Because of our innate sin nature, even those who are deeply in love with the Lord, can fall prey to the temptation. We sometimes learn to justify our actions and our feelings. We tend to not lean on the Lord to guide us because we grow weary. That weariness is often a spirit of discontent that seeps into our souls because we do not spend as much time in worship or praise or prayer or in the Word. We begin to walk in our understanding instead of by the Spirit of the Lord. What is it? Let’s begin in Exodus 12 and then move into Numbers 11.
Exodus 12 is the account of the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. God has opened a door but He has given them very specific instructions to follow in order for them to exit the land. Verse 37 tells us that there were about 600,000 men plus women and children that left Egypt of the Israelites.
Verse 38: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.” A mixed multitude? Yes, other captives from Egypt who witnessed God’s power and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be free. There was actually about 2.4 million people that left Egypt. No matter how we calculate the numbers, there were a very large number of non-Israelites that joined the exodus!
You certainly cannot fault them for taking the opportunity to leave their captivity to begin a new life, can you? But, here’s where the challenges begin for both the sojourner (unsaved in our situation) and for the Israelite (or for us, the reborn). God does not force them to believe and partake of all the rituals and feasts; however, they do need to honor and respect the “laws” which were the word of the Lord. It is the same for us today. Our country was founded upon the word of God and the freedom to worship the Lord God Almighty. A citizen of our country does not “have” to convert to Christianity but they are to respect the “law of the land”, whether it is the federal, state, city or county law or the “freedom of religiion” which is foundational to our government.
As we look at Numbers 11:1 we are told, “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger who kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” (NASB)
Wait a minute, the murmuring and complaining of those who weren’t of the Israelites is now spreading to the Israelites! God is so angry that He actually sends fire down and burns some of the outskirts of the camp!
Here’s the question for today. Why was God so angry? Verse 4-6 gives us great insight into the situation. I’m going to quote the NASB version because the KJV is a little hard to understand the full meaning. “And 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? 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, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.’ “
I don’t know about you, but I can have a pity party all by myself, I don’t need a multitude of unbelievers feeding me more reasons to be discontent! Which is exactly what is happening. By the way, rabble simply means mixed multitude. So those who were not the children of Israel who decided to join the party were now very discontent with the circumstances and they were not being silent about their anger, and it was spreading throughout the camp.
God is angry because instead of having an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for being free, being given food to eat, being kept healthy, not having to worry about clothing or shoes or sickness, they move into the spirit of discontent and what they don’t have. Simply stated, they are telling God they don’t like the way He is taking care of them!
I doubt any of you will disagree with how ungrateful they were. You would even agree that God had a right to be upset with them. But what if I told you we do the exact same thing today when we complain, murmur, gossip, lack gratitude? Ouch!
Do you know that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a spiritual reminder for us to “clean out” all of the “sin/leaven” in our lives? It also is a spiritual picture of “fasting”. Fasting isn’t giving up of food, or anything else, because we have to; it should not be a ritual. It is a reminder to go before the Lord and allow Him to show us where we have grown “fat” and have moved away from Him and have become dependent on ourselves.
I’ll use an example in my life that really brought this to light. Last year I became very ill and was nauseated 24/7. This lasted for about 3 months. There were only a few things that I could eat without it getting worse. Even the medicine the doctor told me to take made it worse. I was very weak but praised God through the whole illness because it gave me an opportunity to spend a lot of time with Him. I knew His hand was in it, He didn’t cause it, but He allowed it. He had shown me before I became so sick I couldn’t even function properly that He was closing a door and to trust Him because He would open another one.
While this time was not “pleasant” in the natural sense, it was heavenly in the spiritual. My joy in the Lord returned in a new level of worship and relationship. I knew there wasn’t anything that I could not trust Him with. And that included food! It took many months for my strength to return as my body was healing, but I had developed a much healthier way of eating. I can still eat some of my old favorites, but my body has become so sensitive to food that I can immediately feel the difference when I eat more things that are unhealthy than healthy! I praise God for that! I am content with whatever situation God deems for my life.
That’s what the children of Israel lacked, a personal relationship with the Lord God Almighty, so instead of being of like minded with Him, they became like minded with the “world”. Which camp are you in?
Abba, thank You for Your word which is so alive today. You are the same yesterday, today and forevermore! You made a way in the wilderness for the Israelites and You have made a way through Your Son Jesus Christ for us today to walk the narrow way through the “world” we live in today. Thank You, Jesus, that You gave of Yourself to deliver us from sin. You have given us Your Spirit to be a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet. You are the foundation that holds steady when the world is spinning out of control. I have no fear when my eyes look upon You, the Holy One of Israel. Forgive us for blending into society, guide us back out into the light of Your life that we might lead others out of the darkness. You are great and greatly to be praised. We bow our knee and pray these things in the blessed name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!