About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Chapter 11 plus introduction to Numbers
Commentary On the Book Of Numbers
commentary is based on the 1984 edition of the New International Bible.
All section titles are taken from the NIV Bible to make for easy
will only comment on the history chapters in this commentary.
I will not comment on the chapters concerning the Law of Moses.
all conservative Bible scholars state that Moses wrote the book of
Numbers, although most likely edited by someone else later on.
Many people suggest that Ezra who was both a scribe and a
prophet, could have been the editor.
book of Numbers was not written in any specific chronological order.
It's a compilation of different
aspects of the Law of Moses and some history of
verses 1 through 3 of chapter 11 we see that God gets angry.
In today's world, many people don't really believe that God can
be angry. They see Him being
loving and tolerant of all we do. Some
say that the God we see in the Old Testament has changed when it comes
to the New Testament. That's
not true. There are a number
of places in the New Testament where we see God being angry.
The book of Revelation is full of the wrath of God.
Even in the book of Acts, where we see lots of power and love
from God, we see God killing Ananias and Sapphira for their deceptive
way of living. (Acts 5)
this point I will make the distinction between anger and wrath.
This is especially seen in the New Testament.
Anger is anger as you and I would know it.
Wrath is not anger. Wrath
is uncontrolled anger. In
the book of Revelation, God pours out His wrath on the nations of the
world. Wrath is actually an
explosion of anger from God's heart.
Anger is controllable, but when God's anger can no longer be
controlled it explodes into wrath. You
might wonder how could God not control His anger?
Well, He is long suffering. He
puts up with a lot from us, and more than we think, but the time does
come when God can no longer put up with us, and at that point His anger
explodes. At that point,
God's anger becomes God's wrath.
was complaining that their
life was not as nice as they wanted.
It is clear that God does not like His people complaining.
He certainly did not like Israel
complaining, and so He sent fire into their midst and burned the fringe
area of their camp.
believe the reason why God does not like complaining is because it shows
a lack of trust on the part of the complainer.
If the one complaining really trusted God for His life, then I
don't believe he would complain, because He would know His Lord is in
charge. If we really trust
God, we will rest in Him and take in stride what comes our way.
verses 4 to 6 we see Israel
complaining again. This time
it is over food. The Lord
had been providing manna for these people in a miraculous way, but they
wanted meat and other food. They
were getting tired of God's miracle manna.
I can understand why people would get tired of eating the same
food every day. You and I
would get tired of that too. That
being said, again, this does show a lack of trust in God.
If God wants you to eat just manna, you obey and you don't
complain. Not liking God's
provision is one thing, but complaining is taking a step beyond not
bad part of
do the same today. When
things get tough, we look back to the past.
Many times our past is not really good, but the present
distresses or dissatisfaction distorts our thinking so we forget what
the past was really like. We
thus have an unrealistic view of the passed based on our present
situation. Again, it all
comes down to a lack of trust in our God for the situation we find
verse 4 we see the word "rabble".
These were the complainers. Some Bible teachers say that these
were the non-Jews who lived among the Jews.
That may be debatable.
often wonder what his manna was like.
Here in verse 7 we have a bit of a hint to what it was like.
The text says that it was like "coriander seeds."
Coriander seed comes from a carrot like plant.
It had a very nice smell to it, and would have been used much
like sesame or poppy seeds are used today.
Verse 7 says it looked like resin, which is gum like droplets.
verses 8 through 10 we see what
11 shows us how these people were complaining.
They were actually wailing at the front of their tents.
Their complaining was more than words.
They were quite upset, and the Lord got upset with them for
wailing. Again, the Lord God
is not happy with our complaining. I
really don't think we understand this truth.
verses 11 to 15 we see how depressed Moses has become.
He feels like He is a parent to the Israelis, and at this point
there were a couple million of them, all wailing and complaining.
Moses could no longer take it.
He asks God a number of questions.
He wondered what he did wrong to inherit such a job.
Moses was so depressed that he asked God to kill him.
great apostle Paul felt the same way at times.
If you read 2 Corinthians you will see how depressed he was at
times. At one point he
wanted to die as well.
Moses and Paul demonstrate the fact that doing God's will, performing
the job He has for us, is not always easy, and sometimes it's extremely
hard. We often think that
when things get rough, we must be out of God's will.
That's how Moses felt here, but that isn't always true.
Moses was in the place where
God wanted him. It was just
a very hard place. The same
goes true for us. Just
because we are in God's will does not mean all things will go well for
us. Some people measure the
success of their ministry by how well things are going for them, or how
big their church is, or how popular they are.
All these things do not measure success in the eyes of the Lord.
Life is not always easy in this present age. Measuring
success in this way is the way the world measures success.
Copying the world is not New Testament thinking, but much of the
church does just that.
verse 16 God tells Moses to bring Him seventy of Israel's best elders. It is
uncertain to me if
17 tells us what God's plan was when the seventy elders came before the
Lord. The verse says that
God would take the Spirit that was on Moses and give Him to the seventy
elders so Moses would not have to shoulder the burden alone.
I don't believe God was taking the Holy Spirit from Moses and
giving Him to the elders. I
think the text means, although it doesn't say it clearly, that the same
Spirit of God that was on Moses would now be on the seventy elders.
the Spirit of God was "on" Moses, not "in" him.
The Holy Spirit only came to live in people on the Day of
Pentecost and after, thus one of the main differences between the Old
and New Testament.
thing to note concerns the idea that Moses is a type of Jesus.
You will note in Acts 2 that the Holy Spirit was given by Jesus
to the one hundred and twenty people in the upper room.
