Numbers 11 is a meaty chapter (pun partially intended). There are several subplots and minor points to be dealt with, but today I’d like for us to focus on an interaction between Moses and the Lord. It reveals a rare picture of doubt on Moses’ part, but maybe one that we can all relate to.
Wednesday, September 30th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Numbers 11
Focused Passage for Reflection - Numbers 11:16-23
Reflecting on the Text:
Do I really believe that God can provide? Do I really believe He will do what He says? Am I willing to act on the belief I claim to possess? Will I put a voice to my belief by boldly praying out loud? Will I move into another person’s hurt, trusting that the Lord will provide what is needed? Will you?
We don’t often ask ourselves these questions out loud. More often, we deal with them as they come. But for many of us, our “dealing” takes on the form of sidestepping. We’re not sure the Lord can act or will act. We’re afraid that if we move out in faith and He doesn’t act we might look the fool. Or, we’re just afraid of getting hurt, so we don’t put ourselves in a place of dependence. So would it help you to know that we might not be the only ones with these struggles?
Moses was the Lord’s anointed. He spoke directly with the Lord. He was called to lead the Lord’s people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land. He had seen the Lord work miracles. He had heard His voice boom over Mount Sinai, proclaiming the Ten Commandments. He had met with the Lord, and yet after all of that, Numbers 11 shows us a moment of doubt.
In this chapter, the people were once again complaining. The manna wasn’t quite satisfying anymore. They wanted meat. Moses heard it and was fed up. “Why me?!?” he cried out to the Lord. Moses was tired of dealing with these people and even went so far as to ask the Lord to just put him out of his misery. Instead, the Lord provided help.
The Lord first told Moses to appoint elders so he wouldn’t be left all to himself. Then He told Moses He was coming to talk to him. In the meeting, the Lord told Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves because the next day there would be meat. In other words, dinner was coming, so act now based merely on the promise. And this promise was a promise of abundance.
Moses heard all of this, but rather than jumping into action, he questioned the Lord. “Lord, are you sure you can do this? There are a lot of people here. We don’t have enough flocks or herds or fish to do what you are promising. Are you sure you didn’t miss this one Lord?” (Obviously my paraphrase.)
Whether he was trying to protect the Lord’s integrity or his own, Moses hesitated to act because down deep, he didn't believe the Lord. Can you relate? I know I can. And that is why the Lord’s response to Moses is also His response to us. In v. 23 the Lord said, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”
We must certainly be careful of a “name it and claim it” theology, but for most of us, the danger is on the opposite end of the pendulum swing. Many of us instead are afraid to name the promises the Lord has claimed. Will you join me in repenting of this practical unbelief? Let us humbly and boldly trust in the Lord, and then move out in faith. Let us pray without fear, and without ceasing. Let us enter into the lives of others, trusting in the Lord to provide. Let us bring our needs before the Lord.
Questions for personal reflection:
Where are you tempted to believe the Lord’s hand is shortened?
How does that belief cause you to try and “play it safe?”
What might it look like for you to repent of unbelief and to turn to the Lord in trusting, acting faith?