Old Testament Reading: Numbers 10-11
Psalms Reading: Psalm 64
New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 1
Continuing in our Old Testament reading of Numbers 10-11 today, if you happen to have a silver trumpet handy feel free to get it out. For that matter, if you really want to act out Numbers 10, grab your hammers and make two trumpets of silver because this passage starts with a blast -remembering that the LORD is God.
In the reading yesterday we learned how the Israelites happened to be traveling around at this time in the wilderness. If the cloud above the tabernacle moved, they moved. If it settled, they stayed. In Numbers 10:12, the cloud lifted and the Israelites headed out. From one desert to another, landing in the Desert of Paran this time. There they made some plans, divisions, and ended with rest.
Numbers 11 starts to get a little uglier. Whining, grumbling, hunger for meat (or “intense cravings” mentioned in verse 4), a consuming fire at Taberah, and even wanting to go back to lives as slaves in Egypt?! The people were displeased. The LORD was displeased with them. Whining kids are just the worst. I deal with a lot of kids at work, I was a kid, and I have a kid. There is something about the hideous voice decibel, the facial expressions, the drama, ungrateful, self absorbed nature of whining that makes us cringe. In this story it also made God “singe”! If we complain in our head, God knows it. If we whine in a whisper, God hears it. If we blast a nasty social media post, God sees it. And, the LORD is displeased.
Moving beyond the grumblings in chapter 11, verses 21-23 remind me a little bit of the doubting we see prior to the miracles of feeding the 4000 and 5000 in the New Testament. Would all the fish in the sea be enough Moses wondered? The LORD answered clearly in verse 23, and in verse 31, approximately 3 FEET of meat rained down from the sky for an area as wide as a day’s walk! Umm, yes, it was enough. He is enough. Trouble was, the Israelites hadn’t thought so, and this chapter ends with a consequence for that.
Interestingly, tonight starts Purim which is a day when the Jews do various things to remember the story of Esther. Because of that, I found myself thinking of some connections between Esther and this reading. In the story of Esther the “bad guy” is Haman, likely a descendant of the Amalekites…..an Arab tribe that lived in the Desert of Paran where the Israelites hung out in today’s reading. Kinda interesting. Also, yesterday’s reading ended with instructions on Passover remembering the story of God’s provision saving the Israelites through the exodus, and Purim is a day remembering the story of God’s provision saving the same people through Esther. Plus, Esther lived in royalty not known as a Jew initially, similarly to how we see Moses starting his life as prince of Egypt.
Whether we read Numbers, Esther, or something else, we can remember that the LORD is sovereign, He wants us to remember Him, to trust Him, and to be set apart for Him. And if you want to look up some fun Purim ideas, there are plenty. At our house tomorrow in fact, I’ll have a “Girls Bible Club” of little ladies blowing noisemakers when they hear Haman’s name, eating Hamantaschen, reading the story of Esther. . . and hopefully. . . not complaining!
- What do you find yourself whining, grumbling or complaining about? What might God be thinking or feeling or even doing as a result of your whining/grumbling/complaining/bad attitude?
- What are some of the things the Israelites were forgetting when they were grumbling? How could a better memory help us complain less? What can we do to boost our memory?
- What has God shown about Himself in today’s reading? What do you learn about the length of His arm?