Numbers 11

* The burning at Taberah. (1-3) The people lust for flesh, and

loathe the manna. (4-9) Moses complains of his charge. (10-15)

Elders appointed to divide the charge. Flesh meat promised.

(16-23) The Spirit rests on the elders. (24-30) Quails are

given. (31-35)

1-3 Here is the people's sin; they complained. See the

sinfulness of sin, which takes occasion from the commandment to

be provoking. The weakness of the law discovered sin, but could

not destroy it; checked, but could not conquer it. They

complained. Those who are of a discontented spirit, will always

find something to quarrel or fret about, though the

circumstances of their outward condition be ever so favourable.

The Lord heard it, though Moses did not. God knows the secret

frettings and murmurings of the heart, though concealed from

men. What he noticed, he was much displeased with, and he

chastised them for this sin. The fire of their wrath against God

burned in their minds; justly did the fire of God's wrath fasten

on their bodies; but God's judgments came on them gradually,

that they might take warning. It appeared that God delights not

in punishing; when he begins, he is soon prevailed with to let

it fall.
4-9 Man, having forsaken his proper rest, feels uneasy and

wretched, though prosperous. They were weary of the provision

God had made for them, although wholesome food and nourishing.

It cost no money or care, and the labour of gathering it was

very little indeed; yet they talked of Egypt's cheapness, and

the fish they ate there freely; as if that cost them nothing,

when they paid dearly for it with hard service! While they lived

on manna, they seemed exempt from the curse sin has brought on

man, that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread; yet they

speak of it with scorn. Peevish, discontented minds will find

fault with that which has no fault in it, but that it is too

good for them. Those who might be happy, often make themselves

miserable by discontent. They could not be satisfied unless they

had flesh to eat. It is evidence of the dominion of the carnal

mind, when we want to have the delights and satisfaction of

sense. We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot in

faith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for our

lust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does not

allot it to us, yet we desire it.
10-15 The provocation was very great; yet Moses expressed

himself otherwise than became him. He undervalued the honour God

had put upon him. He magnified his own performances, while he

had the Divine wisdom to direct him, and Almighty power to

dispense rewards and punishments. He speaks distrustfully of the

Divine grace. Had the work been much less he could not have gone

through it in his own strength; but had it been much greater,

through God strengthening him, he might have done it. Let us

pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation.
16-23 Moses is to choose such as he knew to be elders, that is,

wise and experienced men. God promises to qualify them. If they

were not found fit for the employ, they should be made fit. Even

the discontented people shall be gratified too, that every mouth

may be stopped. See here, I. The vanity of all the delights of

sense; they will cloy, but they will not satisfy. Spiritual

pleasures alone will satisfy and last. As the world passes away,

so do the lusts of it. 2. What brutish sins gluttony and

drunkenness are! they make that to hurt the body which should be

its health. Moses objects. Even true and great believers

sometimes find it hard to trust God under the discouragements of

second causes, and against hope to believe in hope. God here

brings Moses to this point, The Lord God is Almighty; and puts

the proof upon the issue, Thou shalt see whether my word shall

come to pass or not. If he speaks, it is done.
24-30 We have here the fulfilment of God's word to Moses, that

he should have help in the government of Israel. He gave of his

Spirit to the seventy elders. They discoursed to the people of

the things of God, so that all who heard them might say, that

God was with them of a truth. Two of the elders, Eldad and

Medad, went not out unto the tabernacle, as the rest, being

sensible of their own weakness and unworthiness. But the Spirit

of God found them in the camp, and there they exercised their

gift of praying, preaching, and praising God; they spake as

moved by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is not confined to

the tabernacle, but, like the wind, blows where He listeth. And

they that humble themselves shall be exalted; and those who are

most fit for government, are least ambitious of it. Joshua does

not desire that they should be punished, but only restrained for

the future. This motion he made out of zeal for what he thought

to be the unity of the church. He would have them silenced, lest

they should occasion a schism, or should rival Moses; but Moses

was not afraid of any such effects from that Spirit which God

had put upon them. Shall we reject those whom Christ has owned,

or restrain any from doing good, because they are not in every

thing of our mind? Moses wishes all the Lord's people were

prophets, that he would put his Spirit upon all of them. Let the

testimony of Moses be believed by those who desire to be in

power; that government is a burden. It is a burden of care and

trouble to those who make conscience of the duty of it; and to

those who do not, it will prove a heavier burden in the day of

account. Let the example of Moses be followed by those in power;

let them not despise the advice and assistance of others, but

desire it, and be thankful for it. If all the present number of

the Lord's people were rendered prophets, or ministers, by the

Spirit of Christ, though not all agreed in outward matters,

there is work enough for all, in calling sinners to repentance,

and faith in our Lord Jesus.
31-35 God performed his promise to the people, in giving them

flesh. How much more diligent men are in collecting the meat

that perishes, than in labouring for meat which endures to

everlasting life! We are quick-sighted in the affairs of time;

but stupidity blinds us as to the concerns of eternity. To

pursue worldly advantages, we need no arguments; but when we are

to secure the true riches, then we are all forgetfulness. Those

who are under the power of a carnal mind, will have their lusts

fulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of their

precious souls. They paid dearly for their feasts. God often

grants the desires of sinners in wrath, while he denies the

desires of his own people in love. What we unduly desire, if we

obtain it, we have reason to fear, will be some way or other a

grief and cross to us. And what multitudes there are in all

places, who shorten their lives by excess of one kind or other!

Let us seek for those pleasures which satisfy, but never

surfeit; and which will endure for evermore.
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