“And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai…” Numbers 1:1.
After wandering for more than a year the children of Israel, now had a tabernacle in the wilderness of Mt. Sinai. Packing up the tabernacle they traveled northward preparing to enter the promised land. Every man over twenty and able to go to war was counted in preparation for taking possession of a land to call their own. But it wasn’t to be for forty years and would never be for one generation.
“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise:” Numbers 14:34.
For forty years they wandered when an abundant life waited for the taking. The spies gave a favorable report of the land.
“…We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey: and this is the fruit of it.” Num. 13:27.
One thing stood in their way of having the abundant life the LORD promised, the disbelief of ten of the twelve spies when faced with the appearance of insurmountable odds.
The Fourth Book of Moses Called Numbers: The title originates through the Latin translation indicating the two censuses taken, one at the beginning of the book and the other forty years later. Two censuses, two different generations with nearly identical numbers but completely different outcomes.
The Jewish title, Bemidbar, “In the Wilderness” relates to the content of the book. I would add a subtitle of, “A Book of Murmurings.”
This generation of Israelites coming out of Egypt understood entitlement. God brought me here, I’m entitled to be cared for, and the murmuring begins. May we learn from their failure.
Their complaint, weariness. (10:33).
“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it: and his anger was kindled…” How angry was the LORD? “…the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” Numb. 11:1.
The Lord’s Answer:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… IF THEY SHALL ENTER INTO MY REST. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.” (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:5,6).
Another complaint, I’m hungry.
“And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat…there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” 11:4,6b.
The Lord’s Answer:
“…there they buried the people that lusted…But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” From Numb. 11:;1Cor. 10:5,6).
Next complaint, God’s judgment:
“And Moses…spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins…And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up…and all that appertained to them…And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” (From Numbers 16)
The Lord’s Answer:
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; For our God is a consuming fire… For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (Heb.12:28,29; 1Thess. 5:9).
From the beginning of Numbers to the end, the first generation murmured against God losing their opportunity to live in the abundance the Lord promised, and receiving death in the wilderness.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
The thief of abundant life sneaks into our minds causing a spiritual dementia resulting in a diminished capacity to remember the mighty hand of God who has delivered us from sin and death. With our memory gone, the thief then steals the heart’s joy and thanksgiving, leaving an empty heart ready to be filled with discontent. The discontent breeds grumbling, not against our circumstances but our God. The thief has succeeded in eroding our faith and missing the abundant life promised to those who overcome.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith… Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us… For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (1John 5:4: Ep. 3:20; 2Pet. 1:11).
What is an abundant life? No trials, blue skies and sunshine?
What can you do to have an abundant life?
I welcome your comments and questions as we look into the abundance of Numbers.