Sometimes when reading the Bible it can be convicting to see the conduct of the people of God and how they respond in the scriptures. When reading the scriptures and seeing the manner in which some of the Bible’s heroes respond to familiar circumstances, they often do so well while many of God’s people today struggle to produce similar results. It can be tough to see that normal human beings, filled with the same Spirit of God that God’s people are supposed to possess today, are able to do so well overcoming circumstances in ways that powerfully glorify God. It is difficult to see because so often, people today fail and struggle to do as the scriptures say. Nevertheless, seeing that normal people were able to do so well for God’s glory, today’s Christians should be convicted; but then move past that conviction to know that all of God’s people are equally capable of producing the same results by His Spirit. Therefore, the people of God should be convicted, but then encouraged!
In Numbers 12:11-16 the Bible documents Moses responding in the exact character of Christ. His response is convicting because he responds in such a way that many Christians struggle in. Many people feel ill will towards those who wrong them. When a person is talking trash about another, usually the victim desires some sort of payback – whether they want to inflict it or not. Though the basis of salvation is founded on grace, Christians often struggle with offering grace and forgiveness when they are wronged. It’s a terrible habit, but it is a true one that needs to be addressed. The scriptures show that its possible so that upon reading the testimony of Moses, one who struggles in this area would be wise to seek the Lord in prayer to model Jesus in the manner of Moses in order that God would be glorified in these challenge circumstances.
In Numbers 12:11-16 the Bible explains that Aaron sought out Moses after God judged Miriam with leprosy. The Lord was angry with Miriam for her jealousy against Moses and her criticisms against his leadership. Miriam questioned the validity of Moses’ authority even though it was well documented amongst the children of Israel that God was Moses in the most unique ways. Since Miriam’s complaints and criticisms were directed towards God’s work and His purposes for that work, God responded in anger towards her and she immediately became leprous. Aaron pleaded with Moses to intercede with God on behalf of them. Aaron approached Moses as one would approach God. He humbled himself and confessed his sin. Aaron acknowledged that they were wrong to talk trash about Moses’ relationship with God, about Moses’ authority, and about Moses’ wife. Aaron confessed that they made a terrible mistake and asked Moses to plead with God on her behalf, hoping that God would be merciful.
The scriptures explain that Moses was willing to do so. Rather than respond in the typical human manner, Moses conducted himself in the manner of Jesus. A typical human response to Aaron’s request would be to spite Miriam and Aaron and be bitter against them for talking trash in the manner that they were. Some would even be glad that Miriam was judged in the manner that she was, feeling that justice was served and she deserved to be leprous. Considering the circumstances, that would be a justified position. God Himself spited Miriam. God even left the presence of Aaron and Miriam in anger. God Himself judged Miriam. Thus, one feeling that justice was served would have been right. However, Moses didn’t seek justice. Moses sought mercy.
In Hosea 6:6 the prophet wrote, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Jesus later quoted this verse to rebuke the Jewish religious leaders in Matthew 9:13. The point of God communicated through Hosea is that God wants His people to be as He is. God is merciful. While Miriam was judged with leprosy, she should have been killed for blaspheming God’s work methods. God was just, but was also merciful. Upon Moses pleading on her behalf, God assured Moses that she would be restored. She didn’t deserve to be restored, but God assured that she would be made well again in 7 days, after she served her customary time of shame outside of the camp as a leper. She would not be excused from the consequence of her sin, but she would not suffer the death she deserved. God was merciful and so was Moses.
God wants His people to be like Him. God imparts His Spirit unto believers in order to equip them to be as He is. Thus, the people of God are armed with the proper tools to show the mercy of God just like Moses. However, one must consider that in order to display mercy as God desires, one must deny one’s self. Moses had the opportunity to think spitefully towards Miriam but denied that opportunity. Moses had the opportunity to seek vengeance against Miriam but denied that opportunity. Moses had the opportunity to deny Aaron and tell him Miriam got what she deserved, but Moses denied that opportunity. Instead, Moses sought the Lord and expressed a genuine desire to see Miriam restored.
This is where many of God’s people struggle. It is not just that Moses asked God to restore her, but Numbers 12:11-16 explains that Moses was genuine in his request and literally pleaded with God on her behalf. He really didn’t want Miriam to remain in her condition. Moses really felt sorry for her. Though she talked trash about his relationship with God, his authority, and his wife, Moses expressed that he had a heart that didn’t want to see anyone suffer. He really cared for Miriam’s well being and interceded with genuine passion as Jesus did.
This is an area of great need in the church. Today’s world is filled with people with hardened, dark, spiteful, and vengeful hearts. People relish the opportunity to see someone get what’s deserved rather than see God restore the guilty. This is not a reflection of God’s heart. Great change is needed in the hearts of God’s people. The testimony of Moses proves it is possible to be such a way. However, the intensity of his relationship with God should be seen as the cause of his Godliness. Moses sought God to the extent that he was able to see and speak to God as face to face. The people of God must pursue God with this kind of passion and desire – to see God face to face. The people of God must tear through the scriptures seeking Him with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, expecting God to respond. The people of God must pray and earnestly seek His Spirit to be sanctified into His image. Then and only then will the people of God be able to demonstrate the mercy of God as Moses. Since God already expressed that He desires mercy and not sacrifice, the people of God would be wise to follow Moses’ lead. Lord help us...
The Lord offers a tremendous amount of grace to reveal Himself to His people. As sinners, people don’t deserve to know of God’s righteousness, holiness, and certainly don’t deserve to partake in His blessings and eternal rewards. Nonetheless, the Bible teaches that God is willing to share these things with people. Therefore, the people of God should be thankful to receive of God in the manner that He shares, and should do so without complaints. The Lord is not obligated to do anything for a people that deserve judgment and wrath. Yet He chooses to share of Himself and bless His people by extending the opportunity to have a relationship with Him. The Bible teaches that God has decided to extend His grace through His people that possess His Spirit through faith in His Son. Some people don’t like this idea so that jealousy and bitterness reside in the hearts of many people. Considering that the basis of God’s revelation is predicated on grace, people that have the opportunity to receive from God should not be jealous of the people that God uses to distribute His grace.
In Numbers 12:1-10 the Bible explains such an instance. The scriptures explain that Miriam and Aaron came together to speak harshly against Moses because they didn’t like that Moses took an Ethiopian woman as a wife. They didn’t agree with some of Moses’ choices and the Bible reveals that they talked trash about him behind his back. As they criticized his choice to marry an Ethiopian woman, Miriam and Aaron also criticized Moses’ leadership position. They questioned whether he was really hearing from God. They questioned if God would really only speak through Moses, figuring that they were equally qualified, if not more so, to receive revelation from God. Miriam and Aaron were jealous of Moses’ position and complained about the manner in which God sought to lead His people.
