KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)
This week’s text centers around three complaints. Israel complained about their food and longed for meat; Moses poured out to God how weary and overwhelmed he felt; and Aaron and Miriam fretted against Moses’ leadership. God met two of Aaron and Miriam’s complaints with His judgment. In answer to Moses’ cry, however, He gave instruction for establishing a structure that helped reduce the stress of leadership, not only for Moses but also for succeeding leaders.
The Children of Israel had no reason to complain. God had performed many miracles for them in their recent past. He had punished the Egyptians with ten dreadful plagues, while protecting the Israelites in Goshen. Then He had liberated the Israelites from bondage and started them on their way toward the Promised Land. Along the way, He had taken them through the Red Sea on dry land. Then, as the army of Egypt foolishly pursued them, He had closed the sea over the pursuers.
In the wilderness, God had provided water as needed. God had solved the issue of food by miraculously sending a daily supply of manna without fail as they traveled in the wilderness. Yet at the time of today’s lesson, Israel complained that they were tired of manna and wanted meat. In response, God sent them meat as they wanted, but He sent punishment along with this. Many people died with the meat still in their mouths.
Moses himself had seen God work miracles and deliver the people. God had never failed, but the complaints of the people became a weariness to him. In mercy, God gave him seventy men to share his responsibilities.
Miriam and Aaron complained about Moses’ marriage. The true root of the complaint, however, was jealousy of Moses’ authority. God’s judgment was swift and evident, causing Aaron and Miriam to regret that they had ever complained.
Even though God answered Israel’s immediate grievance, He wanted them to see that complaining would eventually bring them problems and punishment. Sadly, they did not learn their lesson on this occasion, for the Bible tells of other times when they complained rather than having an attitude of gratitude. What perspective are we choosing for the situations that face us today?