Friday, January 30, 2009

Numbers 11:16-35 - Quail and the Spirit

Listen to podcast
Wordle: Sermon: Numbers 11:16-35 - Quail and the Spirit

Pray and Read: Numbers 11:16-35

Key Truth: Moses wrote Numbers 11:16-23, 31-35 to teach the Israelites the importance of the Word of God and the Spirit and the trap of operating in the flesh.

Key Application: Today I want to warn you about what God’s Word says about rejecting the Lord and embracing the flesh.

Sermon Points:

1. Beware of rejecting the Word of God (Numbers 11:18-23)

2. Beware of ignoring the Spirit (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-30)

3. Beware of choosing the flesh (Numbers 11:31-35)

Exposition: Note well,


a. The people had grown to hate the manna (see Num 11:6) through familiarity. Manna is a figure of the Word of God.

b. APPLICATION: Beware of rejecting the Scripture as the Word. The Scripture’s purpose is found in 2 Timothy 3:16, and its purposes are teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. In our flesh we don’t usually like at least half of those words. We don’t like being rebuked. That means being called out on something. In our flesh, we don’t usually like being corrected, because sometimes the correction stings a little.

c. Even Moses had grown in unbelief. After all he had been through, Moses distrusted that the Lord could do what He said he would do. Moses has been so close to his situation, so embroiled in all the problems, so tired, that he cannot back up to see God’s presence and miraculous work. Moses had gotten in the flesh, too.

d. APPLICATION: Oftentimes our fatigue brings us to a place of unbelief. That’s a big problem. When we get so deep into things that we cannot see the forest for the trees, we lose perspective and direction. Have you been working hard to do the right thing, do it with excellence, but all around you is mumbling and grumbling? Are you tired? Don’t let unbelief and a critical spirit creep in on you. Ask the Lord to pull you back to see the big picture from His perspective, gain the hope that you need from Him before moving forward, or you might make a big mistake in the flesh based on unbelief and a critical attitude.

e. Jesus called himself manna as the Word of God, too. He explained this in John 6:30-33, 48-51. The gospel of John opens by pointing to Jesus (John 1:1-4, 14).

f. APPLICATION: Beware of rejecting the Lord Jesus as the Word. He is the only answer we have for salvation.

2. BEWARE OF IGNORING THE SPIRIT (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-30).

a. The Jewish Sanhedrin of the New Testament claimed the precedent here in Numbers 11 for seventy members. Jesus likewise sent out seventy to assist Him in his work (Luke 10:1). There were seventy elders at Mount Sinai who went up on the mountain (Exodus 24:1), selected for that purpose at that time. These leaders were God’s response to Moses’ problem. These 70 chosen from among the leadership tapped in Exodus 18 will now help Moses with governing Israel.

b. These 70 begin to prophesy as a sign that they are the ones God has chosen for this work in helping Moses. Prophesying means they were speaking the word of God. Similarity to Acts 2 at Pentecost.

c. Eldad and Medad: Eldad’s name means “God loved,” and Medad’s name means “Love,” but is the named used for “Uncle,” your father’s brother. Hence probably the Jewish tradition that these were Moses’ relatives (actually half-brothers).[1]

d. We don’t know know why Eldad and Medad did not show up when their names were written as the seventy to be there for this special occasion. Perhaps they had a legitimate family emergency, but the text doesn’t give us that indication. It simply says (v. 26) they remained in the camp. The inference is that they didn’t see the importance of going all the way down to the tabernacle for any meeting that was called. They had better things to do with their time than go stand and wait to see what the Holy Spirit would do. If they were indeed relatives, their action would foreshadow Numbers 12:1-16 in which Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses. They perhaps didn’t particularly like who was in leadership down there.

e. Keil & Delitzsch: This miraculous manifestation of the Spirit was intended simply to give to the whole nation the visible proof that God had endowed them with His Spirit, as helpers of Moses, and had given them the authority required for the exercise of their calling. [2]

3. BEWARE OF CHOOSING THE FLESH (Numbers 11:31-35)

a. There is a play on words going on here in the Hebrew. The word for Spirit and wind are the same word, ruach. So now a wind from the Lord brings in the quail that they wanted. Psalm 78:26.

b. Meat would come out of their nostrils, ie., would make them nauseous, and vomiting.

c. Kibbroth-Hattavah means “graves of craving.” Graves dug by lust, or graves of greed.

d. Operating in the flesh means doing things the way I want to, doing things without submission to the Holy Spirit, forcing your own way without regard to the Lord or His Word. Do you see the result? Death. Romans 8:5-8 explain the carnal or fleshly way of living. Living in the flesh invites death. Life in the spirit brings life and peace.

e. Some people live that way as Christians all the time. You show no evidence whatsoever that you are a believer. You think your way is always the right way, and you force it on others. You don’t care what the consequences or who might be hurt, you want your way right here, right now, and you give the Lord and His church a bad name.

f. APPLICATION: We all get in the flesh sometimes, and that is usually the times we say something we wish we hadn’t or do something we wish we hadn’t. But if you are living in the flesh as a Christian, it is time to repent and get your life submitted afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Invitation: If you exhibit carnality and fleshly attitudes normally, then it is good to ask yourself whether you even know the Lord. The door is open today. No one is turned away. Salvation is available for the worst of sinners. Won’t you receive Him now as your Lord?

[1] John Gill’s Commentary on the Bible, Numbers 11:24-30 quoting the Targum of Jonathan.

[2] Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Num 11:24-30.