As one might expect, God heard the complaints of Miriam and Aaron and responded. The scriptures explain that Moses was the most humble of all the people amongst the children of Israel, which was why God selected him. Though Moses had plenty of shortcomings, God was pleased with his humility since Moses desired for nothing more than for God to be exalted. Therefore, God called Miriam, Aaron, and Moses together to meet Him at the tabernacle where He would speak with them and address the complaints about how He was working. The meeting did not go well for Miriam and Aaron. The scriptures suggest that God addressed Miriam mainly as if she was the instigator of the complaining. God revealed Himself to the three of them through the cloud that He normally resided in. God then explained Himself and the intense nature of the work that He was performing in Israel through Moses.
God told Miriam, Aaron, and Moses how He traditionally worked to reveal Himself. God reminded them that normally He would select a person designated as a prophet and make Himself known to the prophet through dreams and visions. God stated that such was not the case with Moses. God had a very unique relationship with Moses. God told the three of them that He spoke to Moses directly – face to face! God told Miriam and Aaron in front of Moses that Moses was the most faithful amongst all of Israel and such is why God decided to speak to him in this way. God told Miriam and Aaron that He spoke plainly with Moses, not in the dark, but that Moses was allowed to see the form of God, as by His glory. Thus, there was absolutely no reason for Miriam or Aaron to complain against Moses and question whether or not God was truly with him.
The Bible teaches that God revealed Himself in an incredibly special way to the children of Israel by Moses. No generation of people in the history of the world has ever received the Word of God as the children of Israel from Moses. While the people of God today are privileged to receive revelation from God by His Spirit, no people group has been so privileged to receive the Word from one that has seen God face to face. The Bible explains that God revealed Himself in a variety of ways over the course of history, but never as He did with Moses to the children of Israel. The work of God through Moses was evident. The people recognized that the facial complexion of Moses changed when he spoke with God. The people knew that Moses spoke with God in his tent. The people went to Moses to inquire of God. The people knew that Moses had a unique relationship with God so that there shouldn’t have been any question about the manner in which God was working to reveal Himself. Knowing this, Miriam was wrong to be jealous of Moses and question his position with the Lord. Her jealousy was reflective of discontentment regarding God’s work methods and the scriptures explain that God responded accordingly.
Recognizing the condition of Miriam’s heart towards His work and method of revelation, God judged her. Numbers 12:1-10 explains that the anger of the Lord was stirred up against them and God departed from them so that the cloud was no longer there. As soon as the cloud was gone, the Bible testifies that Miriam became leprous. Her skin was as white as snow and when Aaron turned to her to see her condition, he as the high priest, confirmed that she was indeed a leper. God’s response against those who questioned His work was to bring great shame and isolation to her through leprosy. God wanted to show the people that it is not okay to question the way the Lord works. He is God and He is sovereign. He does not have to explain His work or why He does things certain ways. The people of God are privileged to receive any favor of any kind. The people of Israel were especially privileged to receive such awesome and unique revelation from God as by Moses. Miriam should have been thanking the Lord rather than putting down His spokesperson with insults and backbiting.
It is unwise to respond towards God’s appointed servant-leaders with jealousy. It is unwise to question the methods of God’s revelation. When God is genuinely working to reveal Himself, one should embrace the opportunity receive from God, not insult the work processes that He employs to share of His holy essence. Anything that any person receives from God is an act of grace so that the recipient should be thankful. The people of God should spend their time looking for ways to express gratitude towards God for sharing His essence with His people – regardless of the vessel He chooses to use to reveal Himself. God was right to judge Miriam in the manner that He did, and while God expresses more patience with His people in this light today, one should not test the patience of the Lord by criticizing the ways that God reveals Himself when the methods of God’s revelation are clear and powerful as with Moses.
The work of the Lord in judgment as documented in the scriptures is amazing to study. The Bible teaches that God is a just judge and is holy as righteous. Thus, He must judge sin, darkness, and wickedness of any kind. While the Bible shows that God is patient with sinners, He is intolerant to sin. He demands that His people live outside of sin and set apart from a dark and corrupt world. Though His people make mistakes, God examines the hearts of His people to find those who desire to be as He is and exemplify such desire through conduct. God does not expect His people to be perfect, but does expect His people to desire perfection according to His standards. In contrast, the scriptures show that God will deal with transgression and those who deny His nature through rebellion. The Bible shows that when God judges, He proves His identity. He proves to the guilty that He is almighty; and at the same time, He proves to the faithful that their faith is well placed!
In Numbers 11:31-35 the Bible explains how God judged the children of Israel when they continually expressed discontentment for God’s provision. The Bible explains that the people were not satisfied with the quality of God’s provision in the wilderness through manna bread. The people got tired of it and wanted more. The Bible states that the people longed for things that were available in Egypt. The people started to desire the things of “the world” and the things that were representative of their former life in bondage while in Egypt. God was not pleased with their repeated complaints. Moses tried to warn the people, but the people were discontent with God, forgetting His nature, and dishonoring His grace.
When God judged the children of Israel, He did so in a manner that revealed His power and nature in order to bring about justice, but also to remind the people of who He was since they had forgotten. God is so powerful that He is able to accomplish all of these things at once. In order to appreciate the powerful judgments of God, one must examine the details of scripture to see how God did it. Numbers 11:31-35 explains that God brought quail to judge the children of Israel. They wanted meat, so God promised that they would have so much meat that it would “pour out of their noses,” such as when one vomits. In other words, God would bring such an excessive amount of meat, that it would make the people sick!
The Bible documents that God brought judgment upon Israel by brining a wind to move the quail into the camp of Israel. God controlled the wind! The scriptures specifically state that the wind “went out from the Lord.” God was the source of the wind. Thus, the scriptures explain that God produced wind that moved quail from the area around the sea, into the camp of Israel. Consider how this would have looked from a human perspective. The wind would have picked up, and quail would have moved with the wind. However, the scriptures explain that there was so much quail that they covered all around the camp by a two-days journey, up to 3 feet above the ground! This is an insane amount of quail. The Bible teaches that there was so much quail that the children of Israel were gathering them for food for two who days.
