Battling Discouragement & Opposition

Discovery for Teachers

Battling Discouragement & Opposition



Numbers 11:1 through 12:16

“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.


  1. What was the focus of the Children of Israel when they asked for meat? (Numbers 11:4) Describe the provision they already had been given.

    Your group should conclude that the Children of Israel were focused on their wants. They had food from Heaven; that food came in a daily supply; it was adaptable in how it could be used; and there was no need to store or preserve it.
  2. Name at least three outcomes that can happen to us if we focus on what we do not have rather than on what we do have.

    Class responses will vary, but the point should be made that if our focus is on our wants, we probably will become dissatisfied and complain. Continuing in this attitude can cause irritability, impatience, and even bitterness. Your class could give other results of a self-centered perspective.
  3. It may be easy to murmur and complain when things do not go our way. How can we keep a right perspective when faced with circumstances that may be unpleasant?

    On a board, list your class’s suggestions on how to keep a thankful attitude. Possibly their comments could include making a list of our blessings; if you start to complain, stop and say thanks instead; appreciate the small blessings in your life.
  4. Why would a murmuring or complaining Christian be ineffective at winning the lost to Christ?

    Class discussion of this question should bring out that our own goodness is not what will win others to Christ, but rather our joy and peace. Regardless of what a complainer feels inside, he does not radiate much joy and peace to a lost world.
  5. God responded to Israel’s complaint by sending quail that flew about three feet above the ground so they were easily caught (Numbers 11:31). Scripture is clear that everyone took many, since the ten homers referred to in the text equaled about sixty bushels. But then God sent punishment upon Israel. (Numbers 11:31-33) Will He punish us today if we lust after worldly things? How?

    If we do not keep our desires under God’s control, they will lead us astray. Psalm 106:15 says that God gave Israel their request but sent leanness into their soul. The same could happen to us. Other possible references could include Luke 21:34; Colossians 3:2; and 1 John 2:15.
  6. Numbers 11:10-15 reflects Moses’ frustration and weariness with his responsibilities in governing Israel. Do you think our church leaders ever become weary like Moses did? If so, what might we do to help prevent that?

    Our church leaders are human and subject to the same frailties and feelings as Moses and everyone else. The how-to-help suggestions from your class may include: pray for them, do not criticize them, say Amen when they preach, do what you are asked to do, and go to the prayer room before services.
  7. Chapter 12 tells of a series of actions that God took when Miriam and Aaron complained against Moses. List each action by the noted verses.

    God’s actions were as follows:
    •Verse 2: He heard what Aaron and Miriam said.
    •Verse 4: He spoke suddenly, giving precise directions.
    •Verse 5: He came and stood in the door of the Tabernacle.
    •Verse 5 again: He called for Aaron and Miriam.
    •Verses 6-8: He defended Moses and reprimanded Aaron and Miriam.
    •Verses 9-10: He departed the camp, as indicated by the cloud moving off the Tabernacle.
    •Verse 10 again: He sent punishment: Miriam became leprous.
  8. Why do you think God was so angry with Aaron and Miriam? What application might God’s anger have for our day?

    God was angry because Moses was the leader He had ordained and anointed. Aaron and Miriam knew that. God expected His people to obey and follow Moses. This was especially true of Aaron and Miriam, who were also in leadership positions under him. Our leaders today are also ordained and anointed by God. He wants us to respect them and their positions of leadership. He also expects them to honor their standing and their calling before God. Your class discussion could include how we can show respect.


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?