We must therefore take measures to avoid murmuring. It is something to avoid absolutely. God does not tolerate murmuring. Murmuring contaminates and subsequently brings the wrath of God on everyone.

The ungratefulness of the people: we also examined the people's ungratefulness. It is really because of ungratefulness that we commit many sins before God. We must always remember the uncountable blessings of God in our lives.

Separation: 2Cor6:14-17 "14Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 17Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." As long as we fail to understand this notion of separation, our life before God will be constantly shaky. In order to please God, we should separate ourselves from all that is likely to cause us to resist God.

Rabble: speaking about rabble, we noted that Moses, Joshua and Caleb remained firm despite the incantations. We must learn to be unshakable despite the presence of the rabble. For, those who are easily diverted are those whose hearts are inclined to murmuring. The rabble easily shake those who are disposed to be shaken. No doubt that the people murmured, but those who knew their God remained firm. Daniel 11:32 "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."

Rebellion of the people: we wondered why God struck the people after giving them meat. We observed that rebellion was hidden behind the murmuring. Those people opposed God; they had rebellious hearts before God.

The answering of prayer is not always a blessing: we also observed the fact that the answering of prayer is not necessarily a blessing. Here, the people asked for meat from God who gave it to them but later on stuck them. We must therefore be careful with the prayers that we make out of the will of God. Because when our prayer is not according to the will of God, when we persistently ask something from God, He can give us that thing even though it is of no use to us.

Contentment: still talking about contentment, we noted that the Lord was not incapable of giving them meat when He gave them manna. When God gave them manna, He very well knew that meat existed, but chose not to give it to them. With this, we understand that the Lord only gives us that which is useful to us. Therefore, we must learn to thank God for what we have and for what we do not have, for all that He decides to give us and for all that He decides not to give us. We must learn to joyfully accept all that the Lord chooses to give us or not to give us on earth. Therefore, if we can learn to thank God with all our heart, if we can learn to wholeheartedly thank God for all that we don't have, we shall never fall into the trap of murmuring or rabble who are in our midst. We should learn to rejoice over what the Lord chooses not to give us. For, we cannot have all that we want on this earth. We must learn therefore to be contented with what God chooses to give us. With God, nothing is impossible. The proof is that He gave meat to the people when they cried to Him.

Jealousy: We also noted the jealous attitude of Miriam and Aaron in Chapter 12. Regarding Miriam and Aaron, we saw that even though we are of God, if we badly dispose our hearts, satan can really use us to do terrible things. And, still talking about Aaron, we noted that he who is standing must take heed, lest he fall. 1Cor 10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." It is surprising that Aaron finds himself murmuring against Moses. However, when we read Aaron's prayer in verse 11: "So Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned," we understood that he was truly a spiritual man. For, he has not despised the authority to go and ask for forgiveness from God. He came back and said to Moses: "Please do not lay this sin on us". Being spiritual, he knew that if Moses refuses to forgive him, he shall not be forgiven. This reminds us of the Word of God in Mat 18:18 which says: "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." We saw the concretisation of this word. Here Moses forgave and God forgave, in the other passage, he condemned and the Lord condemned. We therefore see the power and importance of servants of God before God.

Let us still look at the case of Moses and Aaron, we must be very careful with God's chosen servants. It is not in relation to their age that we must obey them. Even if the one God has chosen is younger than us, we must submit ourselves to him. Never despise a servant of God because he is younger than you or because he is a member of your carnal family. The one whom God has established must be respected as such, no matter his age or the relation that binds you to him. We also noted the fact that it is God Himself who testifies about Moses. This aspect really touched us. It is God Himself who took the defense of Moses.

The attitude of Dathan, Kore and Abiram: the attitude of Dathan, Kore and Abiram was also remarkable. They were wicked and rebellious in the eyes of the Lord. Their hearts were not upright before God. They only used excuses to hide the state of their hearts. They were not ready to obey God. They revolted against Moses by saying that all the people are holy, whereas people's hearts were full of deceit and wickedness. They gave all these stupid reasons just to mask their rebellion and revolt against God.

Let's re-read Numbers 16:3 "They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" Look at people who claim to be holy; later on we see them behaving like fools. Today we hear each so-called pastor shouting: "God also called me, you are not the only one to be called by God." Yet their works betray them. Look at the reaction of people who claim to be holy and proclaim their companions holy: they do not hesitate to discourage the people, and make God a liar, for, according to them, God who promised to give them the Promised Land, would not do it. They violently oppose Moses by saying in Numbers 16:13 "Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?" We see that it's not Moses but the Lord who promised to give them the Promised Land. They who claimed to be holy instead incited the people to rebel against God, to doubt the promises of God. Those are the works of the "saints".

Beloved, let's be careful with disguised wolves who are still in our midst. From now henceforth, let's not allow ourselves to be devoured. Acts 20:29-30 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." We are therefore warned!

The power of incantation on the people: still talking about Chapter 13, we really saw the power of incantation on the people. Because when the 10 spies gave their report, the people no longer wanted to enter the Promised Land. But, later on, when they realized their error, they were ready to go even if God was no longer with them. It comes out clearly here that if they had received a good report they would have gone without any problem. After the Lord's anger had already been provoked, the people were now ready to go; this confirms the fact that if this people had received a good report they would have had the courage to go. The words of incantation had a negative effect on them. Once more, we who know the Lord should walk in firmness. Let's not be shaken by the storm around us.

Grace be with you all who have Jesus Christ as Master!



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