The amount of quail shows that this was not a normal natural occurrence. God was the Author of this event. The Bible teaches that God is able to exercise His power as Creator over His creation at any point in time to do any thing He desires. While people might see “nature” in action, the Bible explains that God is the commander and source of the winds and all other “natural” occurrences. Hence, one should highly respect and regard the judgment of the Living God. When the disciples were afraid of how the Jewish religious leaders persecute Jesus and His crew, Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” It is wise to always consider and fear the God who controls the winds as Creator! While there are some who might be able to do damage to the body, the Living God is able to use anything that exists in the physical or spirit realm to bring destruction to the body AND the soul!
Numbers 11:31-35 shows that God ultimately brought a plague to the people. When the people began to consume the quail, the scriptures testify that the Lord struck them with a plague, even as soon as the meat was still in their teeth. Many of the people died. Therefore, while the movement of the quail might have seemed like a natural phenomena, the results that transpired from the quail shows that it was God’s deliberate manipulation of creation to cast judgment. The manner in which God executed His judgment was not only good to judge the sin of the people for their discontentment, but was also to teach a powerful lesson in that cravings of the flesh are deadly! God judged the people by using meat – the very substance that the people craved in opposition to God’s provision. Numbers 11:31-35 is clear to shows that the people who yielded to the cravings of their flesh were the ones that were buried by the plague.
The Word of God should speak clearly. The cravings of the flesh are contrary to the will of God. To crave the flesh in a manner that causes one to become dissatisfied with God’s provision leads to transgression. To crave the flesh in such a way that one is willing to indulge in fleshly appetites rather than God’s provision will result in judgment. Since God is so powerful and great to judge AND use His authority over the elements of the Earth to do so, then one would be wise to submit to God’s authority and appreciate His provision. God is the Creator of the universe, and as such, is above all, authority over all, and more powerful than all. He is in no position to serve the people that He created, yet He is merciful and kind to give His people what is needed to live, and live well. The people of God would be wise to appreciate the provision of God, not complain in discontentment, causing God to remind His people who’s in charge in miserable ways.
The will and purposes of God are amazing and awesome as documented in scripture. However, the Bible also shows that the people of God don’t always respond in an appropriate manner towards God’s work. The scriptures show that there are often times when people that are young in the Lord, examine the work of God and are critical against the manner in which God executes His will. Some people will speak out against the people that God uses to do His work. Some people will criticize the work itself because it does not match a preconceived expectation. Neither of these responses change the awesome nature of God’s work. Therefore, it is up to the people of God to grow and mature in their understanding of the Lord in order to appreciate the magnitude of His work and the methods that He employs to execute it.
In Numbers 11:24-30 the Bible documents the work that God did to relieve Moses from some of the burdens that he had been experiencing while leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. The complaints of the people had gotten to Moses so that he succumbed to the temptation to complain against God as well, and cried out to the Lord about his disability and weakness to do as God commanded. In a fleshly moment of weakness where Moses got stuck focusing on the circumstances he was required to endure, he spoke out to the Lord in a manner that reflected his distrust in God to properly protect and equip him to do the job that God called him to do. Moses had quickly forgotten about all of the miracles that God had previously done through Moses so that he became afraid and unsure about God’s willingness and ability to equip him moving forward.
The Bible explains that God responded to Moses in mercy. God eased some of the responsibilities of Moses by instructing Moses to gather 70 men that would function as elders to assist with the people. God commanded Moses to find 70 men of Israel that were wise and dedicated to the Lord so that they could help offset some of the civil and trivial matters that tended to pile up on Moses. Numbers 11:24-30 explains that God told the 70 elders to gather around the tabernacle so that He could officially anoint them and appoint them for their duty and service before the rest of the congregation of Israel.
The scriptures explain that when the people were gathered before the tabernacle, that God revealed Himself through the cloud that had been leading them in the wilderness and actually spoke to the people. The Bible states that God took His Spirit and placed it upon the 70 men. In fact, the Bible is specific in detail to explain that God took the same Spirit that rested upon Moses and distributed it out to the other 70 men as well. The scriptures do not suggest that Moses possessed any less of the Spirit. The scriptures do not suggest that any of the 70 men were lacking in the Spirit. Thus, the Bible explains that, as God called 70 men to serve Him as Moses’ assistance, He also equipped them with His own essence.
It is also important to recognize that God equally equipped each person – 70 in all – in the exact same manner that He equipped Moses. God imparted His own Spirit onto the 70 men. The Bible does not suggest that, even though God had imparted His own essence unto 71 people that He lacked in any way, shape, or form as a result. This is a testament to the eternal nature of God. The Bible shows that God is not simply one that lives forever, but that He is self-existing to an infinite degree! When a normal human being pours his or her self into another in order to assist them, their own ability and focus is compromised. When a normal human being spreads his or her self thin across 70 other people, one can gather that the 70 people are not getting the full essence and attention of the one seeking to help. Human beings are limited this way; God is not!
Numbers 11:24-30 provides proof and evidence that verify God’s work to pour out His Spirit in equal amount without depleting His own resources. The scriptures explain that as the 70 elders received the Spirit of God, they began to prophesy. The Bible defines “prophecy” as the supernatural ability to communicate by the Spirit of God in ways that are related to God’s work and plans concerning Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God, whether in the present or in the future. Thus, God’s Spirit empowered 70 men in Old Testament times to speak about the future work of God concerning His promises to bless His people though the Messiah! The evidence that the 70 elders possessed the Spirit of God was provided in the ways they communicated prophetically even in Old Testament times!
The Bible also explains that another interesting phenomena took place. Numbers 11:24-30 states that two other men were able to prophecy as well. Two men named Eldad and Medad were able to prophesy even though they were not part of the group of 70 elders, and were not even present at the tabernacle when the elders were prophesying. The people began to marvel and wonder how this was possible. In fact, Joshua, the son of nun, Moses’ assistant, responded adversely to their ability not understanding the work of God. Joshua actually complained to Moses about their ability to prophesy. Not understanding God’s work, Joshua criticized the ability of others to speak on behalf of the Lord. Joshua even approached Moses to ask if they should forbid their communication. Since Joshua didn’t fully understand the work of the Lord, he sought to quite the people that were speaking the Word of God.
Now one must be careful to examine Joshua’s motivation and Moses’ response to Joshua very carefully. Many people have a tendency to side with Moses because of the way that he responds against Joshua and use Moses’ response as a basis to support outrageous demonstrations of “supernatural” activity. This is not wise. The Bible explains that Joshua was seeking to mute Eldad and Medad because he didn’t understand the magnitude of God’s work. Joshua figured that the elders would be equipped to prophesy based on their calling and formal position. Joshua questioned the prophecy of the others because they were neither called (formally) nor present. Hence, Joshua’s concern is healthy though his desire is incorrect. It is good to question those that profess to speak prophetically if they are not known to be a part of a work that God has communicated He desires to do.
