God told Abraham that He would provide salvation for His people (Jehovah Jireh – Genesis 22:14) and that is what He taught Israel in the wilderness. The last lesson we looked at in Numbers 11 was a hard lesson for Israel to learn.
“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6
God had provided for Israel’s nutritional needs through the manna that came down from Heaven, but the children of Israel complained about that and compared what God provided for them to how the ungodly Egyptians treated them. The children of Israel actually said they liked the food their Egyptians masters gave them better than what God gave them. Can you believe that? Time for another lesson. God told Moses to gather 70 of the elders of Israel and have them come to the Tabernacle.
“Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.” Numbers 11:25
What a remarkable thing to see! God took of the Holy Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit upon the 70 elders. The elders prophesied at that moment, although they never did so again. Then, it was teaching time.
“Now a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.”
Kibroth Hattaavah means “graves of craving.” The lesson? The people of God must crave God alone. The cravings of the flesh lead to death. Craving God leads to life. The sad truth about this lesson is that Israel did not learn it. The fleshly “cravings” of the Israelites led them astray for centuries.
Another lesson from this is that God stays true to His promises. He made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and kept them, even when Israel didn’t keep their promises to God. The fact is – God loves Israel – and He always will.
“Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said: ‘The Lord came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them. Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words. Moses commanded a law for us, A heritage of the congregation of Jacob. And He was King in Jeshurun, When the leaders of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together. ‘Let Reuben live, and not die, Nor let his men be few.’ And this he said of Judah: ‘Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people; Let his hands be sufficient for him, And may You be a help against his enemies.’ And of Levi he said: ‘Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one, Whom You tested at Massah, And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah, Who says of his father and mother, ‘I have not seen them’; Nor did he acknowledge his brothers, Or know his own children; For they have observed Your word And kept Your covenant. They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, And Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You, And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar. Bless his substance, Lord, And accept the work of his hands; Strike the loins of those who rise against him, And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.’Of Benjamin he said: ‘The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; And he shall dwell between His shoulders.’ And of Joseph he said: ‘Blessed of the Lord is his land, With the precious things of heaven, with the dew, And the deep lying beneath, With the precious fruits of the sun, With the precious produce of the months, With the best things of the ancient mountains, With the precious things of the everlasting hills, With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’ His glory is like a firstborn bull, And his horns like the horns of the wild ox; Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth; They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.’ And of Zebulun he said: ‘Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, And Issachar in your tents! They shall call the peoples to the mountain; There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas And of treasures hidden in the sand.’ And of Gad he said: ‘Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; He dwells as a lion, And tears the arm and the crown of his head. He provided the first part for himself, Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there. He came with the heads of the people; He administered the justice of the Lord, And His judgments with Israel.’ And of Dan he said: ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp; He shall leap from Bashan.’ And of Naphtali he said: ‘O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, And full of the blessing of the Lord, Possess the west and the south.’ And of Asher he said: ‘Asher is most blessed of sons; Let him be favored by his brothers, And let him dip his foot in oil. Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; As your days, so shall your strength be. ‘There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’ Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places.” Deuteronomy 33 1-29
What can Christians learn about God the Father from the lessons He taught Israel in the wilderness? More on that in our next study.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”