Numbers 10-11

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 28, 1997

Introduction

The Israelites have been getting organized. Itís now been a year since theyíve been delivered from Egypt during the first Passover.

God is in the process of making them into a lean, mean, fighting machine.

They are just about ready to make their first, organized march.

Numbers 10

:1-10 Silver Trumpets

What were the trumpets?

trumpets - chatsotsrah - (an ancient) trumpet. Translated "trumpet" or "trumpets" 27 times in O.T. Pulpit Commentary: "From the testimony of Josephus, from the representation on the arch of Titus, and from a comparison of ancient Egyptian trumpets, it is clear that these trumpets were straight, long, and narrow, with an expanded mouth."

There is another word used for "trumpet", though not used here.

The sho-far. Translated "trumpet" or "trumpets" 65 times in O.T. This was a trumpet that was curved, shaped like, or even made from a ram's horn. This was thought to be the trumpet that was blown on the first of the seventh month, for the "Feast of Trumpets".

Who blew the trumpets?

This was one of the jobs of the priests (vs.8)

What was their purpose?

1. For Gathering

vs.2 - to "assemble" the congregation

vs.3 - "shall gather themselves"

I have always wondered if this isnít the idea behind the trumpet at the rapture, a "gathering" together of the saints Ė

(1 Th 4:16-17 KJV) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

2. For Warning

vs.2 - "for the journeying of the camps"

vs.5 - "blow an alarm"

vs.9 - "blow an alarm" Ė note that God says here the they might be "remembered" before Him when the trumpet blows, almost as if it gets Godís attention.

3. For Celebration

vs.10 - "in the day of your gladness Ö"

Lesson:

Clear Communication/Organization

Itís neat that the people have this pillar of cloud to help them know when they are to move on, but itís not a good idea for 2,000,000 people to get up and start moving at once.

The trumpets provided a clear call of when each group was to get up and head out.

Even in battle, itís nice when an army works in unison, and not every man for himself. Trumpets give that kind of unifying communication.

I think that in the church, this is one area we can certainly be growing in.

Itís important that the church know where weíre going as a whole. Itís important to know when special events are, to plan ahead, to plan an attack.

:11-28 First Organized Departure

:11 in the second year ...

On the second month, the twentieth, they set out.

Note how this fits in with the "delayed" Passover that was to be celebrated by those who were unclean during Passover on the first month of the year. It gave them a chance to celebrate the Passover, then depart.

Also, they have been camped at Sinai for almost a year, now they head out into the wilderness. In a sense, they will be training for the conquest of the Promised Land.

This is a full systems test, like the launching of the first space shuttle, or when the army does itís maneuvers out in the desert.

We've been studying plenty of chapters on how the Israelites were getting organized. Much of what we've studied in Numbers thus far has concerned this.

:14-28 The Order of March (summarize only)

First came Judah's group.

It included the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the sons of Gershon and Merari started out with their respective parts of the tabernacle.

Gershon took the cloth, Merari took the boards.

Then came Reuben's group.

It included Reuben, Simeon, and Gad.

Then the holy pieces of furniture from the tabernacle set out with the sons of Kohath.

The reason the tabernacle and its furniture traveled separately was so that by the time the furniture arrived, the tent would already be set up.Next was Ephraim's group.It included Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

Lastly was Dan's group.

It included Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.

This entire order was all spelled out back in chapters 2-4 of Numbers.

Lesson:

Get organized!

I really appreciate it when someone is in charge of something that they take the time to organize it properly, so that things happen smoother. The gift of administration.

:29-32 Moses entreats Hobab

Who is Hobab?

Hobab is the son of Reuel. Reuel was Moses' father-in-law. Hobab is Mosesí brother-in-law.

Moses wants him to come along

Moses thinks that Hobab will make a great guide in the wilderness, after all, it is his back yard.

Though it might look as if Hobab didnít go, based on Judges 4:11, we can deduce that he must have come along, because his descendants were blended in with the Israelites.

Lesson:

Ask advice from those who know the territory.

Thereís no need to re-invent the wheel.

We could certainly use their help, but they can certainly use the blessings that God is going to put on us.

Pr 11:14 Where no counsel [is], the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors [there is] safety.

:33-34 The first journey

:33 three days' journey

I always find it interesting to see how many things take three days in the Scripture.

I also wonder about this concept of a three daysí journey.

It was the length of journey that Moses asked Pharaoh to take the people on:

Ex 5:3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

It was the length of their first journey from the Red Sea:

Ex 15:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

And now theyíre going on another three hour (oops, three day) tour.

:33 the ark of the covenant of the Lord journeying in front of them.

Itís almost as if the Lord is the general over His troops, leading His troops into battle.

It seems that though the furniture of the tabernacle was in the middle of the army, the ark itself was out in front.

:35-36 Moses' moving song

A battle cry

It kind of seems like Moses is preparing the people for the battles up ahead, even though they won't be fighting for awhile.

The Jewish commentaries say that Moses used to speak this out every time the people set out to a new location.

Itís kind of a teaching rhyme, preparing the people for war, teaching them to depend upon God.