On the other hand, Moses gave a slight rebuke to Joshua. Moses stated something that is very compelling considering it is stated so early in the Old Testament. When Joshua sought to quite Eldad and Medad, Moses said, Are you zealous for my sakes? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” Moses was referring to God’s New Covenant promises WAY before God communicated them. In fact, God’s covenant through the Law was only 2 years old at this point in scripture, but Moses desired for bigger and greater things from God – and rightly so. God’s New Covenant promises that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and that those who trust in the identity of Jesus Christ would actually receive the regenerative benefits of the Spirit. God’s New Covenant promises are so great that He states that the results of the New Covenant will cause His people to have such a refined understanding of Him that people won’t need to be taught by other people anymore – they’ll just know who God is!
It is true that the prophesying of Eldad and Medad seemed suspicious since they were not called as “elders” and were not at the tabernacle where they prophesying was taking place. However, this just speaks to the magnitude of God’s ability. Not only was God able to place His Spirit upon 70 men and enable them to prophesy together at the tabernacle (though only on that particular day), He also enabled three other people to prophesy in different places and in different ways: Eldad and Medad prophesied one way, and Moses prophesied about the New Covenant in response to their prophesying! The work that God did had an infectious affect on the people and caused Moses to aspire for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Joshua was confused in ignorance, but Moses rejoiced in understanding. Thus, one can see that God is so great that He is able to impart Himself unto anyone He chooses at any time, never depleting in His own resources, facilitating forms of communication that are foreign to the natural sinner, thereby inciting praises and rejoicing from those who understand His nature and His work. Truly God is worthy of one’s effort to know Him through the Word and worship Him in response!
The Lord sometimes has interesting ways of dealing with His people from a discipline perspective. As Creator, the Lord knows exactly what He’s working with and knows exactly how to deal with His people so that He is able to deliver effective discipline while revealing His unique attributes and character traits. The Bible makes obvious claims about God’s sovereign power as Judge, but when reading about God’s judgments, one must pay special attention to the methods that God employs to execute His judgment to gain an understanding of His nature.
In Numbers 11:16-23 the Bible documents God’s response to the complaints of the children of Israel and Moses. The people had been complaining against God, demonstrating severe discontentment with God’s provision and the methods of God’s work. The people longed for bondage rather than the miraculous work of mercy and grace that God was showing the people through the wilderness journey. As a result, Moses pleaded to God inquiring about what to do. However, rather than simply seek God in humility, Moses was fueled by frustration in his flesh and was compelled to vent to the Lord in self-pity indulging in complaining like the others. Numbers 11:16-23 explains how God responded to the complaints of His people.
God first responded to the complaints of Moses. Moses’ gripe was that his job was too hard. Moses had grown incredibly frustrated with the people and didn’t know what to do. Moses had good intentions. He wanted the children of Israel to see the Lord as he did. Moses wanted the children of Israel to respect and fear the Lord in humility and demonstrate gratitude and contentment. Thus, when the children of Israel complained as often as they did, Moses was discouraged and deflated, figuring the job to be too hard and too much to handle. Moses told the Lord how he felt ill equipped to bear the burden of the entire nation as Moses felt it was his responsibility to do so. Therefore, God responded to the pitiful position of Moses. God responded to Moses in mercy. He instructed Moses to gather 70 elders from Israel to empower them as advisers. Since Moses felt to overwhelmed to lead the people, God broke up the work that Moses was doing. God commanded Moses to anoint those 70 men as elders so that they could help handle various matters that were being taken to Moses as his responsibility. The elders would be helpful to govern and communicate to the people.
God then addressed the issue of Israel’s complaints about food. Numbers 11:16-23 reveals that God showed less patience with the general congregation. The people had grown tired of the food God had provided. The children of Israel spent 2 years at Mount Sinai, meaning that they had been eating manna bread for over two years straight. Though there were no other forms of food rations that the people were able to find for themselves, and the manner of God’s provision was miraculous on a daily basis, the people were discontent with the food God gave that kept them alive. They longed for God to do more. Though God had demonstrated a tremendous amount of grace already, the people tempted the Lord to go above and beyond to meet their fleshly lusts and appetites.
God was not pleased with the general attitude of the people. The scriptures reveal that God promised to meet the request of the people. They didn’t want to eat manna any more – they wanted meat. Thus, God promised meat. God promised meat as a form of judgment. The scriptures testify that God promised that He would overwhelm the people with so much meat that it would “come out of their nostrils!” God would judge the complaints of the people by giving them an excessive amount of their fleshly appetites until it made them sick. God would give the people exactly what they wanted – again, and again, and again, and again. God promised to overwhelm the people with meat for a month straight! If the people were going to complain against God and desire something different, God would give them an abundance of “different” to show the flawed nature of their desires.
When God pronounced this judgment, Moses was confused. He could not understand how God could pull something like this off. Moses felt compelled to remind God about how many people there were. He spoke to God as if the population of Israel was too great to judge in such a way. Moses questioned God – how would He supply a month’s worth of meat for so many people in such a way, in the middle of the wilderness? God was not pleased with the unbelief of Moses. If the complaints of the people weren’t a sign of unbelief amongst the people, the remarks to God concerning His decree of judgment exposes the unbelief clearly. God responded by telling Moses, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?” In modern vernacular, the rhetorical question of God could also be interpreted as, “Have you forgotten who I am?”
It would have been a valid concern for Moses to question how an average man would make so much meat manifest out of nowhere. However, God had fed the people with bread from heaven for two years already. This is the same God that made it rain hail over Egypt and only Egypt. This is the same God that brought darkness over Egypt and only Egypt. This was the same God that brought lice and pestilence and locusts to plague Egypt and only Egypt. This was the God that parted the Red Sea and stood before the children of Israel as a consuming fire at Mount Sinai. More simply, this was the Living God who called Himself “I AM” as the Creator of all things; and as Creator, He spoke the entire universe out of nothing! Therefore, there is nothing that is too hard for God or that even challenges God. Consequently, one can examine the judgment that God pronounced, not only as judgment, but as a method by which God would remind the people who He is – He is Yahweh and should not be questioned or disrespected through complaints!
The judgment of God was real. Though Moses could not understand it, God would exercise His infinite power to manifest anything out of nothing to bring an excessive amount of meat that would overwhelm the people to the point of sickness. The people thought they knew what they wanted in spite of God’s provision. God would produce an extraordinary amount of meat out of nothing to prove to the people that they were wrong and that He is God and there is no other. God’s judgments are always two-fold. They are always manifested in such a way that the guilty are disciplined, but the humble are able to learn of the Lord by the way He reveals Himself in judgment. As one beholds the judgments of God in humility, one is able to better understand the nature of God, develop a healthier fear and respect of God, and mature in humility and obedience to the Lord. So while it is a terrible idea to become a master complainer against God, one can look at the judgment that God decreed against complainers in Numbers 11:16-23 and gain a great deal of understanding and respect for who the Lord is.
