Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 11

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Unbelief (c 1-27)
Theme: The First Approach to the Promised Land (c 10-14)
Message: God Sends Fire to the Complainers (v 1-35)

Numbers 11 Commentary

(11:1) Complaining Spreads - The Israelites complained, and then Moses complained. But God responded positively to Moses and negatively to the rest of the people. Why? The people complained to one another, and nothing was accomplished. Moses took his complaint to God, who can solve any problem. Many of us are good at complaining to each other. We need to learn to take our problems to the one who can do something about them.

(11:4) "The mixed multitude" refers to the mixed crowd of Egyptians and others who had followed Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 12;38).

(11:4-6) Counting Your Blessings - Dissatisfaction comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don't have. The people of Israel didn't seem to notice what God was doing for them--setting them free, making them a nation, and giving them a new land--because they were so wrapped up in what God wasn't doing for them. They could think of nothing but the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind. Somehow they forgot that the brutal whip of Egyptian slavery was the cost of eating that food. Before we judge the Israelites too harshly, it's helpful to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful for what God has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? We should not allow our unfulfilled desires to cause us to forget God's gifts of life, food, health, work, family, and friends

(11:4-9) Unthankfulness - Every morning the Israelites drew back their tent doors and witnessed a miracle. Covering the ground was yellow, fluffy manna- food from heaven. But soon that wasn't enough. Feeling that it was their right to have more, they forgot what they already had. They didn't ask God to meet their need; instead, they demanded meat, and they stopped trusting God to care for them. "Give us flesh, that we may eat," they demanded of Moses as they reminisced about the good food they had in Egypt (11:13). God gave them what they asked for, but they paid dearly for it when a plague struck the camp (see 11:18-20, 31-34). When you ask God for something, he may grant your request. But if you approach him with a sinful attitude, getting what you want may prove costly.

(11:16-17) Helping Leadership -  When Moses became overwhelmed by the burden of leading the people, the Lord surrounded him with other Spirit-filled leaders to help him carry the load. God did not remove Moses from his position but rather supplied effective help. When we are in positions of leadership, we should guard against becoming overwhelmed and surround ourselves, as much as possible, with others who can help us shoulder the load. Leadership can't be done by one person alone; it takes a strong supporting cast. If you are a leader, who is supporting you?

(11:21-22) Doubting God - Moses had witnessed God's power in spectacular miracles, yet at this time he questioned God's ability to feed the wandering Israelites. If even Moses doubted God's power, how much easier it is for us to do the same. But completely depending upon God is essential, regardless of our level of spiritual maturity. When we begin to rely on our own understanding, we are in danger of ignoring God's assessment of the situation. By remembering his past works and his present power, we can be sure that we are not cutting off his potential help.

(11:23) God's Strength - How strong is God? It is easy to trust God when we see his mighty acts (the Israelites saw many), but after a while, in the routine of daily life, his strength may appear to diminish. God doesn't change, but our view of him often does. The monotony of day-by-day living lulls us into forgetting how powerful God can be. As Moses learned, God's strength is always available.

(11:26-29) Don't Limit the Lord - This incident is similar to a story told in Mark 9:38-41. The disciples wanted Jesus to forbid others from casting out demons because they were not part of the disciples' group. But this type of narrow attitude was condemned by Moses and Jesus. Beware of putting limits on God--he can work through whomever he chooses.

(11:29) Looking Toward the Future - Whether or not he knew the full significance of what he was saying, Moses was looking forward to the day when all of God's people would experience the pouring out of God's Spirit. The prophet Joel recorded God's promise to pour out his Spirit on all believers (Joel 2;28-32), and this was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2;1-21). As believers, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is present within us when we become Christians (Romans 8:9). We can also pray to live by the Holy Spirit's power (Galatians 5:16-26). If you wish to have the Holy Spirit's power, pray for him to fill your life with his presence and strengthen you to follow Christ.

(11:34) Warnings on Lust - Craving (or lusting) includes more than inappropriate sexual desire. It can be an unnatural or greedy desire for anything (knowledge, possessions, influence over others). In this circumstance, God punished the Israelites for lusting after good food! Their desire was not wrong; the sin was in allowing that desire to turn into greed. They felt it was their right to have fine food, and they could think of nothing else. When you become preoccupied with something to the point that you are obsessed with it and it consumes your thoughts, you have moved from desire to lust.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Displeasing the Lord

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 11 and in today's text we see the nation of Israel continue on their journey to the promise land from the Exodus of Egypt. Along this journey we see many mistakes that we can learn from. What catches my eye today is Israel's constant complaining to God and we see God's displeasure toward them. Fire, Quails, and a Plague as a show of God's displeasure as the Israel murmured within themselves verses going to the Lord with their concerns as Moses did. In making application we see that the Lord wants us to come to Him with our concerns. Murmuring within ourselves tears us down and sows dissension within the Church and God would have us encourage and build each other up. How about you? Do you murmur and complain to others about your problems? Let us learn from today's text an go to the Lord with our problems instead of complain to others and displeasing the Lord.


Numbers 11

Numbers 11

 1And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

 2And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.

 3And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.

 4And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

 5We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:

 6But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

 7And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.

 8And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.

 9And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.

 10Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

 11And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

 12Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

 13Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

 14I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

 15And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

 16And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.

 17And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

 18And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.

 19Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;

 20But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?

 21And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.

 22Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?

 23And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.

 24And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.

 25And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

 26But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.

 27And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

 28And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

 29And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

 30And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.

 31And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.

 32And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.

 33And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.

 34And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.

 35And the people journeyed from Kibrothhattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth.