1. TRAVELING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS
a. Why did Moses invite Hobab to accompany the people of Israel? Did he accept the invitation? Numbers 10:29–31; Judges 1:16; 4:11.
“Of this tribe [the Kenites] was the brother-in-law of Moses, Hobab, who had accompanied the Israelites in their travels through the wilderness, and by his knowledge of the country had rendered them valuable assistance.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 628.
b. What prayers did Moses offer when the cloud lifted and the ark set forward and when it rested again? Numbers 10:35, 36.
“God Himself directed the Israelites in all their travels. The place of their encampment was indicated by the descent of the pillar of cloud; and so long as they were to remain in camp, the cloud rested over the tabernacle. When they were to continue their journey it was lifted high above the sacred tent. A solemn invocation marked both the halt and the departure.”—Ibid., p.376.
2. COMPLAINING AGAIN
a. Through what sort of land did the people of Israel travel after they left Sinai? Why? Deuteronomy 8:15, 16; Jeremiah 2:6.
“As they advanced, the way became more difficult. Their route lay through stony ravine and barren waste. All around them was the great wilderness—‘a land of deserts and of pits,’ ‘a land of drought, and of the shadow of death,’ ‘a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt.’ Jeremiah 2:6. The rocky gorges, far and near, were thronged with men, women, and children, with beasts and wagons, and long lines of flocks and herds. Their progress was necessarily slow and toilsome; and the multitudes, after their long encampment, were not prepared to endure the perils and discomforts of the way.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 377.
b. When the people began complaining about the discomforts along the way, what happened? Numbers 11:1–3.
“After three days’ journey open complaints were heard. These originated with the mixed multitude, many of whom were not fully united with Israel, and were continually watching for some cause of censure. The complainers were not pleased with the direction of the march, and they were continually finding fault with the way in which Moses was leading them, though they well knew that he, as well as they, was following the guiding cloud. Dissatisfaction is contagious, and it soon spread in the encampment.”—Ibid., p.377.
“They [the people of Israel] 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 burnt 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.”—Ibid., p.379.
3. LUSTING FOR FLESH
a. What did the Israelites complain about next, and with whom did the murmuring begin? Numbers 11:4–6; Psalm 78:18–20.
“The Israelites, during their bondage in Egypt, had been compelled to subsist on the plainest and simplest food; but the keen appetite induced by privation and hard labor had made it palatable. Many of the Egyptians, however, who were now among them, had been accustomed to a luxurious diet; and these were the first to complain. At the giving of the manna, just before Israel reached Sinai, the Lord had granted them flesh in answer to their clamors; but it was furnished them for only one day.
“God might as easily have provided them with flesh as with manna, but a restriction was placed upon them for their good. It was His purpose to supply them with food better suited to their wants than the feverish diet to which many had become accustomed in Egypt. The perverted appetite was to be brought into a more healthy state, that they might enjoy the food originally provided for man—the fruits of the earth, which God gave to Adam and Eve in Eden. It was for this reason that the Israelites had been deprived, in a great measure, of animal food.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 377, 378.
“The state of the mind has largely to do with the health of the body, and especially with the health of the digestive organs. As a general thing, the Lord did not provide His people with flesh meat in the desert, because He knew that the use of this diet would create disease and insubordination. In order to modify the disposition, and bring the higher powers of the mind into active exercise, He removed from them the flesh of dead animals. He gave them angels’ food, manna from heaven.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, pp. 1112, 1113.
b. How was their demand for flesh food granted, and what were the results? Numbers 11:31–34; Psalm 78:26–32.
“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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 382.
4. A LESSON FOR US
a. As the Israelites were already used to plain, simple food, what prior warning did they ignore? Exodus 23:2 (first part). When tempted to murmur and complain about God’s ways, what should we do? Psalm 107:21, 22; Philippians 4:6, 7.
b. What other lesson should we learn from the rebellious behavior of Israel in the wilderness? 1 Corinthians 10:5, 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. Their descendants would have possessed both physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But their unwillingness to submit to the restrictions and 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. What do we need to do first to ensure that we do not lust after evil things? Romans 13:14.
“We must fight against the sins that war against the soul. You cannot in your own strength do this work, but come to Jesus in faith. He will help you and strengthen you to put away evil tendencies, and will array you in the true beauty of His character. We are exhorted to put on the Lord Jesus. Simple faith and obedience go hand in hand. Your faith without obedience to God’s holy law is of no value, but obedience to God and faith in the Great Sacrifice offered— that His blood was shed for you, and you will accept the righteousness of Christ—will make you an overcomer. Put your trust in Jesus Christ, and He will bring you off more than conqueror.”—The Youth’s Instructor, August 18, 1886.
5. THE POISON OF ENVY
a. What happened at Hazeroth, which revealed the characters of Aaron and Miriam in contrast to that of Moses? Numbers 12:1–9.
“God had chosen Moses, and had put His Spirit upon him; and Miriam and Aaron, by their murmurings, were guilty of disloyalty, not only to their appointed leader, but to God Himself. The seditious whisperers were summoned to the tabernacle, and brought face to face with Moses. . . . Their claim to the prophetic gift was not denied; God might have spoken to them in visions and dreams. But to Moses, whom the Lord Himself declared ‘faithful in all Mine house,’ a nearer communion had been granted. With him God spake mouth to mouth.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 384, 385.
b. How did the Lord show His displeasure, and how was Miriam’s punishment mitigated when Moses pleaded for her? Numbers 12:10–16.
“Envy is one of the most satanic traits that can exist in the human heart, and it is one of the most baleful in its effects. Says the wise man, ‘Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?’ Proverbs 27:4. . . .
“It should not be regarded as a light thing to speak evil of others or to make ourselves judges of their motives or actions. . . .
“We are to honor those whom God has honored. The judgment visited upon Miriam should be a rebuke to all who yield to jealousy, and murmur against those upon whom God lays the burden of His work.”—Ibid., pp.385, 386.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did God lead His people in their travels? How does He lead us today?
2. Why was it so sinful for the Israelites to complain about how Moses was leading them?
3. Why does God want us to follow a simple, vegetarian diet today?
4. What blessings come from self-denial in appetite?
5. How are we sometimes envious in a similar way to Miriam?