There is a disease that many people possess today that causes serious affliction upon most people. This disease has existed for nearly all of humanity’s existence. It is easily spread and can cause death. This disease is able to subtly creep into any environment and turn something beautiful into something wretched. This disease has the tendency to change environments so quickly so that they become so contaminated and dangerous that one would simply be wise to run away when one senses the symptoms of the disease amongst others. This disease is documented in the Bible, and while has a cure, the cure requires the miraculous work of God to address since this disease needs to be worked on from the heart. There is no physical remedy or medication that can cure this disease. Doctors cannot provide assistance or perform procedures to deal with this disease. According to the scriptures, this disease is referred to as “complaining.”
The Bible teaches incredibly important lessons about complaining that are difficult to digest. This is because most people are complainers. However, as the scriptures reveal God’s perspective about the complaints of His people, one MUST know and understand that complaining against the will and work of God can be deadly! The scriptures show that, no matter what a person does, if such work of service and/or obedience is laced with complaints, God gets angry. The scriptures show that when such complains are persistent, God will respond in ways that are not favorable to the complainer. Even worse, the Bible reveals that complaining is highly contagious! When one person begins complaining, the scriptures show that a small group of complainers forms, and then a large group, and then the leaders that are to exemplify God begin to join in as well so that many of God’s people demonstrate discontentment with God. This is not good and requires immediate repentance.
In Numbers 11:1-15 the Bible documents some of the complaints of the children of Israel. It is interesting to note the order of this testimony. The scriptures just finished explaining how the children of Israel were obedient to the commands of God. They recognized that the cloud that housed the presence of the Lord had moved and made preparations to follow. The scriptures explain that the people were obedient. They arranged the camp to migrate in the ways God instructed. They dealt with the transportation of the tabernacle in the manner that God communicated. The people did exactly as God said according to the scriptures. However, according to Numbers 11:1-15, the people also complained while doing as God required, which angered the Lord to great degrees!
The scriptures begin by stating that there was a “mixed” crowd amongst Israel as they followed the presence of the Lord. This means that there were people in the camp that were not direct descendants of Abraham. For example, Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, was a Midianite and was invited to accompany the children of Israel to become a joint heir to the promises of God. When the children of Israel left Egypt, there were some from Egypt and surrounding areas that joined the Israelites. The scriptures explain that these people began to grumble. It was “the mixed multitude” that began to have intense cravings centered around the ways that they lived before entering into the wilderness. The scriptures state that the people grumbled about the food that God was providing. The “mix multitudes” remembered their previous manner of living and longed for the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic that was available in Egypt but not the wilderness. The mixed multitudes had a devastating affect on the children of Israel.
The Bible testifies that upon the mixed multitudes complaining, the children of Israel began to join in. They too became discontent with the provision of the Lord. They criticized the Lord regarding the type and quality of His provision. God was providing bread from heaven, but the people didn’t want it. God was performing a miracle every day in order to sustain His people, and the people didn’t appreciate it. God removed His people from bondage and was in the process of leading His people into the Promised Land, and the people were discontent with the manner in which God was fulfilling His promises that were founded on grace. The scriptures candidly explain that when the people complained, He heard, recognized their ungrateful discontentment, and responded in anger. Numbers 11:1-15 explains that God fired a “warning shot” so to speak as He responded with a fire around the boarder of the camp of the people that killed a few that were camped on the outskirts. God would not tolerate the complaints of the people.
The Bible shows that when the fire consumed the people, Moses immediately recognized the source of the issue and went to the Lord to address it. Moses knew the people were being judged, and so he went to the Judge to plead for mercy. Upon approaching the Lord for mercy, the Lord responded favorably and relented on the fire. The fire was extinguished. However, that warning shot did not teach the people anything. Numbers 11:1-15 explains that the people complained more. In fact, the scriptures show that the mix multitudes had such an influence on Israel, that Israel started to complain in the same manner as the mixed multitude as if their past life in bondage was better than the life God was seeking to provide. The complaints of the people infected the minds of the people. They soon forgot about the misery they experienced while in bondage. They soon forgot about the promises that God made to Abraham. They soon forgot about the judgment they witnessed God perform against Egypt. They soon forgot about the power and faithfulness of God so that they did not desire to be beneficiaries of God’s eternally awesome promises, but instead longed to go back into the environment of bondage and suffering. The complaints of the multitudes caused the children of Israel to despise the eternally unconditional promises of God.
The testimony only gets worse. The scriptures show that as Moses heard the grumbling of the people as they stood outside their tents and “vented,” he went to the Lord again to address the issue. Unfortunately, the complaints of the people had infected Moses as well. Moses did not approach God in the manner he did the first time. The first time, Moses humbly sought the Lord seeking mercy. The second time, Moses sought the Lord to complain. Though Moses was doing what the Lord had commanded him, Moses had a poor attitude about his position. The corrupt nature of the people had corrupted his good nature that was instilled by his relationship with God. Rather than embracing the privilege to serve God and represent His righteousness and glory, Moses complained about his role and position in God’s work. He complained about having to lead the people because he was tired of hearing them. Moses complained about the difficulty of his calling. Moses complained about the magnitude of work that was placed upon him. While it was true that Moses was overwhelmed with the burdens of the people, the complaints of the multitudes caused Moses to reflect his burden in a way that made it seem as if he despised it.
As Moses went on complaining to the Lord, he began to list all of the things that he wasn’t able to do. Recall that when Moses was first called by God when they spoke through the burning bush, Moses tried to convince God that he was unqualified. Though it was true that Moses was unqualified, the abilities or disabilities of a person are never hindrances to the Lord. God called Moses in spite of his disability and the Book of Exodus clearly testifies that God was able to use Moses anyway. The complaints of the people had caused Moses to forget these truths. Complaining caused Moses to forget the past work of God thereby crippling his trust in the Lord to continue in His faithfulness and grace. It was true that Moses’ responsibilities were too much for any man to bear. It was true that the burden of all of Israel was too great for any one person. It was true that Moses was weak.
