The Story Of Moses And The Complaining People

The story of Moses is an interesting one. The Israelite nation experienced a historical turning point under his leadership. But his story began well before God called him to lead that nation.

And it continued even after his death. But when we get to this part of his story, Moses found himself dealing with some very unhappy people.

Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. Numbers 11:10

God supplied the entire nation with food called manna. It consisted of a very pleasant-tasting substance, but it needed to be collected and prepared every day.

The manna looked like small coriander seeds, and it was pale yellow like gum resin. The people would go out and gather it from the ground.  Numbers 11:7-8,9

  • They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars.
  • Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes.
  • These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil.
  • The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night. Numbers 11:9

But some of the people in the camp weren’t satisfied with it. Verse 4 says that foreigners traveling with the Israelites began to complain. Which also stirred some Israelites to complain.

We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna! Numbers 11:5-6

In this part of the story, God became extremely angry and the aggravation in Moses surfaced. He asked God why he needed to put up with their whining.

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Moses was Ready for His Story to End

And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Numbers 11:11

He was at the end of his rope. Moses told God in so many words to just end his story right then and there.

I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery! Numbers 11:14-15

Well the Lord wasn’t interested in killing Moses. He planned on taking care of the problem in a different way. In fact, God had a long-term solution and a short-term one.

Story of Moses

The Short-Term Solution

Let’s look at the short-term solution first. In this part of the story, the people told Moses, they wanted more than manna. They wanted meat. So God told them they would get it, plenty of it.

You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” Numbers 11:20

Looking at it from a human standpoint, Moses had no idea how this would happen. Nor did he know what kind of meat God had in mind.

But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?” Numbers 11:21-22

The Lord assured His servant Moses that He could and would do everything He promised. Moses was a man of faith but in this case, seeing was believing.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!” Numbers 11:23

God’s Long-Term Solution

Because of the pressure created by all the complaints that Moses had to bear, God’s long-term solution involved other people. So He gave Moses the following instructions.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. Numbers 11:16

When God gives anyone a job to do whether it’s Moses or you, He always provides what we need. In this part of the story, God equipped 70 other men to help Moses.

I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone. Numbers 11:17

God still uses this long-term solution even today. He has a body of believers with one person who is the head. His name is Jesus!

Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. Colossians 1:18

But God has also given gifts to the church. They will continue until we all come to unity in our faith so the church can achieve His will.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  Ephesians 4:11-12

Like Moses, We Also Have a Story

So, just like Moses, we also have a story. Just like Moses, we are called to do the work God has equipped us to do. And just like Moses, we don’t have to do it alone.

I don’t know if any of the 70 men that Moses chose were among the complainers. If they were, God changed them. If you are a complainer let Him change you and fill you with His Spirit.

Lord, be the author of our story just like you were for Moses and his story.

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