1. LUSTING AFTER EVIL THINGS
a. After what evil things (1 Corinthians 10:6) did the Israelites lust?
“When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it was His purpose to establish them in the land of Canaan a pure, happy, healthy people. . . . He removed flesh food from them in a great measure. He had granted them flesh in answer to their clamors, just before reaching Sinai, but it was furnished for only one day. God might have provided flesh as easily as manna, but a restriction was placed upon the people for their good. It was His purpose to supply them with food better suited to their wants than the feverish diet to which many of them had been 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.”—Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 377, 378.
b. What was the quick result of intemperance? Numbers 11:4, 20, 31–34.
“Their rebellious desires were gratified, but they were left to suffer the result. They feasted without restraint, and their excesses were speedily punished. . . . 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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 382.
a. In what degrading apostasy did Israel take part at Sinai? Exodus 32:1–6.
“Under the pretense of holding ‘a feast to the Lord,’ they gave themselves up to gluttony and licentious reveling. . . .
“Only a few days had passed since the Hebrews had made a solemn covenant with God to obey His voice. They had stood trembling with terror before the mount, listening to the words of the Lord, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ The glory of God still hovered above Sinai in the sight of the congregation; but they turned away, and asked for other gods. ‘They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox.’ Psalm 106:19, 20. How could greater ingratitude have been shown, or more daring insult offered, to Him who had revealed Himself to them as a tender father and an all-powerful king!”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 317.
b. How might we today be in danger of being involved in idolatry, even without graven images? Exodus 20:3–6; 1 John 5:21.
“Jehovah, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all, is alone entitled to supreme reverence and worship. Man is forbidden to give to any other object the first place in his affections or his service. Whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that do we make a god.”—Ibid., p. 305.
“So long have men worshiped human opinions and human institutions that almost the whole world is following after idols.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 186.
“Every time you refuse to listen to the message of mercy, you strengthen yourself in unbelief. Every time you fail to open the door of your heart to Christ, you become more and more unwilling to listen to the voice of Him that speaketh. You diminish your chance of responding to the last appeal of mercy. Let it not be written of you, as of ancient Israel, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.’ Hosea 4:17. Let not Christ weep over you as He wept over Jerusalem, saying, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.’ Luke 13:34, 35.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 237.
a. What moral disaster entrapped Israel at Baal-Peor? Numbers 25:1–9.
“At Balaam’s suggestion, a grand festival in honor of [Midianites] gods was appointed by the king of Moab, and it was secretly arranged that Balaam should induce the Israelites to attend. He was regarded by them as a prophet of God, and hence had little difficulty in accomplishing his purpose. Great numbers of the people joined him in witnessing the festivities. They ventured upon the forbidden ground, and were entangled in the snare of Satan. Beguiled with music and dancing, and allured by the beauty of heathen vestals, they cast off their fealty to Jehovah. As they united in mirth and feasting, indulgence in wine beclouded their senses and broke down the barriers of self-control. Passion had full sway; and having defiled their consciences by lewdness, they were persuaded to bow down to idols. They offered sacrifice upon heathen altars and participated in the most degrading rites.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 454.
b. As we approach heavenly Canaan, how is Satan working in similar ways to destroy God’s people? 1 Corinthians 10:11–13.
“Satan well knows the material with which he has to deal in the human heart. He knows—for he has studied with fiendish intensity for thousands of years—the points most easily assailed in every character; and through successive generations he has wrought to overthrow the strongest men, princes in Israel, by the same temptations that were so successful at Baalpeor. All along through the ages there are strewn wrecks of character that have been stranded upon the rocks of sensual indulgence. As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul. It is not the ignorant and uncultured merely that need to be guarded; he will prepare his temptations for those in the highest positions, in the most holy office; if he can lead them to pollute their souls, he can through them destroy many. And he employs the same agents now as he employed three thousand years ago. By worldly friendships, by the charms of beauty, by pleasure seeking, mirth, feasting, or the wine cup, he tempts to the violation of the seventh commandment.”—Ibid., pp. 457, 458.
4. A BAD HABIT
a. What sin was frequent in Israel’s journey, and how was it punished? 1 Corinthians 10:10; Exodus 16:8; Numbers 14:27, 36; 11:1.
“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 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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 379.
b. Why were most of the Israelites who left Egypt not able to enter the promised land—and why are God’s people today journeying for such a long time in this wicked world? Hebrews 3:16–19; 4:1, 2.
“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.”—Evangelism, p. 696.
c. What is the root of murmuring, and how can we overcome it? Romans 11:20.
“Like incense the fragrance of the gospel was to be diffused throughout the world. To those who should accept Christ, the message would be a savor of life unto life; but to those who should persist in unbelief, a savor of death unto death.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 326.
5. A VICTORIOUS PEOPLE
a. Describe the key to victory despite the challenges we face. Revelation 12:17; 1 Corinthians 15:57.
“The gospel that is to be preached to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples presents the truth in clear lines, showing that obedience is the condition of gaining eternal life. Christ imparts His righteousness to those who consent to let Him take away their sins. We are indebted to Christ for the grace which makes us complete in Him.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 972.
“Notwithstanding the defects of the people of God, Christ does not turn away from the objects of His care. He has the power to change their raiment. He removes the filthy garments, He places upon the repenting, believing ones His own robe of righteousness, and writes pardon against their names on the records of heaven. He confesses them as His before the heavenly universe. Satan their adversary is shown to be an accuser and deceiver. God will do justice for His own elect.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 169, 170.
b. What main qualities identify God’s people? Revelation 14:12; 15:2.
“In the issue of the conflict all Christendom will be divided into two great classes, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark. Although church and state will unite their power to compel all, ‘both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,’ to receive the mark of the beast, yet the people of God will not receive it. Revelation 13:16.”—Counsels for the Church, pp. 39, 40.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain one big problem the Israelites had in the wilderness.
2. Name some ways by which idolatry is practiced today.
3. How might Satan be trying to ensnare us like at Baal-Peor?
4. What should I do to overcome the tendency to murmur?
5. How can I be victorious in the final struggle?