Moses confessed all of these truths to God, but did so in the context of complaining, not humility. Complaining made Moses forget that the responsibilities God gave him were a privilege so that he was supposed to rely on the Lord to execute them. Complaining made Moses forget that Israel was God’s burden, not his own. Complaining made Moses forget that he had been weak all along, yet the Lord performed judgment after judgment upon Egypt through Moses, parted the Red Sea through Moses, and fed the people in spite of Moses. The main issue was about the quality of food that God was providing. Moses felt inadequate to meet the needs of the people. Complaining caused Moses to forget that he had never met the needs of the people – God did.
The scriptures show how dangerous complaining can be. Complaining not only reflects discontentment for God’s provision, God’s work, and God’s promises, but also can lead to one forgetting who the Lord is. Complaining affected the people like a virus. It spread from foreigners and entered into the camp of Israel so that God’s own representative spoke in a way that reflected language suggested that he despised his position. Complaining caused the people to forget the power of God, the faithfulness of God, the provision of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, and pushed God beyond the boundaries of His patience so that He was forced to bring judgment upon the people. The Lord God is almighty, holy, righteous, just, merciful, gracious, and faithful. He deserves to be treated as such. Though the people of God might go through the motions that resemble obedience, when complaining is the attitude that one adopts in the process, one is not treating God as He deserves and He will respond. Thus, the Bible shows that one must be careful about how one responds to God’s work and will. One must be careful about how one speaks about the work of God and one’s circumstances. One must be careful to flee when one hears others in the “mixed multitude” begin complaining. Bad company corrupts good morals – especially through complaining. The scriptures are clear about the dangers of complaining, grumbling, and “venting” against God. The people of God would be wise to heed these warnings and repent when necessary!
The Bible shows that the Lord gives specific commands expecting His people to respect His authority by submitting to His commands in obedience. Additionally, since God is sovereign, He is able to orchestrate circumstances that test His people to see if they will obey. What good is a command if the opportunity to obey does not also follow? Thus, the Lord provides chances for His people to practice obedience in order that the perfect righteousness and glory of God would be demonstrated through the obedience of His people. Also, the scriptures show that when the people obey, there are additional blessings distributed to the people of God.
In Numbers 10:11-36 the Bible provides an example of God facilitating an opportunity for the children of Israel to demonstrate obedience. The Bible explains that after the Lord commanded Moses all the things that He desired and equipped the people to progress towards the Promised Land, He took up the cloud that His presence rested in and began to move from Mount Sinai. The Bible explains that the children of Israel camped in front of Mount Sinai for two years, two months, and twenty days. After that time, Moses recognized that it was time to pack up and move along as the presence of the Lord moved from the location that it had been resting at.
When the presence of the Lord moved in the cloud and fire that had been settled at Mount Sinai, the Lord presented an opportunity to practice all of the commands that He had given the children of Israel regarding their transportation and logistical issues. The Bible documents that God had very specific instructions regarding the rules for migration for the people. He wanted them to move in specific ways, especially concerning the tabernacle. God wanted the children of Israel to break the camp into specific sections so that specific tribes were arranged in specific orders. The scriptures show that God also wanted the Levites to assist in the transportation of the tabernacle, with specific families in charge of specific duties to move the tabernacle. Numbers 10:11-36 explains that the children of Israel did exactly as the Lord commanded so that the migration of several million people went smoothly and orderly as God envisioned.
The Bible reveals that God is an orderly God. He is a God that exercises structure and logic in order to accomplish His purposes. From the time of creation, the Bible shows that God works in opposition of chaos and dysfunction. Thus, His instructions for the children of Israel regarding migration were to reflect God’s personality regarding these attributes. As the children of Israel packed up their things and worked to transport the tabernacle, the scriptures reveal that the Israelites worked together like a well-oiled machine to go from one place to another. Though the camp of Israel contained many people and many moving parts, their obedience to the commands of God allowed them to function as one cohesive unit that was able to move seamlessly through the wilderness. The relocation of a family can sometimes be chaotic and difficult. However, the scriptures testify that the relocation of an entire nation was executed with ease because the people heeded the commands of the Living God.
The scriptures reveal that Moses and the elders had great help. Numbers 10:11-36 explains that as the people prepared to move, Moses reached out to a Midianite man named Hobab to accompany them on their journey. The Bible explains that Hobab was a man that was extremely helpful to Moses through the wilderness journey. Hobab was Moses’ father-in-law that had helped Moses through difficult circumstances, providing great wisdom and insights that helped Moses lead according to the Lord. Hobab was the man that suggested Moses break up the camp into groups and assign elders from each tribe to represent the tribes in matters of judgments and communication. Hobab made the life and responsibilities of Moses much more doable so that Moses pleaded for him to accompany the children of Israel on their journey.
Though Hobab was a Midianite, Moses invited him into the camp. This is an important detail to consider. Hobab might not have been a man of direct descendant of Abraham, but was invited as an heir to the promises of God nonetheless because of the way he assisted the people of God. Moses pleased with Hobab to join them in their journey and assured him that he would be entitled to the same blessings and promises that the children of Israel were to receive. Though Hobab sought to go back to his homeland, Moses insisted and assured him that God would graft him into the promises and blessings intended for Israel. Hence, the Bible shows that the promises of God were intended for Israel, but are extended to anyone that would desire to serve the Lord by serving His people. According to the promises that God made to Abraham, God would bless those who blessed the descendants of Abraham. Hobab became an example of God’s faithfulness to fulfill that promise!
Numbers 10:11-36 explains that as the children of Israel ventured out from Sinai towards the Promised Land, Moses became accustomed to praying and stating certain things to acknowledge the presence, provision, protection, and providence of God. The Bible explains that when the cloud and fire that contained the Lord’s presence began to move, Moses would say, “Rise up, O Lord! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before You.” This statement of Moses acknowledged God’s power, His sovereignty, His majesty, and His overall reputation amongst the region. Moses got in the habit of praising God in the opportunity to follow Him. As the Lord moved from place to place, Moses got in the habit of proclaiming God’s providence and power while he confidently followed Him in praise.
Likewise, when the Lord stopped moving and settled in an area, Moses developed the saying, “Return O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel.” This saying reflects Moses’ acknowledgment of God’s faithfulness to His people and to His eternally unconditional promises. The settling of the Lord was a reflection that He was leading His people, not running away from them. The setting of God showed that God was careful in His leadership to ensure the health, integrity, and overall condition of His people. Either way, Moses developed the habit of rejoicing over the identity of the Lord, recognizing the privilege that he had in following God. Moses did not take anything for granted and cherished the Lord God that gave great promise and provided awesome evidence of His faithfulness and diligence to fulfill those promises. Moses’ statements show that he was focused on the Lord through the journey, thankful for the Lord through the journey, dependent on the Lord through the journey, and humble towards the Lord through the journey. This would be a great example to follow.
