Lesson 2

Restless and Rebellious

(Numbers 11-14)
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Introduction: Self-examination is sometimes painful. I’ve been a rebel in the past and you may have been one too. Aging may have something to do overcoming a rebellious attitude because young people seem especially attracted to rebellion. The Bible shows us that rebellion is a very old problem. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1.         We Need The Meat!

  1.         Read Numbers 11:4. Who are “the rabble?” (This is also called the “mixed multitude.” These are people of various nations, not Israelites, who decided to leave Egypt with God’s people.)

  1.         What does this fact about leaving suggest about the mixed multitude? (Either they were very impressed with the God of Israel, or their lives in Egypt were not going well, they hoped for a better future, and they decided to join in this new adventure.)

  1.         What impact does the rabble have on God’s people? (They appear to lead in the discontent over the food.)

  1.         Does the rabble today create discontent among God’s people? Is the influence of pagans still a problem?

  1.         Is there a connection between complaining and a failure to believe in God? (I just watched a documentary on the Netherlands. It reported that the people were not religious and they complained a lot. This was a pro-Netherlands documentary.)

  1.         Read Numbers 11:5-6. What is wrong with the food? (It is not what they were used to eating in Egypt.)

  1.         Can you sympathize with this complaint? (If your diet has changed, you have a hunger for what you used to eat. Thus, this complaint has some superficial appeal.)

  1.         These days some of the loudest complaining comes from those who also argue that we should not apply logic to their complaints. We never leave logic behind in these studies, so let’s apply it. What is part of the appeal of the fish in Egypt? (You could catch them and eat them for free!)

  1.         How about the foods that were side dishes to the fish, were they free too? (Apparently not, or they would have said so.)

  1.         How much did the people pay for Manna? ( Exodus 16:15 tells us that God gave it to them.)

  1.         What does this do to the argument that the fish were free? (It shows that cost is not the complaint.)

  1.         Look again at Numbers 11:6. Do the complaints include exaggerations? (I’m certain their strength is not “dried up.”)

  1.         Is this a current problem about complainers? Does some of the complaining create sympathy, but the complaints are mixed with lies?

  1.         Let’s skip down and read Numbers 11:10. Are the complainers serious? Do they think they are exaggerating? (They feel so badly for themselves and their current abuse arising from diet that they are crying.)

  1.         Is there a lesson for us today in this? (Yes! Rebels have their own “truth.”)

  1.         How does God react to this? (He is angry!)

  1.         How would you defend God’s anger? (These are totally ungrateful people. They were rescued from slavery. They are given free food by God, and they complain about it!)

  1.         Rebellion Infects Moses?

  1.         Read Numbers 11:11 and Numbers 11:14-15. How do you react to Moses’ complaint? Is this justified or is he no better than the people he is leading?

  1.         Read Numbers 11:16-17. How does God react to Moses’ complaint? (He gives him relief. He shares the load.)

  1.         Look at the language that God will “take some of the Spirit” from Moses and “put” it on his new helpers.  First, what is this “Spirit?” (I think this is the Holy Spirit. Certainly, it is a reference to the power of God.)

  1.         Would you trade human help for God’s help? (God gave Moses what he requested. But, I think this is a bad trade. If Moses lost some of his Spiritual power, he made a mistake in his request.)

  1.         Read Numbers 11:18-20. Is this the answer to the complaints of the people?

  1.         What role do Moses’ 70 new helpers play in this answer to the complaint? (They play no role. Moses did not need them to respond to this complaint.)

  1.         Read Numbers 11:21-22. What does Moses’ answer display? (A lack of faith in God. We see that Moses needed all of God’s available Spirit. Moses somehow assumes that he has to do this on his own. He discounts the power of God.)

  1.         Read Numbers 11:23. How does God view Moses’ response? (God specifically says that Moses failed to trust in the power of God. God has a rebellion problem from bottom to top.)

  1.         Rebellion Infects Leadership?

  1.         Read Numbers 12:1-2. Let’s look to logic again. Does the race of Moses’ wife have any logical connection to the complaint of Aaron and Miriam? (It might. Look at Amos 9:7. The Cushite reference indicates a people not favored by God. Aaron and Miriam were part of God’s chosen people, while Moses had become one with a person not chosen. This suggests that they thought they were superior vessels for God’s Spirit.)

  1.         Notice that this comes right after Moses has part of God’s spirit taken from him and given to the 70. Does this create a problem with Aaron and Miriam? (Yes! The Lord will not only speak through the three of them, there are now 70 additional speakers.)

  1.         Read Numbers 12:3. Why is this comment here? (It says that Moses was not going to do anything about this rebellion.)

  1.         Read Numbers 12:5-9.  Wait a minute! Didn’t Moses just let God down by demanding human help? Didn’t Moses just fail to trust God by saying that he did not know how to obtain all of this meat?

  1.         Why should God be angry about the complaining (the rebellion) of the rabble, the people, Aaron, and Miriam, and not be angry with Moses? (Because it is not rebellion to complain to God. It is rebellion to complain to others about God.)

  1.         Rebellion and the Spies.

  1.         Read Numbers 13:1-2. Since God is “giving” Canaan to the people of Israel, why send out spies? And, why send one spy from each tribe?

  1.         Let’s read the spies’ report found in Numbers 13:27-31. Does the negative report remind you of something? (Like Moses and the quest for meat, the spies left God out of the equation.)

  1.         Is it rebellion to leave God out of the answer to our challenges?

  1.         Read Numbers 14:6-10. How do you explain that “all” the Israelites wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb (and perhaps Moses and Aaron)?   What have they done that is wrong? (Their error was to encourage trust in God. They specifically encouraged reliance on God.)

  1.         Let’s look at this a moment. The people are afraid to attack the Canaanites. They cannot attack God. How does it make any sense to attack each other - and specifically those who urge trust in God?

  1.         In the United States we are in the middle of something called “cancel culture.”  If you say something I don’t like, I try to get you fired from your job or your profession. Is this the same spirit as we see in Numbers 14, or is it different in important ways?

  1.         Should we expect that if we encourage trust in God, that other Christians will attack us?

                                                

  1.         Read Numbers 14:11. How does God view our failure to trust Him?

  1.         Read Numbers 14:21-24. Disobedience to God naturally brings bad results. This story shows that disobedience goes further. Sometimes God actively intervenes when we rebel against and despise Him. Do you agree?

  1.         What level of distrust and rebellion is involved here? I’ve struggled with fear in some cases that I’ve litigated. The pressure is far above any ordinary public speaking. Is that despising God?

  1.         Friend, our goal is to be like Caleb. While we may have trouble at times calming our fears, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to keep our focus on God and not on our human abilities. Will you make that your goal?

  1.         Next week: The Roots of Restlessness.

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