• Introduction: In our OT reading for today, Moses snapped under the pressure foisted upon him by a band of Israelites complaining about the food.  We can tell from the intensity of what Moses said to the Lord per Num 11:11 - 11 … “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have put the burden of all this people on me[1]?  I suspect if the lack of meat would have been the only issue, Moses probably wouldn’t have lashed out at the Lord.  Listen to the complaints Moses heard from the people - Now the rabble who were among them had greedy cravings; and the sons of Israel also wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat for free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna![2]”  After what Moses and the Israelites had gone through at this point of the exodus from the slavery of Egypt, the reminiscing about the “good ole days” of Egypt probably was the toughest thing to hear.
    • Everyone here can probably think of a time when we lashed out in frustration and despair over what is happening in our lives; and to make matters worse, can’t do a thing about it.
    • Why would God drive us or let us be driven to the point of frustration and despair?  The Apostle Paul was not a leader of a large group of people.  Nonetheless, he too felt the depths of frustration and despair in his service to the people whom God called him to serve.
    • We will look into some things Paul wrote by inspiration. Additionally, we will take a deeper dive into what led to this situation with Moses, and how God addressed it in bringing relief (Num 11:17).
  • Let Us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, Your servant Moses apparently snapped under pressure of leading 2M of Your people through the desert from Egypt to Mt Sinai in Saudi Arabia.  Moses was angry with You and with the people to the point of frustration and despair. He went so far as to ask You to kill him.  In Your mercy, You heard the complaints of Moses’ soul and in compassion,  and provided people to assists Moses with this burden.  Remind us that we are very dependent upon You just as Moses was reminded, and that You work all things for the good of those who look to You.  We pray this, Father, through Your Son Christ, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
  • Background: God called Moses to lead His people, though Moses didn’t want to go (Ex 4:10,13).  Recall from Exodus ch#3 how Moses saw a bush burning on Mt Sinai that would not be consumed (Ex 3:02)?  It kept burning and so Moses went up onto the mountain to check out how this was possible. A preincarnate Jesus called out to Moses from the bush and identified Himself as the God of the fathers of Moses. Jesus then instructed Moses to go back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt.  Moses was 80yrs old at the time and had a family. He didn’t need to start another career of being a leader of 2,000,000 people, nor did he want to.  So, Moses started to push back with Jesus and said - 10 … “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.[3]”  That didn’t get anywhere, because Jesus reminded Moses who it was that made man and his senses.  Moses then tried this one - 13 … “Please, Lord, now send the message [of rescue] by whomever You will.[4]”  That just got Jesus angry with Moses, but Jesus nonetheless came up with the solution to have Moses’ brother, Aaron, speak to the people the messages that Moses would repeat from the Lord.
    • Moses eventually did what Jesus told him to do.  After Moses met up with Aaron, they approached the Israelites and told them the sweet Gospel news of God having heard their prayers and complaints and was now going to do something about it.  No doubt everyone in the Israelite camp had their own idea on how God was going to do that.  However, I don’t think there were many who thought of the plan where God would inflict ten plagues onto Egypt.  This is the compulsion God had in mind that we read from Ex 3:19-21 – “19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20 So I will reach out with My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed[5].”   After Moses & Aaron met with the Pharaoh of Egypt requesting Pharaoh let the Israelites take a 3-day journey into the wilderness to worship the Lord, Pharaoh made it tougher on the Israelites by making them not only make bricks, but now also gather the straw used to reinforce the bricks.  So much for a redemptive strategy to get the Israelites out of slavery – or so they thought.  The people cursed Moses & Aaron, because their hardship actually got worse after hearing about how God was going to redeem them from slavery.
      • Before we sit in judgement of the ancient Israelites, we too, hear each week about God’s love for us.  But then something comes up that seems like the end of the world, and immediately we want to curse God for not taking care of us.  You might even say, “things have actually gotten worse since the something was prayed about!” ☹
  • Situation: Let’s fast-forward to the time of our OT text for today.  2,000,000 Israelites have personally witnessed Egypt get pummeled with the Ten Plagues.  They walked on dry ground through the seabed of the Gulf of Aqaba portion of the Red Sea.  They saw the Egyptian army get stuck in the same dirt they had no problem walking on. And yet, along the way, the people complained about only having bread from heaven dropped down on them 6 of 7 days each week. They longed for the good ole days of all you can eat fish and vegetables.
    • It was the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak as far as Moses was concerned.  God made Moses lead these stiff-necked people.  Remember, he tried 2x to get out of the job.  And now the people had zero appreciation for what God had done for them.
      • Moses wanted God to kill him in mercy! Listen to my more literal interpretation of Num 11:15 - 15 So if You do thus to me, kill me to death, if I have found mercy alongside you, so that I do not behold my bad.[6]”  What Moses meant by the “do thus” is God continuing to force Moses to carry the Israelites like they were nursing infants who were totally helpless and had to depend 100% on Moses for sustenance.  Moses had had it up to here with this whole assignment and was mad at God and mad at the short-sighted people who quickly forgot about all the blessings they have received on the way to the Promised Land.
  • Analysis: Perhaps you can identify with Moses’ frustration and despair?
    • Many pastors and caregivers suffer with depression for a variety of reasons.  I cannot violate a trust and name names, but I have heard from professors at the seminary as well as pastors throughout my entire life who have struggled at times to shepherd a portion of the Lord’s flock in this Age.  I can personally identify with Moses and the prophets along with contemporary pastors and healthcare workers who have way more responsibility to care for people than they can possibly cover.  And yet equally, none of us can imagine doing anything else but serve the Lord’s people.
