Numbers 11* The burning at Taberah. (1-3) The people lust for flesh, andloathe 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 aregiven. (31-35)1-3 Here is the people's sin; they complained. See thesinfulness of sin, which takes occasion from the commandment tobe provoking. The weakness of the law discovered sin, but couldnot destroy it; checked, but could not conquer it. Theycomplained. Those who are of a discontented spirit, will alwaysfind something to quarrel or fret about, though thecircumstances of their outward condition be ever so favourable.The Lord heard it, though Moses did not. God knows the secretfrettings and murmurings of the heart, though concealed frommen. What he noticed, he was much displeased with, and hechastised them for this sin. The fire of their wrath against Godburned in their minds; justly did the fire of God's wrath fastenon their bodies; but God's judgments came on them gradually,that they might take warning. It appeared that God delights notin punishing; when he begins, he is soon prevailed with to letit fall. 4-9 Man, having forsaken his proper rest, feels uneasy andwretched, though prosperous. They were weary of the provisionGod had made for them, although wholesome food and nourishing.It cost no money or care, and the labour of gathering it wasvery little indeed; yet they talked of Egypt's cheapness, andthe fish they ate there freely; as if that cost them nothing,when they paid dearly for it with hard service! While they livedon manna, they seemed exempt from the curse sin has brought onman, that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread; yet theyspeak of it with scorn. Peevish, discontented minds will findfault with that which has no fault in it, but that it is toogood for them. Those who might be happy, often make themselvesmiserable by discontent. They could not be satisfied unless theyhad flesh to eat. It is evidence of the dominion of the carnalmind, when we want to have the delights and satisfaction ofsense. We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot infaith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for ourlust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does notallot it to us, yet we desire it. 10-15 The provocation was very great; yet Moses expressedhimself otherwise than became him. He undervalued the honour Godhad put upon him. He magnified his own performances, while hehad the Divine wisdom to direct him, and Almighty power todispense rewards and punishments. He speaks distrustfully of theDivine grace. Had the work been much less he could not have gonethrough it in his own strength; but had it been much greater,through God strengthening him, he might have done it. Let uspray, 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 theywere not found fit for the employ, they should be made fit. Eventhe discontented people shall be gratified too, that every mouthmay be stopped. See here, I. The vanity of all the delights ofsense; they will cloy, but they will not satisfy. Spiritualpleasures alone will satisfy and last. As the world passes away,so do the lusts of it. 2. What brutish sins gluttony anddrunkenness are! they make that to hurt the body which should beits health. Moses objects. Even true and great believerssometimes find it hard to trust God under the discouragements ofsecond causes, and against hope to believe in hope. God herebrings Moses to this point, The Lord God is Almighty; and putsthe proof upon the issue, Thou shalt see whether my word shallcome to pass or not. If he speaks, it is done. 24-30 We have here the fulfilment of God's word to Moses, thathe should have help in the government of Israel. He gave of hisSpirit to the seventy elders. They discoursed to the people ofthe things of God, so that all who heard them might say, thatGod was with them of a truth. Two of the elders, Eldad andMedad, went not out unto the tabernacle, as the rest, beingsensible of their own weakness and unworthiness. But the Spiritof God found them in the camp, and there they exercised theirgift of praying, preaching, and praising God; they spake asmoved by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is not confined tothe tabernacle, but, like the wind, blows where He listeth. Andthey that humble themselves shall be exalted; and those who aremost fit for government, are least ambitious of it. Joshua doesnot desire that they should be punished, but only restrained forthe future. This motion he made out of zeal for what he thoughtto be the unity of the church. He would have them silenced, lestthey should occasion a schism, or should rival Moses; but Moseswas not afraid of any such effects from that Spirit which Godhad put upon them. Shall we reject those whom Christ has owned,or restrain any from doing good, because they are not in everything of our mind? Moses wishes all the Lord's people wereprophets, that he would put his Spirit upon all of them. Let thetestimony of Moses be believed by those who desire to be inpower; that government is a burden. It is a burden of care andtrouble to those who make conscience of the duty of it; and tothose who do not, it will prove a heavier burden in the day ofaccount. Let the example of Moses be followed by those in power;let them not despise the advice and assistance of others, butdesire it, and be thankful for it. If all the present number ofthe Lord's people were rendered prophets, or ministers, by theSpirit 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 themflesh. How much more diligent men are in collecting the meatthat perishes, than in labouring for meat which endures toeverlasting life! We are quick-sighted in the affairs of time;but stupidity blinds us as to the concerns of eternity. Topursue worldly advantages, we need no arguments; but when we areto secure the true riches, then we are all forgetfulness. Thosewho are under the power of a carnal mind, will have their lustsfulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of theirprecious souls. They paid dearly for their feasts. God oftengrants the desires of sinners in wrath, while he denies thedesires of his own people in love. What we unduly desire, if weobtain it, we have reason to fear, will be some way or other agrief and cross to us. And what multitudes there are in allplaces, who shorten their lives by excess of one kind or other!Let us seek for those pleasures which satisfy, but neversurfeit; and which will endure for evermore.
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