Numbers 11:10
Then Moses heard the people of family after family weeping at the entrance of their tents, and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly, and Moses also was displeased.
Sermons
The Disastrous Consequences of the Sin of DiscontentE.S. Prout Numbers 11:10
The Complainers, and How God Made Answer to Their ComplaintsW. Binnie Numbers 11:4-15; 31-35
Affliction Preferable to SinSpurgeon, Charles HaddonNumbers 11:10-15
Afflictions May be Full of MerciesT. L. Cuyler.Numbers 11:10-15
Seeing Afflictions from God's StandpoinSpurgeon, Charles HaddonNumbers 11:10-15
The Burdens of LeadershipW. Jones.Numbers 11:10-15
The Expostulation of MosesD. Young Numbers 11:10-15
The Sufferings of the Good in the Path of DutyW. Jones.Numbers 11:10-15
Discontent springs from distrust. Distrust is a root-sin from which different kindred evils spring, such as discontent, dissatisfaction, disgust, disobedience, and other disagreeable states of mind. But "those that know thy name," &c. (Psalm 9:10; Lamentations 3:24). From these strange cairns in the wilderness, "the graves of lust," we hear a voice (1 Corinthians 10:6).

I. THE DISCONTENT OF THE ISRAELITES.

II. ITS DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES.

I.

1. Its disgraceful origin: "the mixed multitude," "hangers-on," "rift-raft." The chosen people of God listened and sympathized with them rather than with Moses and God. Apply to worldlings grumbling about weather, homes, situations, incomes, &c. (Proverbs 1:10; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14).

2. The gross ingratitude of it. They were dissatisfied with the manna, which was wholesome, abundant, and adapted to various uses (verses 7-9), as though Hindoos should quarrel with their rice or the English with their wheat (1 Timothy 6:8). They recollect certain casual sensual advantages of past bondage, but forget its cruelties and degradation (verses 4-6). Why not remember the whips and fetters and infanticide? They think of suppers more than sufferings, of full stomachs rather than of famished souls. Let Christians beware of hankering after the indulgences of their old life (Proverbs 23:3; 1 John 2:15). And they complain of temporary deprivations, though hastening to a home of permanent and abundant good. They were passing through "that great and terrible wilderness" (Paran) because it was the direct route to the promised land (Deuteronomy 1:19; cf. 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 2:11).

3. The aggravations of it. For they had seen God's power already (Exodus 16:13; Psalm 78:19, 20). And have not we? (cf. Psalm 22:4, 5, 9, 10). And they overlooked recent chastisement (verse 1). God forbid that Isaiah 26:11 should be true of us, lest Proverbs 29, I should be also.

II. The disastrous results of their sin.

1. They angered Jehovah. Discontent in the guests of his bounty dishonours their generous host, as though Reuben bad complained because Joseph gave more to Benjamin (Genesis 43:34).

2. They grieved Moses, and even infected him with their own desponding spirit (verses 11-15; see sketch below). Note how sin may become epidemic, spreading from the mixed multitude to the Israelites, and thence to Moses, like a disease introduced by foreign sailors spreading to our homes and palaces. Beware of carrying infection (Illustration, Asaph, Psalm 73:11-15).

3. They got what they desired, but are ruined thereby. Moses' prayer for help is answered in mercy (verses 16, 17); theirs for flesh, in judgment (verses 18-20). They probably added gluttony to lust, and perished in the sight of plenty and at the moment of gratification (cf. Job 20:22, 23; Psalm 78:30, 31). Learn -

1. Prayers of discontent may bring answers of destruction. E.g., Rachel demanding children, and the Israelites a king. Greater wealth but worse health (Ecclesiastes 6:1, 2); worldly prosperity, but leanness of soul (Psalm 106:15; 1 Timothy 6:9; James 4:4).

2. The blessedness of a contented trust (Philippians 4:11-13; Hebrews 13:5). - P.







Wherefore hast Thou afflicted Thy servant?
I. Look at the afflictions of godly men in the path of duty AS A FACT.

1. Good men suffer afflictions.

2. Good men suffer affliction in the path of duty.

II. Look at the afflictions of godly men in the path of duty AS A PROBLEM.

1. A difficulty. Moses felt it.

2. Faith in the power of God to remove the difficulty.

III. OFFER SOME HINTS TOWARDS THE SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM. The afflictions of the good in the path of duty, under the blessing of God, tend.

1. To test their faith. "Character," says Dr. Huntington, " depends on inward strength. But this strength has two conditions; it is increased only by being put forth, and it is tested only by some resistance. So, if the spiritual force or character in you is to be strong, it must be measured against some competition. It must enter into conflict with an antagonist. It must stand in comparison with something formidable enough to be a standard of its power Suffering, then, in some of its forms, must be introduced — the appointed minister, the great essayist — to put the genuineness of faith to the proof and purify it of its dross."