      • Frustration and despair come with the territory of caring for God’s people. If you have raised children, you know firsthand how frustrating it can be to keep having to teach the same thing over & over again.  Or, repeatedly scold for something the kid should know by now.  It is tough work to work against sin-corrupted flesh that runs in the opposite direction of God and His word.
      • Like the Apostle Paul, as spiritual and physical care-givers, we are under constant attack by a thorn in the flesh (2Co 12:7-10).  Paul mentioned in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians a thorn in the flesh put there by God to keep Paul from being conceited, after the revelations he had personally received from the Lord Jesus firsthand.  Paul didn’t have the Mediterranean Sea ever parted for him to serve as a lasting reminder of God’s grace.  So, God had to “give” Paul something else to forever remind Paul of his dependance on the Lord for everything.
    • I’ve given two examples of champions in the faith from the Bible who suffered mental and physical anguish as a result of being called by our Lord to serve.  Why does God allow His people to suffer so much?  ‘Just a reminder: it wasn’t His idea for us to rebel in sin and therefore be forever separated from Him.  That was never in His plans.
  • Conclusion: The reason there is suffering is because if everything went our way, we wouldn’t perceive the need for a savior.  We’d have everything just the way we want it.  We’d be fat, dumb, and happy as the expression goes.  That’s how corrupt we are in sin without Jesus’ redemption from the slavery of sin.  We would remain governed by the flesh if the Holy Spirit weren’t working in us to turn from our sinful ways and live.  We need God to rule in our life, and not allow us to glorify ourselves.  I love what the Apostle Paul wrote also in 2nd Corinthians - But we have this treasure [of Christ] in earthen containers [our bodies], so that the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body[7].  It is not some sick, demented, sadistic desire of our Lord to make us suffer in life.  What God has done is warn us through His word that we will have troubles at times far beyond what we think we can handle.  That’s because of the sinful corruption of this Age that we brought onto ourselves.
    • He reminds us of these tribulations lest we forget about Him and His great love for us.  We saw how in 5 short days Jack Whittaker, mega-lottery winner in our message from last week, went from wanting to do all to the glory of God to becoming a frequent guest at a local strip club.  Wouldn’t it have been great if Jack had regular reminders of his dependence on the Lord for everything and not his $113M windfall?
      • In Numbers 11, the Israelites had already forgotten the plagues God inflicted upon Egypt on their behalf.  God was so protective, that after the 3rd plague, none of the subsequent plagues occurred where the Israelites lived.  This was just another one of those details they forgot about when complaining about this manna God was shoveling down their throats each day.
        • Their short memory occurred despite the lasting reminder of the Passover (Ex 12:25-27).  The Passover meal was to be eaten with family together as a lasting reminder on how God passed over the houses with blood on the door posts from the lamb which was slaughtered.  The Angel of Death passed over the houses of anyone who were marked with the blood of the sacrifice.  Each year on the 14th day of the first month of the year, they were to do this. Jews are still celebrating the Passover to 2021 and beyond.  We celebrate each Sunday the Lord’s Supper which was to be celebrated for the forgiveness of sins.  The Paschal Lamb is provided each Sunday here at Christus Rex, in the body and blood we receive with the bread and wine served at the Lord’s altar.  This forgiveness of sins is incorporated into a lasting remembrance of Jesus who is the Lamb of God slaughtered for this meal of the New Covenant.  We need to guard against the same forgetfulness as the ancient Israelites.
      • The whining Israelites forgot how the Lord gave them an escape from the Egyptian army (Ex 14:21-22, 29).
        • You may ask, how could this be, despite them confessing their rescue in the Song of Moses?  I encourage you to look into Ex 15:1-18 to read through the Song of Moses that everyone sang after it was clear the Egyptian army was totally annihilated.
      • There is detail in Exodus 15 that is part of a confession of what they witnessed had happened to the most powerful army on earth.  The army was drowned in the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea after thinking they trapped the Israelites between mountains and the sea (Ex 14:27-28).
    • One take-away from Moses’ rant before the Lord is God wants to hear from us the good, the bad, the ugly.
      • Of these three, which did God hear from Moses in Num 11:11-15?  Maybe it’s okay to let loose once in a while and pour your heart and soul out before the Lord.  I wouldn’t make it a habit of screaming at the Lord though.  There should be room for praise and thanksgiving in our prayer life.
      • God has promised to hear everything we bring before Him, as we were reminded last week in John ch’s 14-16 inclusive.
    • Prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus will be heard.  He will act to lighten the burdens just as was done for Moses in the OT Pentecost (Num 11:16-17).  70 men were appointed to assist Moses in the leading of 2 million Israelites.
      • The past few weeks, we have had Epistle readings from the NT Book of James. The Epistle for today gave instruction on speaking to God in prayer.  It’s worth re-reading highlights from Jas 5:13-16 - 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much. 
      • Jesus spoke to Moses words of comfort and peace.  Jesus also spoke to us to come to Him for rest.  I end with this lovely reminder of Jesus’ desire for us all - 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.[8]” Moses’ disrespectful rant was nonetheless heard by our Lord, who acted on Moses frustration and despair.  The Lord provided relief, and it sounds like from what Jesus was recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew, He will do the same for us. Amen!


 


[1] Num 11:11 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=num+11&version=NASB

[2] Num 11:4-6 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers%2011&version=NASB

[3] Ex 4:10 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%204&version=NASB

[4] Ex 4:13, IBID

[5] Ex 3:19-21 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%203&version=NASB

[6] Num 11:15 from an original translation the Greek Septuagint at https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb20/num/11/1/t_conc_128015

[7] 2Co 4:7-10 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2co+4&version=NASB

[8] Mat 11:28-30 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+11&version=NASB