Series: Thru the Bible
Message – 30 Ways to Cook Quail – Numbers 11-12
30 Ways to Cook Quail – Numbers 11-12
Because it’s been a few weeks and because of the abrupt nature of the beginning of chapter 11, I want to back up and remember where we left off.
At the end of chapter 10 Moses shows a prime example of his humility by asking Hobab his brother in law – (Zipporah’s brother and Jethro [or Reuel]’s son])to go with them.
Guzik says – Moses was a wise enough leader to know his limitations, and to know that he needed help.Instead of just saying, “well, God got us this far and He’ll see us through without Reuel” he knew God’s help often comes through men like Reuel.
Num 10:33-36, NKJV “(33) So they departed from the mountain of the LORD on a journey of three days; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them for the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. (34) And the cloud of the LORD was above them by day when they went out from the camp. (35) So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: “Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” (36) And when it rested, he said: “Return, O LORD, To the many thousands of Israel.”
Then we end the chapter with God’s continual presence being physically demonstrated to Israel as a permanent feature of their wilderness wanderings by the abiding cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
God would go before them in the cloud. As with everything God does, this was teaching those Israelites who had eyes to see and ears to hear that God desires to be among His people at all times. A teaching Jesus continued in the New Testament in His teachings about life and abiding.
NOW – the first words in chapter 11 demonstrate how we set the pace for our relationship with God. JUST like when God appeared on the mountain – and the Israelites drew back saying they wanted their relationship with God to be THROUGH Moses and NOT directly. James under the New Covenant points out the same “Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to you – only cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded”.
So here they begin their wilderness journey with complaining and the response they receive from God illustrates the nature of their relationship throughout their journey to the promised land.
Israelites did NOT have attitudes of gratitude – their continual belligerence and ungrateful response to God’s presence, provision and protection set them up for an antagonistic relation with God.
Num. 11:1-3, HCSB “(1) Now the people began complaining openly before the LORD about hardship. When the LORD heard, His anger burned, and the fire from the LORD blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. (2) Then the people cried out to Moses, and he prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. (3) So that place was named Taberah, because the LORD’s fire had blazed among them.”
Do you see the terms of their relationship with God is upheld.
- They complain
- God responds
- They go to MOSES
- Moses goes to God
- God responds again
Vs. 4 – As we’ve previously noted, this multitude was not all Israel – it was a MIXED multitude. Some were Egyptians who saw the power of the Jewish God and decided to leave Egypt with them – others were possibly slaves with the Israelites who decided to ‘get while the getting was good’… BUT notice who God hears and responds to…
Num. 11:4, “(4) Contemptible people among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, “Who will feed us meat?”
Num. 11:5-15, HCSB “(5) We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. (6) But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”
Now, this complaint is a common problem. When we as humans are disgruntled we have this annoying tendency to state our situation as worse than it truly is.
Here they are claiming that the food in Egypt was free – but what is that indirectly implying? Was God charging them for the food? NO!
“(7) The manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of bdellium. (8) The people walked around and gathered it. They ground it on a pair of grinding stones or crushed it in a mortar, then boiled it in a cooking pot and shaped it into cakes. It tasted like a pastry cooked with the finest oil. (9) When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.”
Not only were they ungrateful they were spiteful and THAT kicks it up a notch – so much so that now Moses begins to complain to God. Only Moses does the same thing as the Israelites – he sees this situation as his own personal problem which God has brought upon him. If you listen to Moses – you might just pick up a hint of Jonah’s attitude in his complaint to God.
(10) Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents. The LORD was very angry; Moses was also provoked. (11) So Moses asked the LORD, “Why have You brought such trouble on Your servant? Why are You angry with me, and why do You burden me with all these people? (12) Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers? (13) Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ (14) “I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. (15) If You are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now. If You are pleased with me, don’t let me see my misery any more.”
God answers Moses’ complaint:
Num. 11:16-30, HCSB “(16) The LORD answered Moses, “Bring Me 70 men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. (17) Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit Who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.
