Bible Commentaries
Numbers 11

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-35

  1. INTRO:
    1. Illustration: A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first 10 yrs his superior called him in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?” The monk replied, “Food bad.” - After another 10 years the monk again had opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, “Bed hard.” - Another 10 years went by and again he was called in before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he responded, “I quit.” “It doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here.”
      1. This is a chapter of complaining! [Keep in mind...only 3 days into journey!]
        1. Moses realized that many of the people didn’t share his delight in what the Lord was doing for them!
      2. Spurgeon said, “The gift of grumbling is largely dispensed among those who have no other talents.”
    2. Outline: Complaints against Bread! - Complaints against Burdens! - Complaints against Blessings!
    2. COMPLAINING! (1-3)
    3. Complaining or grumbling was evidence of the unbelief that would keep them out of the promise land.
      1. Let’s learn how to be Grateful for God’s Goodness, & Governable to God’s Guidance.
    4. Moses prayed, fired stopped!
      1. This incident made such an impact on them they named the place “Burning”.
      2. But...amazingly, it didn’t make enough of an impact to stop the complaining!
    5. MEAT CRAVING! (4-9)
    6. Mixed multitude (rabble) - Non-Israelites who left Egypt with Israel in the Exodus.
      1. Complaining is a communicable disease! - the Israelites joined in.
    7. George MacDonald, “The slaves of sin rarely grumble at that slavery; it is slavery to God they grumble at.”
    8. (5) Ate freely in Egypt - Freely? It only cost them the lives of their baby boys, who were thrown into the Nile by Pharaoh's servants; - the lives of their husbands & brothers, who collapsed under the whips of the taskmaster’s!
      1. Can you imagine preferring slavery & oppression to bread from heaven?
    9. What were they complaining about? The Menu; they were tired of Manna!
      1. Blandness compared to the spicy food of Egypt.
      2. Never mind that manna was God’s miraculous, daily provision for them. Never mind that it kept them alive in the desert, where there were no fish or animals, & few edible plants growing. Never mind that it was delivered to their camp fresh daily every morning.
    10. It just seems natural...when our religious life is low, we tire of angel’s food & our hearts turn back to the world from which we came! [Egypt’s table consisted of 6 dishes; Canaan 7; Dt.8:8]
    13. Moses was displeased at the self-pity bawling he heard out of every tent!
    14. Moses did what we must do when people disappoint us: he took it to God in prayer & told God just how he felt.
    15. (11) Why have You afflicted Your servant? - Be honest, we’ve all asked this!
      1. Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith.
      2. If our faith is worth anything, it will stand the test.
        1. Gold paint is afraid of the fire, but gold is not!
        2. Costume jewelry dreads the diamond wheel, but a true jewel fears no test.
      3. We’d never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; Nor enjoy the juice of the grape, if it were not trodden in the winepress; Nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed & beaten Nor feel the warmth of the fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. [Spurg]
      4. Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him! Job 13:15
    16. JEHOVAH JIREH? (16-25)
    17. The Lord tended to His weary servant before addressing the ingratitude of the people.
    18. How important for all leaders to have the Spirit be upon them to rightly lead His people!
    19. (21-23) At first Moses couldn’t fathom how God could supply meat to everyone in the middle of the desert. A table in the wilderness of this magnitude?
      1. Ps.78:17,18 they tested God in their heart By asking for the food of their fancy. Yes, they spoke against God: They said, Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
      2. But does the Creator expect the creature to fulfill His promise for Him?
        1. No, He who makes the promise ever fulfills it by His own unaided omnipotence(Sp)
      3. God responds, “Is the Lord’s power limited?”
    21. THE UNORDAINED! (26-30)
    22. Remember at this time in Israel’s history, Moses was the only prophet among the people.
      1. When the 70 elders prophesied, Moses lost part of his unique status.
      2. The change was a great relief to Moses, but not to his aide, Joshua.
        1. In his eyes, those 2 elders prophesying in the camp represented a challenge to Moses leadership.
      3. But Moses looked on God’s activity in the lives of others with Joy rather than Jealousy & was grateful for the mercy God had shown them.
    23. James & John made a similar mistake, & Jesus had to rebuke them, Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.” Lk.9:49,50
    24. These are the unordained, the laity that God uses, the simple disciples!
    25. KNEE-DEEP IN BIRDS! (31-35)
    26. God’s mercy, however, was tempered w/judgment when it came to the complainers.
      1. You want meat...I’ll give you meat!
      2. Wind-borne quail blew in from the sea. A 36 hour quail bash!
    27. While the meat was still in their teeth - i.e. Before it was chewed.1. A plague hit the people who rejected Yahweh.
    28. Here a principle emerges which is of perpetual application & importance!
      1. There are times when God grants an unwarranted request, in order that men may learn through experience the folly of their desires.
        1. We as parents have done the same to teach our children an important lesson.
        2. We may get what we wanted, but it doesn’t satisfy.
      2. The Psalmist speaks to this in Ps.106:15 (read)
        1. Is.10:16 Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts, Will send leanness among his fat ones (not a diet verse!) [He will send a wasting disease amongst His warriors! NASB]
    29. Kibroth Hattaavah [הָוֲאַּתַה ]תוֹרְבִק-gravesof craving; graves of lust!
      1. ​​​​​​​How many a man/woman have been buried here?
      2. 1 Cor.10:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
      3. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish Gal5:17
    30. God met the need; encouraged His servants; & punished the rebels.
    31. Every age is full of complaints:
      1. Hey, we have a lot to complain about today: bail-outs & bank loans; big-government. - But what time period didn't? (Wars, diseases/plagues)
      2. Like Solomon said, Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not inquire wisely concerning this. Eccl.7:10
        1. It has been said, “The good old days are the combination of a bad memory & a good imagination!”
      3. The winter is not w/o cold, nor the summer w/o heat.
      4. When we’re young we feel the confinement of school; teen years we feel the restraint of father’s house; we long to be on our own, to make our own way.
        1. But show me the man/woman who hasn’t said, “Oh, to be young again!” “Oh, if it was like when I was growing up!”
        2. Don’t live in the past, decide to live for today!
      5. Phil.2:14,15 Do all things without complaining(grumbling) and disputing(arguing), that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
        1. (Message) Do everything readily and cheerfully - no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Numbers 11". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.