Numbers 11

Note: This chapter takes place after the first organized three day journey.

:1-9 Complaining

:4 mixt multitude

NASB Ė "rabble". The language suggests that these people were actually from the group of non-Israelites who went out from Egypt with the Israelites, hence the "mixt multitude"

:4 fell a lusting

"yielded to intense craving"

NIV Ė "began to crave other food"

:4 Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Aren't these legitimate complaints?

Could you imagine eating the same single food for every meal for a year! Wouldnít you complain?

Lesson:

Complaining versus faith.

What's wrong with complaining?

Complaining displays a lack of trust.

A few chapters from now (13-14), we'll study about the sending of the spies into the Promised Land. The bad report of the ten spies led the people to grumble and complain.

(Deu 1:26-33 NLT) "But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God and refused to go in. {27} You murmured and complained in your tents and said, 'The LORD must hate us, bringing us here from Egypt to be slaughtered by these Amorites. {28} How can we go on? Our scouts have demoralized us with their report. They say that the people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and that the walls of their towns rise high into the sky! They have even seen giants there--the descendants of Anak!' {29} "But I said to you, 'Don't be afraid! {30} The LORD your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. {31} And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you again and again here in the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.' {32} But even after all he did, you refused to trust the LORD your God, {33} who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day.

If you really believe that God loves you, that He has a wonderful plan for your life, that He is leading you and creating circumstances in your life to bring you into that promised plan (or, promised land), why should you ever complain about anything?

A lack of complaining proves who we belong to.

(Phil 2:14-15 NNAS) Do all things without grumbling or disputing; {15} so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

Illustration

A man decided to join a monastery and one of the rules of the group was that you were only allowed to speak two words every ten years. At the end of ten years he said, "Bad food!" Ten more years went by and he said, "Hard bed!" Finally, on his 30th anniversary with the brothers, he thundered, "I quit!" And the priest in charge responded, "You might as well. All you do is complain anyway."

:5 we remember Ö Egypt

Egypt is often a kind of picture of our old life, our life before meeting Jesus.

Itís a dangerous thing to look back fondly to those "good old days".

The danger is that we donít look back very truthfully. Though there were leeks and onions, there was also pain, slavery, hardship, and death.

:10-15 Moses complains about the people

:10 Moses was also displeased

If you've ever been a parent, or been in any kind of leadership, you know how Moses is feeling right now.

When you're in leadership, and the people you are leading start complaining, it sure makes you feel awful.

:14 because it is too heavy for me

NASB Ė "it is too burdensome for me"

There is a burden involved in ministry.

In describing the kinds of things an apostle went through, Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 11:27-29 NLT) I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. {28} Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. {29} Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

But if we aren't careful, the burden can begin to feel too great sometimes.

I think this usually happens because we have taken on more than God intends for us to do.

Sometimes you get to feeling like everything depends upon you. If thatís the way youíre feeling, then somethingís wrong. God designed you just to be one functioning part of a bigger, working organism, the Body of Christ.

:16-23 God promises relief

:16 Gather unto me seventy men Ö

Lesson:

The importance of delegation

Some people just naturally like to carry all the weight on their shoulders. They feel, "If the job's going to be done right, I'd better do it..."

That's okay if the job is a one-person-job, otherwise you face burn-out.

Learn to delegate. Learn to spread the responsibility out a little.

Lesson:

Youíll save some heartache if you learn your lessons the first time.

This is now the second time that Moses has been told to delegate out some of his responsibility.

Back in Exodus 18, Moses' father-in-law told Moses the same thing, with the issue of Moses sitting all day long as judge over the people.

Now it seems as if Moses hadnít completely learned to delegate as much as he should have.

Isn't it encouraging to know that even someone like Moses had to learn and relearn the same lesson more than once?

:17 I will take of the spirit which is upon thee

Itís not that God is going to take some of the spirit from Moses, but that God is going to take and give to the elders the same Holy Spirit that He has given to Moses.

:18-23 God promises relief

:20 out at your nostrils

Be careful what you ask God for, you just might get it! Theyíre going to get meat alright. Plenty of it.

It's important to realize that sometimes the very things we "crave" are only going to make us sick later on.

:21 six hundred thousand footmen

The number of 600,000 people referred only to the fighting men. It did not include women, children, and the elderly. More likely it was about 2,000,000 people altogether.

:23 Is the LORD'S hand waxed short?

NASB Ė "Is the Lord's power limited?"

How often do we forget this?

Our problem is often that we look at our problems from our human, finite perspective.

To Moses, it seemed humanly impossible to provide meat to eat for all these people.

We get depressed over our problems because we can't see any way out of them. After all, if we saw a way out, we wouldn't get depressed.

If I'm a 200 pound person, facing a 500 pound problem, that seems like a pretty hefty problem. Unless you have a 5 billion pound God.

We need to keep our focus on just who God is, and whether or not He's involved in our problems.

Lesson:

The importance of a correct theology.

Believe it or not, this is what "theology" is all about. It's the study of just who God is, and what His abilities are. "Doctrine" can actually be helpful!