God answers Israel’s complaint and heart:
(18) “Tell the people: Purify yourselves in readiness for tomorrow, and you will eat meat because you cried before the LORD: ‘Who will feed us meat? We really had it good in Egypt.’ The LORD will give you meat and you will eat. (19) You will eat, not for one day, or two days, or five days, or 10 days, or 20 days, (20) but for a whole month–until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes nauseating to you–because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and cried to Him: ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'”
Moses questions God’s plan (and ability) & God answers him
(21) But Moses replied, “I’m in the middle of a people with 600,000 foot soldiers, yet You say, ‘I will give them meat, and they will eat for a month.’ (22) If flocks and herds were slaughtered for them, would they have enough? Or if all the fish in the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?”
(23) The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s power limited? You will see whether or not what I have promised will happen to you.”
THIS is what we ALL forget and it was THE thing which marked their journey to the Promised Land.
Now this does us absolutely NO good if we fail to learn from it and to learn from it we must first see ourselves in it!
1Cor.10:1-14, HCSB “(1) Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, (2) and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (3) They all ate the same spiritual food, (4) and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. (5) But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. (6) Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil as they did. (7) Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. (8) Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day 23,000 people fell dead. (9) Let us not tempt Christ as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. (10) Nor should we complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. (11) Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. (12) Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! (13) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it. (14) Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”
DON’T LIMIT GOD!
- Yeah but you don’t understand my husband…you don’t understand my wife – DON’T LIMIT GOD!
- But, you don’t know how bad it is – my washer & drier both broke, my car has a flat, my taxes came back saying I owed more, my rent was increased and my boss has reduced my hours – DON’T LIMIT GOD!
- Yeah but my friend told me that my car model ALWAYS has transmission problems when you reach 100,000 miles ….DON’T LIMIT GOD!
- But my doctor told me I’ll have to take these pills the rest of my life – DON’T LIMIT GOD!
What story did Jesus tell us concerning justice, provision and faith?
Luke 18:1-8, HCSB “(1) He then told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged: (2) “There was a judge in one town who didn’t fear God or respect man. (3) And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ (4) “For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, (5) yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.'” (6) Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. (7) Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? (8) I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?”
The world, the devil and your own mind will try to convince you the issues of life are really about YOU and YOUR ability to face them and be strong. Like I told you the other day, as Christians we often practice a form of practical gnosticism – sure God is here but….!
When Jesus painted this verbal picture for them NOTICE what He pointed to as the real issue – will you trust?!
(24) Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD.
He brought 70 men from the elders of the people and had them stand around the tent. (25) Then the LORD descended in the cloud and spoke to him.
He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they never did it again.
(26) Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them–they were among those listed, but had not gone out to the tent–and they prophesied in the camp. (27) A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
(28) Joshua son of Nun, assistant to Moses since his youth, responded, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
(29) But Moses asked him, “Are you jealous on my account? If only all the LORD’s people were prophets, and the LORD would place His Spirit on them.” (30) Then Moses returned to the camp along with the elders of Israel.”
This chapter is one of the rare jewels in scripture!
Now just so you remember the players in this chapter and their roles.
- Aaron was the High Priest and therefore represented the people before God and God before the people.
- Miriam was a Prophetess and therefore heard God on behalf of the people. – Exod. 15:20
- Moses was the Leader, Prophet, Shepherd of Israel as well as the Friend of God!
Some, it seems, just have to learn the hard way…
Next we learn another lesson.
- Even spiritual leaders like Aaron or Seers like Miriam are not exempt from petty sins like judging and devaluing.
- Just because you are a Prophet does not mean you see and know everything.
- Even prophet’s vision can get blurred or obstructed.
- Even those with great power are susceptible to wanting more.
Num. 12:1-16, HCSB “(1) Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman). (2) They said, “Does the LORD speak only through Moses? Does He not also speak through us?” And the LORD heard it. (3) Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth. (4) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out.”
Notice that this was not slander so much as simply running Moses down and questioning his authority TO HIS FACE.
Guzik says, They did not speak against Moses as the President of Israel as much as they spoke against Moses the Servant of God.
Moses was very humble: Other commentators suggest that humble is better understood as “low” or “miserable,” as this describes a low point in Moses’ life.
Clark says, “I think the word is not rightly understood; the word translated as meek or humble, comes from anah, to act upon, to humble, depress, afflict, and is translated so in many places in the Old Testament; and in this sense it should be understood here: ‘Now this man Moses was depressed or afflicted more than any man of that land.’