The Holy Spirit came from both Moses and Jesus and was given to
verses 18 to 20 we see that God concedes to Israel's complaining. He gives
them meat to eat. He will
give them so much meat that as He says, "it will come out of their
course that is just a idiom, a figure of speech.
We would say today, "they will eat the meat until it comes
out of their ears". The
point here is that if meat is what Israel
wants, meat they will get until they get sick of it.
God will do this at times to His people who complain.
Psalms 106:15 says
that God gave them the desire of their heart but added leanness to their
souls. If we complain long
enough, God might just give us what we want, but in the long run we will
suffer. Our souls will be
what verse 20 says. It is important.
It shows us how God feels about his people complaining.
He says that because Israel
"rejected" Him, He will give them what they want.
God interpreted their complaint as "rejection".
You ask, "why?" As
I've said before, when we complain, we are not trusting God.
We are not trusting that the place where He has put us is good
for us. God interprets this
lack of trust as rejection. This
is something we all need to understand, and I really mean understand,
because we as the church, or we as individuals, are not any different
verses 21 and 22 Moses replies. It
sounds a bit complicated in the NIV, but I believe Moses is simply
asking, "why can't the men just kill some livestock for meat?"
Killing their livestock while on the move in the wilderness was
probably not possible. They
would not have had things set up to kill, clean, and dispose of the
parts of the animals that were left over.
That could only take place in a situation where they were settled
into a farm-life situation.
verse 23 the Lord answered Moses by saying, is my "arm too
short." I believe the
Lord was implying that He could do miracles and help Israel. Moses was being practical
by saying they could just kill some cattle for meat.
God said that He wanted to miraculously give them the food to
eat. This might well be the
reason why Israel
was not killing animals for meat. God
then tells Moses to just wait and see what He would do.
Again, this is a matter of trust.
actually trust their God?
might remember that when
verses 24 and 25 we see that Moses called seventy of the elders
together. The NIV suggests
that Moses called seventy of more than seventy elders.
This is not the first time that the NIV has put it this way.
The question is thus asked, "did Israel
have seventy elders, or did they have more than seventy?"
I can't answer this question for sure.
I do know that centuries later when the Sanhedrin came into
existence, there were seventy men in the Sanhedrin. It
does appear though that the ordaining of these seventy elders is the
beginning of the tradition of
the seventy elders were gathered, the Holy Spirit came on them and they
prophesied. You see this a
lot in the New Testament. When
the Holy Spirit comes on people, things happen.
In the New Testament, people spoke in tongues, they prophesied,
they performed miracles, buildings shook, and many other things
happened. This tells us, even in Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit
was vital in doing God's will.
will see that in verses 26 and 27 that two elders did not join with
Moses at the tent of the Meeting. Even
though they weren't there, the Holy Spirit came on them and they also
prophesied. It is obvious
that the Lord wanted all the elders to experience this outpouring of the
Holy Spirit. No elder should
these two men weren't part of the rest of the elders, Joshua, in verse
28, asked Moses to tell them
to stop prophesying. I guess
he felt they were out of order.
the Holy Spirit coming on people, you will note that every place in the
Bible where this happened, something dramatic happened.
In this case, the elders prophesied.
verse 29 Moses said that he wouldn't stop them and that he wished all of
here to the end of this chapter we note that God gave them quail, all
the quail they could eat and more.
verse 33 we see God was once again angry, or possibly still angry.
Because they wanted more food than what He had already provided,
he struck them with a plague that killed many of them.
The thing to note here is that God had already miraculously
don't know what this plague was, but my guess it had something to do
with the quail. Maybe they
were diseased birds that caused them to get sick.
might ask why God doesn't strike us with a plague. God does judge people
and nations today. Sometimes
it is obvious, and sometimes it isn't so obvious.
To the natural mind, you won't see the judgment.
Also, I believe the more God blesses us, and especially so with
miracles such as Israel experienced, when we reject his blessing, the worse the judgment will
be. God's judgment was
severe on Israel
because they had just experienced many powerful and miraculous things by
the hand of God, and now they reject Him by complaining and wanting
complaining which we see in this chapter, I have written the following
you ever wondered how the Lord feels when we complain?
Well, there's one little verse tucked away in part of the Bible
that most of us don't read. Sometimes
you discover some real gems of truth hidden in those hard to read
passages. Way back in
Numbers 11:20 God makes it clear how He feels about His people
Elohim, the God of Israel, supernaturally delivered
we complain, we demonstrate discontent, which I think shows a lack of
trust in the Lord Jesus. If
we trusted Jesus more, we'd be more content, and complain less.
The apostle Paul learned to be content in every situation,
whether good or bad (Philippians 4:11).
If anyone had reason to complain it would have been Paul.
He spent lots of time in prison.
He experienced ship wrecks, a stoning, famine, and much more.
He never complained
about what came his way because no matter what happened to him, he had
trusted his life with Jesus. If
we trusted Jesus for the thing we complain about, I don't think we'd
complain either. That's how
I think. The question is,
"how does God think about this"?
complained so much about not having meat to eat, God gave them all the
meat they could stuff into their mouths.
Here's how Numbers 11:18 – 20 reads.
"The Lord will give you meat ... until it comes out of your
nostrils … because you have rejected the Lord … and have wailed
(complained) before Him …" What
a picture. Meat coming out
of their nostrils.
Of course that is a figure of speech.
The thing to note here is how God felt about
tells us to "let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly"
(Colossians 3:16). If we let
Numbers 11:20 dwell in us richly, that should put a dint in our
complaining. Of course, you
have to read and study the Bible sufficiently enough to even know this
Scripture exists and how God thinks on this issue.