Numbers 11

Numbers 11 has Moses dealing with some real leadership challenges.  The first was a complaining people.  “And the people complained….about their misfortunes….when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp”.  People whined, God responded and started to consume them beginning at the outskirts of camp.  “The people cried out….and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down”.  Moses sees the pain and God’s anger in full motion and intercedes.  He prays and God backs off.  There is power when a leader prays for his people.

The people are whining about their food.  God is providing manna, but they want meat.  So Moses brings his concern to God.  “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me”? Moses doesn’t like the situation he is in.  God appointed him and ordained him to be leader of the pack.  But he didn’t want it then, and he doesn’t want it now.  Moses makes that clear to God who tells him to “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you”.

Moses is told that “the Lord will give you meat….until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you”.  There will be a lesson taught here.  God is not open to complaining and whining.  You want meat God says?  You’ll get it, and not just some, but far more than you ever wanted.  Moses challenges that word – he can’t see how God can do that.  But God asks a very important question.  “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”  God makes it clear to Moses that He is not limited in His ability to do whatever He chooses.

Moses does as God instructed and brings 70 elders together as God instructed.  God “took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders”.  Moses doesn’t feel any less filled with God’s Spirit.  God isn’t short in that resource area.  But Moses main assistant Joshua got excited when a couple of the elders were in the camp prophesying.  They were cutting into Moses turf.  “And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

Joshua wasn’t going to let anyone take the place of Moses in speaking God’s truth.  But Moses has a very different take.  He doesn’t hold on to that tightly but if willing to let God work through anyone He chose.  Real leadership doesn’t protect turf.  Especially when other competent and Spirit filled leaders are in the mix.  God gave the people their wish – lots and lots and lots of quail – and some spent days gathering this meat for themselves.  Did it satisfy their complaining?  No because “the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague….they buried the people who had the craving”.  What seemed like an answer to prayer was a prescription for death.  Moses interceded the first time, but couldn’t save them from their selfish desires in the end.


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