As a nation we have complained, taken credit for His blessings, and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder it has finally produced “fire in the camp”?
Numbers 11 & 12
Numbers 11 & 12:
Fire in the camp
Chapter 11.1, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”
God had been merciful to the Israelites. He had delivered them from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. He not only brought them out of Egypt without a fight, but had caused the Egyptians to give them a great deal of wealth as they left (Ps. 105.37). He led them and protected them from the pursuing Egyptian army and parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land. He comforted them and warned away their enemies with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
As they traveled their feet didn’t swell and their clothes didn’t wear out (Neh. 9.21). He fed them with food from heaven (manna), gave them water in the wilderness and demonstrated His power and presence over and over.
Yet … what did they do? They complained!
And what about us as Americans? We live in perhaps the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. Our poor are better off than the majority in many nations. God has blessed us with an abundance of natural resources, a beautiful land, creativity and ingenuity beyond measure. We have freedoms almost unheard of in the world: freedom to worship, freedom to vote, freedom to pursue an education, freedom to live where we want, even freedom to protest. Instead of being thankful we frequently complain.
Not only have we complained, but we have taken credit for the things with which He has blessed us and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder our complaining, unthankfulness, and rejection of God as a nation has finally produced “fire in the camp”?
The answer is not more government. When we get into the book of 1 Samuel, we’ll see what happens when people demand to have their government be more like that of the nations around them. The answer is repentance, prayer and turning to God.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD …” (Ps. 33.12).
“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14.34).
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7.14).
May the Lord help us to be grateful for our blessings, to use our freedoms as an opportunity to stand up for God and what matters to Him, to endure hardship with an eternal perspective, and to be willing to wait on God and His answers instead of demanding that those around us fix everything and give us everything we think we need and want.
Praying for God’s blessings
Verse 16, “Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies’ sake.” It’s OK to pray for God’s blessings, but let’s not get ahead of Him and become like the Israelites and demand that He give us what we want now.
Warning against gossip
Verse 13, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” This does not mean that we never speak the truth in love. Some things should not be covered or concealed. It means that we should never gossip or repeat things that we don’t need to say. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4.8).
One thing you lack
Chapter 10 contains the story of Jesus’ meeting with the rich young ruler. Verse 21 says, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack. Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'”
Jesus loved him enough not to let him delude himself into thinking he was “ok.” In reality, this young man’s self-righteousness (“all these things I have kept from my youth” v. 20) and self-sufficiency (“he had great possessions” v. 21) kept him from seeing his real need.
We, too, must love others enough to risk rejection or being misunderstood because we see that some sinful habit or pattern is keeping them from God’s blessings. We should do so, not out of selfishness or a critical spirit, but because of our love for them.
May God help us to love others enough to encourage those who need encouragement, love those who need love, comfort the hurting and warn or admonish those who may be in spiritual danger.