History has provided some unique and interesting testimonies seeking to document the work and words of the Living God. There have been plenty of people throughout history that have claimed to hear from God. There have been plenty of people throughout history that claim that they were led of the Lord to do certain things or go certain places to accomplish certain tasks. Hindsight often shows that for all of the people that boasted about being led by the Spirit of God to do certain things or go certain places, time has shown that few of them were correct. This shows that there are a lot of people that think they are being led of the Lord, but few actually are. Over time, the people of God have been able to examine some of these people and compare the results of their efforts to the scriptures and see if such results match the patterns of God’s’ work. However, the people of God are not always forced to wait over long periods of time to vet out the involvement of the Lord in certain circumstances. The people of God are not continually put in positions to guess where God is or what He’s doing. The Bible explains that God works in unique patterns so that the people of God should learn those patterns, then look for those patterns to know what God is doing, where He is going, and know the methods by which He wants to go there.
An example of this reality is in Numbers 10:1-10. The Bible explains that God commanded Moses to construct 2 silver trumpets. Those trumpets were to serve as alarms for the children of Israel in order to direct their paths and provide alerts for certain instructions. The scriptures explain that God wanted the descendants of Aaron to play the trumpets certain ways in order to signal to the children of Israel that certain things were supposed to take place. The trumpets were to be blown certain ways, and the people were supposed to respond certain ways as if the trumpets were God’s commands. The Bible teaches that when the two trumpets were blown together, God wanted the entire congregation of Israel to meet before the door of the tabernacle of meeting. If the priests were to blow only one trumpet, only the leaders of the tribes were to assemble before the tabernacle. The scriptures explain that the trumpets were to be as alarms to tell the children of Israel when to pack up and prepare to move based on the location of the cloud and pillar of fire that resembled the presence of the Lord. The trumpets were also supposed to serve as beacons to let the children of Israel know which direction they were to travel in once they were prepared to move.
Additionally, the trumpets were to be sounded specific ways to let the children of Israel know when it was time to prepare for battle. The scriptures state that if the Israelites were obedient to sound the trumpet at the appropriate time in warfare (before the battle) then God would provide salvation for His people through victory. The Lord also commanded the children of Israel to blow the trumpets to signify the beginning of the celebration of the feast days at the beginning of the feast day months. Seeing all of these notifications, it is clear to see that the children of Israel were required to be familiar with the sound of those trumpets. The alerts of the trumpets were for the purpose of notifying the people of extremely important facets in life including relocation, direction, war, and worship. The people of God were alerted by the sound of the trumpets, led by the sound of the trumpets, protected when the trumpets sounded, and praise when the trumpets sounded.
God’s commands regarding the trumpets showed that the trumpets were to be significant centerpieces in the lives of the children of Israel. For this reason, the children of Israel had to grow accustomed and become familiar with the sound of those trumpets. The people of God had to be attentive to the sound of the trumpet, keeping an open ear to them at all times. The people of Israel had to be quick to respond to the trumpets when they heard them and know what each signal and sound commanded in instruction. The Israelites had to know the difference between their trumpets and the sounds of other trumpets to know which ones were true. The Bible teaches that God provided guidance through the audible and tangible sounds of the trumpets, but it was the responsibility of the people of Israel to know and respond to the sounds that came from them. The people had to learn the sounds, learn the patterns, then keep open ears to respond in obedience in order to ensure they were in proper positions according to the Lord’s will regarding their dwelling, their protection, and their worship.
In Hebrews chapter 12, the Bible explains that the voice of God was like a trumpet on Mount Sinai when the Lord spoke to the children of Israel. In Revelation chapter 1, the Bible explains that the voice of Jesus was like a trumpet. In John chapter 10, Jesus taught that His sheep know the sound of His voice and respond to it in obedience. They can hear His voice as the children of Israel were to hear the trumpet. They understand the words that He speaks as the children of Israel were to understand the signals of each trumpet sound. The true disciples of Jesus have familiarity with the voice of the Lord Jesus, as the children of Israel were to have with the sounds of the trumpets so that followers of Jesus respond to the sound of His voice, and only His voice. Thus, Revelation chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15 teach that when Jesus commands His people to go to Him through the sounding of “the last trumpet,” the true people of God will be gathered to Him and “caught up” into heaven to meet Him through the rapture.
The scriptures are clear to show that God speaks. The scriptures are clear to show that God provides direction, wisdom, and guidance for His people. However, the Bible also teaches that God speaks and leads in very specific ways for very specific purposes. While the children of Israel were to learn the sounds of two trumpets in the wilderness, the people of God today are to treat the voice of Jesus Christ as the children of Israel treated those trumpets. The people of God are to learn and listen to the sound of the Son of God. The Bible teaches that God speaks through His Son by the Word, which is the Bible (Hebrews 1:1). This means that in order to learn the sound of God’s voice by His Son, one must be in the scriptures. In order to learn the patterns of God’s work and commands, one must be in the scriptures. In order to become familiar with the leadership and guidance of Jesus Christ, one must be in the scriptures. The people of God aren’t left to guess and wait when it comes to daily life. The people of God aren’t found doing that in the Bible. Instead, the people of God are taught to hear the specific timbre of the Lord, recognize it, know its pattern, then respond in obedience. The Bible explains that all of God’s revelation concerning Himself has already been provided through the Bible. Thus, the people of God today should treat the Bible as the children of Israel treated the two trumpets and learn the Word to know where to be, where to go, and for protection and instructions for worship.
It is important to recognize the presence of the Living God. The Bible explains how the Lord reveals His presence and explains the types of circumstances and environments that are inviting to His presence. Likewise, the scriptures also explain the different types of environments and circumstances that are not inviting to the presence of the Lord. Thus, it is the responsibility of the people of God to examine His Word, learn the patterns of His work and His presence, and then leverage the Holy Spirit to interpret circumstances according to the Word in order to see and follow the presence of the Lord.
In Numbers 9:15-23 the scriptures explain that the presence of the Lord was much easier to recognize while the children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness. However, it is important to recognize how the children of Israel responded to the presence of the Lord when they saw it. The Bible teaches that God revealed Himself and gave commands to the children of Israel through a cloud. The Bible testifies that this cloud was a large cloud that appeared like a pillar of fire by night, and like a massive covering cloud during the day. The children of Israel were responsive to the commands of God through the movement of the cloud. The Bible equates the commands of God concerning the movement of the Israelites to the presence of the cloud.
