1. A DANGEROUS SITUATION
a. What action of the Israelites demonstrated that they were unprepared for God to use them as light bearers? Exodus 16:2, 3.
“It was necessary for [the children of Israel] to encounter difficulties and to endure privations. God was bringing them from a state of degradation and fitting them to occupy an honorable place among the nations and to receive important and sacred trusts. Had they possessed faith in Him, in view of all that He had wrought for them, they would cheerfully have borne inconvenience, privation, and even real suffering; but they were unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness the continual evidences of His power.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 292, 293.
b. In answer to the murmurings of the multitude, what instruction did the Lord give to them, through Moses, in order to reeducate their perverted appetite? Exodus 16:4, 12–15, 31, 35.
2. THE PLAN OF GOD
a. To be the light of the world, what do we need to keep in mind at all times? 1 Corinthians 10:31. What was the original diet of Adam and Eve in Eden? Genesis 1:29.
“Again and again I have been shown that God is bringing His people back to His original design, that is, not to subsist on the flesh of dead animals. He would have us teach people a better way. . . . If meat is discarded, if the taste is not educated in that direction, if a liking for fruits and grains is encouraged, it will soon be as God in the beginning designed it should be. No meat will be used by His people.”—Child Guidance, p. 383.
b. What should Israel have always remembered as the nation chosen by God to bear light to the world? Deuteronomy 6:24; 7:6.
“God brought the Israelites from Egypt, that He might establish them in the land of Canaan, a pure, holy, and happy people. In the accomplishment of this object He subjected them to a course of discipline, both for their own good and for the good of their posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite, in obedience to His wise restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been unknown among them. . . . But their unwillingness to submit to the restrictions and the requirements of God, prevented them, to a great extent, from reaching the high standard which He desired them to attain, and from receiving the blessings which He was ready to bestow upon them.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 378.
c. Why did Satan harden the hearts of the Israelites and cause them “to lust after forbidden things”? Psalm 78:18.
“Satan tempted them to regard this restriction as unjust and cruel. He caused them to lust after forbidden things, because he saw that the unrestrained indulgence of appetite would tend to produce sensuality, and by this means the people could be more easily brought under his control. The author of disease and misery will assail men where he can have the greatest success. Through temptations addressed to the appetite he has, to a large extent, led men into sin from the time when he induced Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.”—Ibid.
3. OPEN REBELLION
a. Soon after their departure from Mount Sinai, what did the children of Israel do, and how did God respond? Numbers 11:1.
b. Why did God, this time, regard their murmurings as a sin of rebellion? Psalm 78:17, 18; Hebrews 10:26.
“Murmuring and tumults had been frequent during the journey from the Red Sea to Sinai, but in pity for their ignorance and blindness God had not then visited the sin with judgments. But since that time He had revealed Himself to them at Horeb. They had received great light, as they had been witnesses to the majesty, the power, and the mercy of God; and their unbelief and discontent incurred the greater guilt. Furthermore, they had covenanted to accept Jehovah as their king and to obey His authority. Their murmuring was now rebellion, and as such it must receive prompt and signal punishment, if Israel was to be preserved from anarchy and ruin. ‘The fire of Jehovah burned among them and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.’ The most guilty of the complainers were slain by lightning from the cloud.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 379.
c. How did the survivors continue in their rebellion? Numbers 11:4–6.
“But the evil was soon worse than before. Instead of leading the survivors to humiliation and repentance, this fearful judgment seemed only to increase their murmurings. In all directions the people were gathered at the door of their tents, weeping and lamenting. . . . Thus they manifested their discontent with the food provided for them by their Creator. Yet they had constant evidence that it was adapted to their wants; for notwithstanding the hardships they endured, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes.”—Ibid.
“Every soul will be tried and tested. Let all be careful how they treat the warnings, reproofs, and entreaties of the Spirit of God. Those who reject light because it does not harmonize with their inclinations, will be left in darkness, to choose the things they love—the things that separate them from the favor of God.”—The Review and Herald, October 16, 1883.
4. MOSES PLEADS FOR HELP
a. In his distress over this dangerous situation, what appeal did Moses make to the Lord? Numbers 11:11–15. What provision for Moses did God now make? Numbers 11:16.
“The Lord permitted Moses to choose for himself the most faithful and efficient men to share the responsibility with him. Their influence would assist in holding in check the violence of the people, and quelling insurrection; yet serious evils would eventually result from their promotion. They would never have been chosen had Moses manifested faith corresponding to the evidences he had witnessed of God’s power and goodness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 380.
b. What was Moses instructed to say to the people in answer to their complaints? Numbers 11:18–20.
c. How did the Lord rebuke the lack of faith and the discontentment of Moses? Numbers 11:21–23.
d. Though God now provided flesh food for the people in their lust, how were they punished for their rebellion? Numbers 11:31–33; Psalm 106:13–15.
“God gave the people that which was not for their highest good, because they persisted in desiring it; they would not be satisfied with those things that would prove a benefit to them. Their rebellious desires were gratified, but they were left to suffer the result. They feasted without restraint, and their excesses were speedily punished. ‘The Lord smote the people with a very great plague’ (Numbers 11:33). Large numbers were cut down by burning fevers, while the most guilty among them were smitten as soon as they tasted the food for which they had lusted.”—Ibid., p.382.
5. CHOOSING BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS
a. How does God treat those who have never seen the light, never known His will, or never understood His plan? Acts 17:30.
“‘If light comes, and that light is set aside or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes, there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject.’”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 116.
b. However, those who refuse to obey God after His will has been revealed to them, how will they be treated? Luke 12:47, 48; James 4:17; 1 Samuel 15:23.
“While [many] refuse to believe and obey some requirement of the Lord, they persevere in offering up to God their formal services of religion. There is no response of the Spirit of God to such service. No matter how zealous men may be in their observance of religious ceremonies, the Lord cannot accept them if they persist in willful violation of one of His commands.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 634.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What was the response of Israel to God’s health reeducation plan?
2. Why did God regard this murmuring as rebellion?
3. How did God give them the food they desired?
4. How does God treat those who honestly ignore the truth?
5. How does God treat those who intentionally disobey His revealed will?