Through the Bible Day by Day
And 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.
THE MURMURING FLESH-LOVERS
We cannot wonder at the people’s murmuring. They were unaccustomed to the fatigues of the desert, and had not realized the length of the journey. Let us beware of querulous complaints. See 1Co_10:10. Let us also guard against familiarity with those who have never known God’s regenerating grace. “The mixed multitude” was largely composed of Egyptians, whose evil example spread to the chosen people, Exo_12:38. When our religious life is low, we tire of angels’ food, and our hearts turn back to the world we have left.
Moses’ outcry is hardly to be wondered at. He was thoroughly overstrained by the immense demands of his life. But he ought not to have spoken as though the entire weight of the pilgrimage rested on him. His Almighty Friend was bearing and carrying them during “all the days of old.” See Isa_63:9. We must never look at our responsibilities apart from Him who makes all grace abound, 2Co_9:8.
And 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.
GOD’S SPIRIT UPON THE SEVENTY
God’s considerateness for His overwrought servant was very tender. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He does not chide, nor keep His anger forever. The remedy for the situation was provided in the appointment and enduement of the seventy elders, who became the germ of the Sanhedrin.
Moses’ depression led to unbelief. It seemed impossible to suppose that God could provide a table in the wilderness of such magnitude that in it the whole host could participate. Unbelief says, Can God? Faith answers, God can! See Psa_78:19. Child of God! God’s hand is not waxed short, that it cannot reach to you. Even if we believe not, He remains faithful, 2Ti_2:13. This equipment of the elders, Num_11:25, reminds us that we, too, need to receive the Holy Spirit, first for our sanctification in character, and then for our service and office. This is the special characteristic of Pentecost, Act_2:1-4.
But 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.
“THE GRAVES OF LUST”
It is delightful to note the proof of the nobility of Moses’ nature in the answer he gave to the tidings concerning Eldad and Medad. They might not be of the designated group of elders, and might not have gone out to the Tabernacle, as in Num_11:16. They remind us of the unordained and simple disciples of Act_11:19, etc. But there was no envy in Moses’ nature. He would have been only thankful if all had reached a degree of grace even beyond his own attainment.
The quails came. They flew in prodigious flocks, which darkened the air. Exhausted by their long flight, they hovered within three feet of the ground, and so were easily captured. But the passionate haste in eating brought its own terrible nemesis to the Israelites. The story became engraved in the very name given to their halting place, Psa_106:15. My soul, beware lest thou also be precipitated by thy passionate desires into that gravel Gal_5:17.