For this reason, the children of Israel followed the cloud. Since God commanded the movement of the children of Israel through the placement of the cloud, the children of Israel were to follow the cloud. The scriptures are simple in detail. The Bible teaches that the children of Israel followed the cloud wherever it went. If the cloud moved from one place to another, the Israelites would follow. When the cloud settled in a particular place, the Israelites would settle in the same place. The Bible is clear to state that the people were responsive to the EXACT movements of the cloud and were diligent to follow it at all points of the day. If the cloud moved in the middle of the night, the children of Israel packed up their camp and moved to the new location. If the cloud settled for a day, a week, or a year, the children of Israel were attached to the cloud. The children of Israel did this for 40 years!
These details are important to consider. The cloud was representative of the presence of God as well as God’s commands to move to a certain place or remain at a certain place. It is good to see that the children of Israel were responsive to the movement of the cloud. This means that they were responsive to the movement of God. The people went where God was. No matter the time, if God moved, the people moved. No matter the distance, if God moved, the people moved. The scriptures do not account for any sufficient excuse for the children of Israel to refrain from following the cloud. The people disregarded all inconveniences and discomforts and challenges in order to follow the cloud. The scriptures teach that Moses was in charge of accounting for the placement of the cloud and then organizing any necessary movement. Moses was obedient to the commands of God and did all of the necessary things to ensure the movement of the people was in line with the movement of God.
This is an important habit to adopt for the people of God today. It is not safe or wise to be outside of the presence of the Living God. Separation from the presence of God results in the absence of light, wisdom, direction, and provision. Thus, the people of God must learn about the habits and character of God through the Word to recognize how God manifests His presence to His people today. Upon recognizing the presence of God, one must follow wherever He leads. He is the Leader. He is the Guide. He is the Light that ushers people into glory and life. Thus, as the people of God recognize the presence of God, it is necessary to respond by submitting to His movement. The scriptures do not show the people of God advising God on where He should go. The scriptures do not show the Israelites leading God in their own direction. The scriptures do not show the people of God giving ideas, making suggestions, or sharing opinions about their desires in terms of direction. Instead, the people of God submitted to the movement of God trusting that if they followed and were in His presence, they were in a good place – wherever that place was going to be. By the leadership of Moses, the children of Israel were only willing to encamp where the presence of God was, regardless of comfort or convenience. The people of God would be wise to follow this example by faith!
When God gives a command, He expects obedience. God is holy. God is righteous. God is just. God is sovereign. God is almighty. God is eternally all these things and so much more, including Creator of all things! Thus, His Word should be supreme in the lives of all people, and His commands should carry more weight than all things combined. Thankfully, the things that God commands are not to restrict or hinder the lives of His people. The commands that God gives are intended to protect His people. The things that God commands are intended to benefit God’s people with wisdom. The things that God commands are intended to bless His people through revelation of His identity and purposes.
One of the commands that God gave that was intended to bless God’s people through revelation was the Passover festival. Though it is considered a celebration, the rituals and practices were specific in order to teach the people things about God – especially concerning forgiveness of sins, redemption, and salvation. God was very specific about the manner in which He wanted the Passover festival to be celebrated. In Numbers 9:1-14 the Bible documents God’s command to Moses to keep the Passover celebration even while wandering through the wilderness. The first Passover took place on the eve of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. Though the children of Israel had been freed from the bondage of Egypt, God wanted the Israelites to remember the cost that was incurred to be free in order to appreciate the God that freed them.
Numbers 9:1-14 documents one of the more favorable moments in Israel’s history. The scriptures state that God instructed Moses to command the people to celebrate the Passover, and the people obeyed. As God spoke to Moses, he relayed the messages to the people, and the people did exactly as the Lord said. Things were working out just great! In fact, Numbers 9:1-14 explains that the people even became passionate in their desires to offer sacrifices unto the Lord. As the children of Israel were making preparations to honor the Passover, the Bible explains that there were certain men that came in contact with a corpse for whatever reason. Since the Law stated that those who came in contact with dead things were considered defiled, the men inquired of Moses. The men recognized the command of the Law and knew they were considered unclean. The men understood the dynamics of the Law and the extensive purification processes that were required for cleansing. However, they knew that such a process would prohibit them from being able to celebrate the Passover with everyone else. Not wanting to offend God, they inquired of Moses about what to do.
The Bible shows that the men had high regard for the Law of God as well as for the sanctity of the Passover. They desired to offer sacrifices unto the Lord to honor Him. However, they did not want to compromise and offer profane sacrifices being unclean due to their contact with the corpse. The Bible explains that when the men inquired of Moses, they were upset at the possibility of being excluded from the Passover. God gave the Passover as a tool for the people to remember God’s work, honor Him for His work, show thanks for His work, and worship Him. The men were offended at the idea of being disqualified from such opportunity. This is a noble attitude that God honored. When the men went to Moses, scripture shows that Moses did the right thing. Rather than supposing to have the answer according to his own wisdom, Moses sought after the Lord to see if they would be permitted to celebrate with everyone considering the unusual circumstances. The scriptures reveal that God was merciful towards the circumstances. Though the men would have been considered unclean according to the Law, God was willing to forgive their uncleanness to honor the desire of the men to worship Him. The desire of the men to honor God through the celebration of the festival superseded the technical facets of the Law showing that God was merciful and gracious under the covenant of the Law in the same way that He is under the New Covenant. God examined the hearts of the men and honored their devotion.
As God communicated with Moses about the men, He took the opportunity make some clarifications regarding His commands of the Passover. God stated that He would continually make exceptions to honor the sacrifices of those who had been defiled by a corpse during the Passover. God provided the people an opportunity to worship. Numbers 9:1-14 explains that God allowed those who were defiled by the dead, and those who were on far away journeys to participate in the Passover regardless. They simply needed to have hearts of worship. God reminded Moses about the importance of the Passover and stated that anyone defiled in the previously stated manners could celebrate the feast thereby removing all excuses for those who were clean and didn’t keep the Passover commands. God told Moses that He would be willing to excuse defilement from corpses and those who were on long journeys that could not attend the feast day, but would not excuse anyone else. God plainly stated that those who were considered “clean” and were available to be present at the feast were expected to keep the Passover according to the Law, lest they be cut off from the people, disqualified from the privileges and inheritance of God’s people, and be required to bear their sin. God gave the command of the Passover with great purpose and expected the people to desire the opportunity to worship Him through obedience and learn from His commands, not find excuses to skip out. Such is the case with all of His commands, even to the people of God that are alive today. Hence, the people of God should embrace the opportunity and privilege to obey the Word in order to express thanks to God for the work of salvation He has accomplished for His people, and to learn of God through obedience.