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4. Stumbling On

August 14, 2009

Text:      Numbers 9:15-12:16

Key Verses: Numbers 10:35-36

Outline:      I. Moving Out           Numbers 9:15-10:36

                          II. Complaints Against God      Numbers 11:1-15

                         III. God’s Solutions      Numbers 11:16-35

                         IV. Complaints Against Moses      Numbers 12:1-16

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     Once the Tabernacle was set up and dedicated, God’s cloud of fire covered it [see Ex. 40:34]. When it lifted, they moved. When it stayed, they stayed. God is in complete control of their journey. Moses is told to make two silver trumpets for signaling all Israel to assemble [1 trumpet], Israel’s leaders to assemble [2 trumpets] and to commence traveling [1 blast]. Different signals were used for different situations and most likely the trumpets sounded differently in that different tones signaled different actions. One month plus one week after celebrating the Passover [so the unclean would also be through celebrating], the Lord’s cloud lifted and Israel set out in an orderly fashion. The Gershonites and the Merarites followed the first three tribes and the Kohathites followed the second three tribes. Moses asked his father-in-law to come with them but he preferred to go back home.

     Moses composes two prayers; a request for the Lord to lead them when they break camp and a prayer asking the Lord to dwell among them when they stop. The Lord’s presence is both assuring and comforting when walking and working in faith.

     After 3 days the Israelites complained and the Lord killed some outside the camp with His fire. Perhaps these were families that decided to head back to Egypt. The Israelites have grown tired of manna and wish for meat and vegetables so they begin complaining to Moses and wishing they were back in Egypt. Moses is frustrated and asks the Lord for help and even asks to be relieved from his duties if there is not a solution available. The leaders are summoned to the Tabernacle where God promises to share His Spirit with them so as to take some stress away from Moses. The people are asked to consecrate themselves and come to the Tabernacle where Moses proceeds to tell Israel they will have meat. God’s Spirit comes on the leaders temporarily and they begin prophesying. God’s Spirit even comes upon the two elders who stayed at home. Moses definitely has people who are leaders that he can count on for help. Later a wind arises and quail abound. But God is angry with them and sends a plague among them as a means of disciplinary punishment.

     Next Miriam and Aaron become jealous of Moses and his personal conversations with God. They see God’s Spirit upon Moses and now on the elders and they feel left out. God calls Miriam and Aaron to Him along with Moses and explains that He speaks in dreams and visions to prophets but speaks to Moses face to face because of his faith. God leaves and Miriam is leprous. Aaron asks Moses to intercede to the Lord for their sin which he does. Miriam is placed outside the camp for 7 days where they were staying [Hazaroth]. After 7 days, Israel left for the Desert of Paran.

Lessons/Applications:

1. Just as God was in complete control of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land, He is in complete control of our journey toward heaven and eternal life with Him. Ignoring God will lead to disaster. Following God will lead to inheriting His riches [see Eph. 1].

2. God is sovereign over all the details of life so let Him lead [see Acts 17:26-28]. When and where God leads, be sure to follow. Listen for His trumpets [voice]. If you don’t hear them, perhaps you have moved. Then seek the Lord so He will be found [Is. 55:6; Prov. 8:17; II Chron. 15:2, Jer. 29:13].

3. Always ask the Lord to lead you and to be with you when moving to a new location, a new job, a new ministry, a new endeavor, etc.

4. God is the Creator of life, your life. God has redeemed us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Complaining to one’s Master is not a good idea. Instead, ask questions and seek to understand your circumstances. Before registering a complaint, list all your benefits so you will have a unbiased and unselfish perspective. Positives usually outweigh negatives. Rejoice in your blessings.

5. Those dedicated to the Lord are blessed with His Presence in order to encourage and support those who become discouraged. Seek the Lord and encourage one another.

6. Be careful what you ask for. God may give to you abundantly.

7. God disciplines those He loves [Heb. 12:5-11]. Learn from it.

8. Respect God’s chosen leaders and do not envy or covet their responsibilities or their gifts/talents. Each of us have been given special gifts so we can be of benefit to others. Concentrate on knowing your gifts and utilizing them to the fullest to bring Glory to God. And rejoice in the gifts of others. See I Cor. 12 and Romans 12:6-8.

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