While this may be true, I still believe that the traditional understanding is to be preferred because it points out something about Moses which undoubtedly HAD to be true or his relationship with God would not have been such as it was. (God resists the proud but gives His influence to the humble.)
(5) Then the LORD descended in a pillar of cloud, stood at the entrance to the tent, and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them came forward, (6) He said:
“Listen to what I say: If there is a prophet among you from the LORD, I make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My household. (8) I speak with him directly, openly, and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”
A danger we have in Christ is to judge our siblings in Christ according to the flesh and nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than among family. Jesus said that “A prophet is not without honor except in his own home town, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” This has ALWAYS been true. The commissioned giftings of the Lord and His delegated authority is NOT always on those we would have chosen and many times has little to do with personal virtues or vices.
One day when I was reading about how Jesus, upon going to raise Jairus’ daughter and He only took Peter, James and John with Him. I then read from a commentator who suggested that while most people assume Jesus brought these long due to their being closest to Him and therefore more in faith, he believed that it was equally possible that Jesus brought them along because they required greater attention. Upon reflection I concluded that not either/or…but both were true!
Now have you ever had that unsettling silence…you know the one where you’ve just had a one sided discussion with a loved one where you knew you were in the wrong and they were angry and said what they had to say and then just left the room?!
Well, imagine that happening in a discussion with God!
God takes it personally!
(9) The LORD’s anger burned against them, and He left.
God makes no announcement nor apology – He just does what He’s going to do and lets the chips fall where they fall…(He is NOT safe…but He’s good)
(10) As the cloud moved away from the tent, Miriam’s skin suddenly became diseased, as white as snow. When Aaron turned toward her, he saw that she was diseased (11) and said to Moses, “My lord, please don’t hold against us this sin we have so foolishly committed. (12) Please don’t let her be like a dead baby whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.”
There is no stated reason for Miriam’s punishment and Aaron’s lack of the same, but there is some speculation.
(13) Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “God, please heal her!” (14) The LORD answered Moses, “If her father had merely spit in her face, wouldn’t she remain in disgrace for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; after that she may be brought back in.”
It is possible that Aaron’s guilt was not so much as a direct participant in the allegations against Moses as a much as guilty by silent association…and that is the more likely of the possibilities. Both Aaron and Miriam’s father were long dead, placing Miriam under the authority of her brother Aaron.
In the East at large – spitting in the presence of another was repugnant and was a sign of indignation and extreme displeasure…even more so if one were spat in the face.
So it is entirely likely that a Jewish reader would have understood this entire dialogue as clearly showing Miriam as guilty of character assassination through un-checked words of outrage and Aaron’s guilt was that of silence and not holding her back.
It is likely they both had discussed this privately before either would have mustered the initiative to voice it to Moses. So if Aaron had but just spat in her face upon first hearing her words of judgment – showing indignation and displeasure with them he might have spared her and all of Israel the 7 days of separation.
- A secondary aspect to Miriam’s guilt beyond that of Aaron’s was that as a woman she had committed the greater sin since hers was not just a questioning of authority it was assuming an authority which went beyond her gender.
It is also important to remember what I told you back when we were studying in Leviticus about skin diseases.
In the few cases where a reason for these diseases being contracted are given in scripture, it is always in response to challenging God’s delegated authority to man. Gehazi’s [Ga-haze-ah] disobeying his master Elisha; Uzziah challenged of the priests and burned incense in the tabernacle of meeting and of course this challenge of Miriam to Moses’ authority.
Also it is interesting is that while in other cultures “healing” of leprosy was attributed to their priests …in the Bible it is ALWAYS attributed to the intervention of prophets. Moses & Miriam were a prophets – while Aaron was the High Priest. In Jewish life, the priest examines and declares a person or object to be clean or unclean – the prophet declares “healing”…and so it is here as well.
Now, while the text does not specifically spell it out, it is evidently suggestive that Miriam was “healed” of the skin disease immediately, but that she still had to remain outside the camp for the designated period of 7 days following her time of impurity.
(15) So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was brought back in. (16) After that, the people set out from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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