The first time I read through the Old Testament, there were a lot of chapters that left me wondering how I was supposed to apply what I learned in a genealogy, or a military census to my life that day. However, sometimes I would run across a portion of Scripture in the Old Testament that surprised me at how easy to was to make that connection. Numbers 11 was one of those. These are some thoughts from my journal about this text:
- The Israelites focused on their present troubles rather than the promised land ahead. This made them discontent, short-sighted, ungrateful, and miserable. (v. 4-6)
“…the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!”
Application: It’s not hard to see a connection between the Israelites’ tendencies and our own. A few verses later, Moses says, “Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers?” (Numbers 11:12) (Translation: These people are acting like babies!) All of us occasionally dip back into the waters of spiritual infancy. Reminding our souls that any trouble here on earth, compared to eternity with God, is “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 4:17) will help us realize the greatness of what we’re heading toward and the shortness of this life with all its suffering (James 4:14).
- God has a sense of humor, but is very serious at the same time. (v. 18-20)
“You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you…”
I had to laugh when I read this, because it’s funny. God is funny (Psalm 2:4, Psalm 37:13). After all, humor was a part of his creation. In fact, sometimes God uses funny scenarios, such as a talking donkey (Numbers 22) or rubbing spit in a blind man’s eye (John 9:11) to get across a very serious point. But, that doesn’t mean that he is not very serious. He is serious, but he knows how to communicate His point in a creative way.
Emotional depth is important. The Bible demands we hold a lot of emotions at the same time. Think about Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. The sovereign God who knows the end–and importance– of all matters…weeps. Not only that, but Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Rejoice? While weeping? Yes.
- 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 on them!” (Numbers 11:29)
God would say through Ezekiel many years later, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:27)
Even more years later, God would pour out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost on all his people. (Acts 2)
The Holy Spirit is such a gift from God.
- Sometimes God answers prayers– as discipline. (v. 31-34)
“While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague.”
God gave them what they wanted, but as discipline.
What is it you are asking God for that, if he gave it to you, would not be a blessing but discipline for your selfish requests? God answering someones desires or requests doesn’t always equate to his favor on them. It could be his wrath (Romans 1:24) or his loving discipline on his children (Hebrews 12:6).