Numbers 11:1-35


Chapter 11-14 records a progression of sin until God won't go with them into Canaan.

1.   11:1-3.

2.   11:4-35.

3.   12:1-16.

4.   13 & 14.


Verse 1-3 is the third complaint in a series that led to that generation dying in the wilderness.

1.       The first complaint is found in Exodus 14:10-12.

2.       The second complaint is found in Exodus 15:23-26.

3.       The third complaint is Numbers 11:1-3.

4.       The fourth complaint is Numbers 11:4-35.

5.       The fifth complaint is Numbers 12.

6.       The sixth complaint is Numbers 14 and 15.


I.    Verse 1-3 - The complaining.

A.  What were they complaining about?

1.      Nobody really knows.

2.      There is no reason to complain, God had given them many blessings.

3.      Like us, they complain because things aren't going the way they think they ought to go.

4.   God didn't punish the complainers of Ex. 14:10-12 (When Israel was at the Red Sea and Egypt was coming to destroy them).

5.   Ex. 15:23-26 - Complaining at the bitter water (Marah).  They were not punished.

6.      After God had given them many reasons to be thankful then they complained and God punished them.

B.   The Lord heard it.

1.      Judgment was without an opportunity to repent.

2.   God hears our secret complaints.  (and our secret prayers.)

C.   The fire.

1.      Judgment was without an opportunity to repent.

2.   the fire was like Abihu and Nadab were destroyed with.

D.  Only the complainers were destroyed.

1.      Moses prayed at their request and God stopped the fire.

2.      James 5:14,15 - The fulfilling of this verse.

E.   The name "Taberah" given to be a reminder to others that God judges complainers.

F.   The warning not received.

1.      Verse 4-9 - Others failed to see the plain evidences of God's judgments.

2.      They thought it wouldn't happen to them.

3.      They thought their complaint was justified.  (God didn't.)

4.      They thought they were different.

5.      Isn't this just like us today?  May God help us.  [1]


II.   Verse 4-9 - Lusting for food.  This is the second time this has happened.  See point # VI. for a comparison of the two events.

A.  Ex. 16:1-3 - They hadn't been gone from Egypt but one month.

1.   The food they brought with them began to fail.

2.      They couldn't see where the food would come from.

3.      This reminds me of us.  If we can't see, we can't believe.

4.   In verse 4 - God said He would rain bread from heaven.

B.   The time in Numbers 11 is probably one year later.

1.      Israel has been fed by God with manna for one year.

2.      Their trip into Canaan is about one year.

3.   The hardest part is behind them, but they don't look forward.

4.   It won't be long before they can have the best of the land of Canaan.  (The land flowing with milk and honey.)

5.   If we could only see that our time of trouble on this earth is almost over and we will soon partake of the best heaven has to offer.

6.      Because of this series of rebellious acts (Numbers 11, Numbers 12), Israel will soon journey in the wilderness for 40 years until all those rebels are dead.  (Numbers 13,14.)

7.      Rebellion against God doesn't come all at once, but a little at a time.

C.   The cause of rebellion.

1.      Verse 4 - An unbelief as to God's ability to supply our needs.

2.      Verse 5 - A looking backward, not looking forward by faith.

3.      Verse 6 - Tired of the blessings of God, or taking those blessings for granted.

D.  Who started the rebellion - the mixt multitude.

1.      Who is the mixt multitude?

2.      People, probably lost, who travel with Israel because of the promise of an easy life in Canaan.

3.      They do not expect any work or trouble.  They expect everything to be handed to them on a "silver platter".

4.      These are like a lot of people in our churches who will not work, but expect to be received as if they did work and also to receive the benefit of the work of others.

5.      These are the people with no faith, but walk by sight.

6.      These are the people who draw people out of God's service to follow them in their pernicious ways.

7.   See the scriptures: II Peter 2:1-3 - They deny the Lord that bought them and cause many to stumble and fall.

8.      Jude 4,5 - Ungodly people, crept in unawares, leading people to disbelief.

9.      Acts 20:26-31 - Paul says these deceivers will arise from the midst of the church, drawing disciples after them.

10.      Matt. 7:15 - Jesus said beware of men for many will appear as sheep, but inwardly they are raving wolves.

E.   The result of this "minor" rebellion.

1.      Leads to the death of people by eating quail.

2.      Leads to the death of people in the wilderness.

3.      Leads to great discouragement of the leaders of the people (verse 10-15 - Moses discouragement).


III. Verse 10-15 - Moses complaint to God.

A.  Moses is not wrong to complain.

1.      Some people complain for no reason, like the mixt-multitude.

2.   God never condemns Moses for this complaint.

3.      Verse 10 - God was greatly angered, Moses also was displeased.

a.   Moses was displeased after God was angry.

b.   We should hate those things God hates, and love those things God loves.