2. To promote their perfection. "As the Perfect One reached His perfectness through suffering," says Dr. Ferguson, "so it was with His servant. It was through the fire and the flame that the law of separation and refinement acted on the whole nature, and gave to it higher worth and glory. Trial ripened his manly spirit and made it patient to endure."

3. To enhance their joy hereafter (cf. Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18; Revelation 7:14-17).

4. To promote the good of the race. The Christian is called to "know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings" — to suffer vicariously with Him that others may be saved and blessed. In the privilege of this high fellowship the sharpest sufferings become sacred and exalting services.Conclusion:

1. Severe afflictions in the path of duty are in full accord with the character of God.

2. Such sufferings are quite compatible with the favour of God towards us (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11).

3. When severe suffering leads to sore perplexity let us seek help of God (cf. Psalm 73:16, 17).

(W. Jones.)

I. THAT THE POSITION OF LEADER OR GOVERNOR OF MEN IS A VERY TRYING ONE.

1. Because of the responsible nature of the duties of leadership.

2. Because of the interest which the true leader takes in his charge.

3. Because of the intractableness of men.

II. THE TRUE LEADER OF MEN MUST OFTEN BE PAINFULLY CONSCIOUS OF HIS INSUFFICIENCY.

III. THE ABLEST AND HOLIEST LEADERS OF MEN SOMETIMES FAIL UNDER THE BURDENS OF THEIR POSITION. Conclusion:

1. Great honours involve great obligations.

2. A man may fail even in the strongest point of his character. Moses was pre-eminently meek, yet here he is petulant, &c. Therefore, "Watch thou in all things," &c.

3. It is the duty of men not to increase, but if possible to lessen the difficulties and trials of leadership.

(W. Jones.)

Christian friend, did you ever take your stand beside your God, and see what there is to be seen? Do so; and it may be that, in your deprivations and disappointments, you will behold a wonderful and beautiful arrangement by which you can glorify God far better than by the gratification of your own selfish and earth-bound desires. Never were the Israelites better off than when they had just enough manna for the day, and not a morsel over; and it may be you are richer and happier in your present condition than you could have been in any other. See if it be not so! "I thank God!" said one, "that I lost my all; for it has led me up into many blessed experiences with my God which I never knew while I was held down by the golden chain of worldly possessions. Then my affections were set on things on the earth, but now they rise to heaven." If you see things from God's standpoint your black trouble will appear fringed with brightness, relieving the monotonous darkness upon which you have fixed your steady gaze far too long already. Look at your prolonged affliction from this point of view, and you will discern secret fingers carving the delicate "lily work" which shall adorn you in the upper sanctuary, when you become a pillar in the temple of your God. It may be by the very method so distasteful to you, the cherubim of adoring reverence are being woven into the texture of your being. Yes, do see what there is to be seen, for in every dispensation there is the hand of a Divine purpose, full of love, and wisdom, and grace.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In one of the German picture galleries is a painting called "Cloudland." It hangs at the end of a long gallery, and, at first sight, It looks like a huge, repulsive daub of confused colour, without form or comeliness. As you walk toward it the picture begins to take shape. It proves to be a mass of exquisite little cherub faces, like those at the head of the canvas in Raphael's "Madonna San Sisto." If you come close to the picture you see only an innumerable company of little angels and cherubims. How often the soul that is frightened by trials sees nothing but a confused and repulsive mass of broken expectations and crushed hopes I But if that soul, instead of fleeing away into unbelief and despair, would only draw up near to God, it would soon discover that the cloud was full of angels Of mercy. In one cherub face it would see, "Whom I love, I chasten." Another angel would say, "All things work together for good to them that love God."

(T. L. Cuyler.)

Here are two guests come to my door; both of them ask to have a lodging with me. The one is called Affliction; he has a very grave voice, and a very heavy hand, and he looks at me with fierce eyes. The other is called Sin, and he is very soft-spoken, and very fair, and his words are softer than butter. Let me scan their faces, let me examine them as to their character, I must not be deceived by appearances. I will ask my two friends who would lodge with me, to open their hands. When my friend Affliction, with some little difficulty opens his hand, I find that, rough as it is, he carries a jewel inside it, and that he meant to leave that jewel at my house. But as for my soft-spoken friend Sin, when I force him to show me what that is which he hides in his sleeve, I find that it is a dagger with which he would have stabbed me. What shall I do, then, if I am wise? Why, I should be very glad if they would both be good enough to go and stop somewhere else, but if I must entertain one of the two, I would shut my door in the face of smooth-spoken Sin, and say to the rougher and uglier visitor, Affliction, "Come and stop with me, for may be God sent you as a messenger of mercy to my soul."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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