If youíre having a hard time remembering just how great God is, spend some time meditating in Isaiah 40.

He is a great God, far bigger than any problem.

:24-25 The Spirit rests on the elders

:25 when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied

This phenomena happened other places:

(1 Sam 10:10 NLT) When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw the prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy.

These elders are experiencing what weíve seen in Acts 2, a kind of baptism of the Holy Spirit. And as a result, they begin to speak prophetically, speaking for God.

:25 and did not cease

It is better translated "did not add", or "did not repeat". It's not that they kept on unceasingly prophesying, but that they did it once and then stopped.

Apparently this was only a one time deal for these guys, a prophetic utterance to authenticate that God's Spirit was on them.

:26-30 Extra elders get Spirit too

:26 Eldad Ö Medad

For some crazy reason, I get the picture of these guys being some backwoods hick farmers from Arkansas or something! (which is not the case!)

:26 the spirit rested upon them

It's kind of like God is sending a message here: "I am not confined to only working in this measly old tent."

Lesson:

You can be filled with the Spirit anywhere.

You don't have to be in church to experience the fullness of the Spirit. You don't even have to go to a Calvary Chapel to be filled with the Spirit!

PSA 139:7-10 Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.

:28 Joshua... forbid them

God bless Joshua, he doesn't want anything done improperly.

Lesson:

God doesn't always work according to our preconceptions.

We get the idea that if this certain thing isn't done just a certain way, that God is somehow unable to work.

Churches have split over the silliest things - length of hair, color of carpet, place of pulpit, kind of music.

It seems that people get kind of attached to the kinds of music they got saved under. My parentsí generation loves to sing their old hymns. But to me, theyíre old hymns. Iíd rather go with the newer, more contemporary worship choruses. But I can get stuck in a rut too, thinking that God can only work in these certain choruses.

Lesson:

God can still use a rough cut Joshua.

God can take people who have lots of rough edges (like Joshua), refine them, and use them wonderfully.

This was the same Joshua who would take Moses' place as leader over Israel. This was the same Joshua who would be in charge of conquering the Promised Land.

Don't feel like God can never use you because you've got some rough edges that He's been sanding down lately.

If you stay open to the Lord, he just may make a Joshua out of you.

All that God is looking for is an open heart.

:29 Enviest thou for my sake?

NASB Ė "Are you jealous for my sake?"

This shows us some insight into Moses as well.

He wasn't jealous of someone else being used by God.

When you're doing ministry, it's a wonderful experience to be used by God in someone else's life.

This can be a powerfully intoxicating thing, being appreciated by other people.

If you're not careful, you can fall into the trap of thinking that you're the only one God can use. Or you can become fearful of competition, lest people stop "following" you.

John the Baptist had the correct attitude when people asked him if he had a problem with more people following Jesus instead of himself:

JOH 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.

Lesson:

Correct motives in ministry.

Do we really want to see the ministry of God's Spirit grow and thrive, or are we out to develop our own little following?

Do we want God's work to get done, no matter by whom, or in what fashion, or do we want to be the one who gets all the pats on the back?

Illustration

F.B. Meyer was a pastor in England during the time that Charles Spurgeon also was a pastor. For a time he had real problems of jealousy towards Spurgeonís ministry, until he began to pray for Spurgeon, and for Godís blessings on him. Then he began to find his own church growing as well with what he called the "overflow" of Spurgeonís ministry.

:29 would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets

Mosesí heart is that he wishes that God would be able to use all of the people.

Andrew Murray once said,

"The world has yet to see what God can do through a man completely yielded to Him"

Just imagine what it would be like if ALL of us were completely yielded!

:31-35 God sends quail

:31 two cubits high

That's about three feet deep of quail!

Some translators think this simply means that the flew three feet above the ground so they were easily captured.

:32 ten homers

What a baseball team! The least had ten homers, oops, not baseball homer!

A homer was 6.52 bushels, hence each person had at least 65 bushels! (a bushel is 32 quarts)

:32 they spread them all abroad

Refers to laying out meat to dry, a way of preserving the meat.

:33 while the flesh was yet between their teeth...plague

We have to guess that this was different than God's promise of quail for a month until it comes out of their nostrils.

:34 Kibrothhattaavah

Lit. - "graves of greediness", or, "graves of desires"

This plague was not for complaining about the food and wanting to go back to Egypt, this was for plain old greediness.

Isn't this a good picture of us in our greed?

We lust and lust and lust after something, and when we finally get it, we overdose on it until it makes us sick.

Or else, when we get what we are working so hard for, it usually doesn't seem to satisfy quite as much as we thought it would.

Lesson:

Greed versus contentment.

Jesus said,

LUK 12:15 And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not {even} when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

In our greed, we get the mindset that if we only had such and such thing, then our life would be complete. But your true worth does not depend upon the bottom line on your balance sheet. Your true worth is based upon the value God places upon you and the things of God that He has worked into your life.

We must be content with what we have.

PHI 4:11-13 (NAS) Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

There's a real secret here, learning to live within your means. It's a secret because it's not common knowledge. Not everyone knows how to do this.