B.   The basis of Moses' complaint.

1.   God has greatly blessed the people in the past 1½ years.

a.   The 10 plagues upon Egypt and safely crossing the Red Sea.

b.   God has faithfully fed them.

c.   God has revealed Himself to them in the cloud and the pillar of fire.

2.      Moses has grown much in the Lord in the past 1½ years.

a.   Had seen the burning bush and received a commission from the Lord.

b.   Had seen God's work in Egypt and at Mt. Sinai.

c.   Moses had seen the hind parts of the Lord (Ex. 33:18-23).

3.      Because Moses had grown so much he expected the people had grown also.

4.      Moses discover of their spiritual immaturity caused him to be discouraged and totally dismayed.


IV. Verse 16-30 - God's answer to Moses is two fold.

A.  God gets Moses some help.

1.      Verse 16 - Moses chooses 70 men who are already leaders in Israel.

2.      Verse 17 - These people are unfit for leadership (regardless of their "charisma") until the Holy Spirit of God comes upon them.

3.      Verse 24-30 - When the Spirit of God comes, people will prophesy.

a.   I Sam. 10:6 - King Saul prophesied when the Spirit of the Lord came upon them.

b.   Acts 2 - On the day of Pentecost, the outward evidence of Holy Spirit filling is prophesying.

c.   "About Jesus Christ" - not only Holy Spirit filling, as modern Pentecostals boast.

d.   Verse 26-30 - We ought to desire that everybody prophesy, not just a select few.

B.   Verse 18-23 - God feeds the people.  (With what they want, not what He wants.)

1.      They were not to be fed with things they could see, but with the things they could not see - an exercise of faith for Moses.

2.   God shall give them what they want, but it shall be a plague unto them.  BEWARE!!  God might give us what we cry for!!

3.      Verse 21-23 - Moses disbelief.

a.   We are never so spiritually mature that we don't learn to depend upon the Lord.

b.   Our need i to trust the Lord, not what we see.


V.  Verse 31-35 - The combination blessing and judgment of the Lord.

A.  The wind - the Holy Spirit caused the 70 elders to prophesy and also brought the quails.

B.   From the sea - a true miracle.

1.      Didn't hatch them from eggs.

2.      Didn't gather quails from everywhere, thus causing some innocent people to be without quail meat.

C.   Let them fall - in God's providence.

1.      Around the camp for 24 miles.

2.      About 3 feed deep - not in the camp itself, else the small children would smother.

D.  Stood up - didn't bow knees in thanksgiving.

1.      One homer is 78 gallons.

2.   Ten homers is 780 gallons.

3.      They're doing it their way (like we do it our way).  God provides every day for that days needs.  Sinful mankind wants to prepare today for every other days needs.

E.            Kibrothhattaavah - "Graves of the longing".

1.   A plague upon those that lusted - not upon the innocent and only God can tell the difference.

2.      Lust is the breaking of the 10th commandment (Ex. 20:17).  The only commandment that is "internal".  All the others have external manifestations.

3.      Buried the guilty - All the other bodies were carried into the promised land to be buried there.


VI. Compare the two times God sent quails to Israel.

A.  The first time was in Exodus 16:13.

1.   At this time God didn't sent the quail as a judgment, but as a means of explaining to Israel that He could take excellent care of them.

2.      Israel did murmur against God and Moses and Aaron, but God is more interested in showing His mercy on them, rather than judgment.

B.   The next time is in this chapter, Numbers 11.

1.   At this time, God isn't interested in showing Israel mercy.

2.   He has already showed them mercy in Exodus 16.

3.   If my calculation of time is correct, Exodus 16 occurs approximately 1 year before Numbers 11.

4.      Israel didn't learn the lesson God intended them to learn one year previously, therefore God will judge them this time.

C.   This is an important lesson for us to learn.

1.   God doesn't hurt us when he wants to teach us how great He is.

2.      When we don't learn what He is able to take care of us, then He might hurt us so we can understand His absolute greatness.

[1] Preached to here 5/14/00 IBC Sunday Evening