#6 (The “Forgetting” Series)
“FORGET THE OLD WAYS!”
TEXT: Numbers 11:1-35
INTRO: We are stubborn creatures; change does not come easily for us human beings. When we are pressed or threatened we tend to return to old ways out of a need for security. This can be a dangerous practice however in the spiritual realm! As Christians we need to be careful we are not lulled back to our old ways before Christ, instead we must learn to live like lobsters!
ILLUS: FROM TIME TO TIME LOBSTERS HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR OLD SHELLS; IT IS A NECESSARY PART OF GROWING FOR THEM. THEIR SHELLS ARE MADE ONE SIZE AT A TIME, AND AS THEY GROW THEY MUST CAST THEIR OLD SHELL ASIDE AND MAKE A NEW LARGER SHELL. IF THEY FAIL TO DO THIS, THEY WOULD SOON BECOME IMPRISONED IN THEIR OLD SHELL AND NOT BE ABLE TO ESCAPE IT, THUS THEY WOULD DIE BY BEING CRUSHED TO DEATH OR SUFFOCATE. THE TRICKY PART FOR THE LOBSTER IS THE TIME BETWEEN SHELLS -- THEY ARE VERY VULNERABLE DURING THIS TIME, WHEN THEY ARE BARE AND UNPROTECTED THE OLD SHELL MUST SEEM PRETTY ATTRACTIVE; THEY AT LEAST FELT SAFE IN IT, YET THERE IS NO FUTURE IN THAT OLD SHELL, THEY MUST ENDURE THE VULNERABLE STAGE WHILE A NEW SHELL DEVELOPS THAT CAN HANDLE THEIR NEW LARGER LIFE ... THERE CAN BE NO GOING BACK TO THE OLD WAYS IF THEY WANT A FUTURE! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
When we are feeling vulnerable, when
pressure is building up, there is always the temptation to return to old ways --
yet, to return to old ways would keep us from experiencing God’s new ways! It is better to FORGET THE
This was a struggle for
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to forget the old ways of our life before Christ, to adopt the new life we have in Christ and keep moving forward! We can only do this by the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives!
I. OBSTINATE WILL! 11:1-15
A. Hardship’s Seduction! 11:1-9
1. How like us
a. The wilderness was not a theme park!
b. Life is not always a bowl of cherries!
2. It is somewhat ironic however that these freed slaves who had just left Egypt loaded down with gold and goodies should so quickly have turned to complaining!
a. Remember that they had plundered
b. They had a better quality of life
in the dessert than they did in
c. God’s reaction was quick and yet graceful!
3. Fire breaks out on the outskirts of camp; had God really wanted to fry them all He would have had it break out in the center of camp!
a. These were not revival fires, they were judgment fires!
b. Surrounded by judgment fires they cried out to Moses for help, the prayer of Moses stilled the fires, God responds to prayer!
c. The place was named “TABERAH” which means “burning” in Hebrew.
4. The message God sends is simple -- undeserved complaining brings judgment from the hand of God ... there are many Christians and churches that have yet to understand this principle!!
a. No one today wants to preach about judgment; it is considered an old fashioned concept.
b. It is still part of God’s response to sin when unconfessed.
5. Just when you think the lesson is over some “RABBLE-ROUSERS” get them all worked up!
a. The Hebrew word translated here “rabble” means most likely “outsiders” or “non-Jews.” There were many Egyptians that left
b. The craving for other food started with this “rabble!”
c. These were members of the congregation that weren’t interested in “Bread from Heaven!”
d. Here is where many a denomination and church have started to slide ... when members of congregations aren’t as interested in the “Bread of Life” and are more interested in programs, buildings, etc.
6. These “rabble
rousers” weren’t interested in God’s blessings, they just wanted
their former cushy life back ... they wanted to go back to their
a. These were cold hearted people, selfish; they cared nothing about God or God’s people.
b. They only wanted blessings for themselves, and if they couldn’t have them they would stir up a complaining spirit among God’s people and make every one else miserable. They would rather have others miserable if they couldn’t have their own way!
ILLUS: LIKE THE TWO SHOPKEEPERS WHO WERE BITTER ENEMIES. THEIR STORES WERE RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM ONE ANOTHER, AND THEY TRACKED EACH OTHER’S BUSINESS EVERYDAY! AS A CUSTOMER WALKED INTO ONE STORE, THE OWNER WOULD GLARE OUT THE FRONT DOOR AT HIS RIVAL AND BREAK OUT IN A BIG SMILE! ONE NIGHT AN ANGEL APPEARED TO ONE OF THE SHOPOWNERS IN A DREAM AND SAID, “I WILL GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU ASK, BUT WHATEVER YOU RECEIVE YOUR COMPETITOR WILL RECEIVE TWICE AS MUCH! IF YOU CHOOSE TO BE WEALTHY, HE WILL BE TWICE AS WEALTHY. DO YOU WISH TO LIVE LONG AND HEALTHY? HE WILL LIVE LONGER AND HAVE BETTER HEALTH. WHAT IS YOUR WISH?” THE MAN FROWNED, THOUGHT FOR A MOMENT, AND THEN SAID, “HERE IS MY REQUEST, STRIKE ME BLIND IN ONE EYE!” RATHER THAN CHOOSE BLESSINGS FOR HIMSELF AND HIS ENEMY HE CHOSE TO SUFFER SO THAT HIS COMPETITOR WOULD SUFFER MORE! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
7. The Israelites started wailing again, how soon they forgot the previous warnings of judgment!
a. They complained and their memories changed their previous reality!
b. Notice what they said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt AT NO COST ... also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.”
c. ARE THEY KIDDING? ... AT NO COST!? They had been slaves remember!!!
d. The costs had been very heavy; all the male babies had been ordered killed by Pharaoh at one point, they had to make bricks without straw, they had few food rations, they were beaten, raped, used, sick, etc.!
8. It is amazing how a complaining spirit changed their memory of past reality ... how good they perceived things in the past and how poor they felt God was treating them in the present
a. A bitter spirit alters reality in the minds of those who embrace bitterness!
b. They begin to sulk and complain; they have no appetite and gripe that all they get is “manna” (bread from heaven delivered by God faithfully each day except the Sabbath -- God made home deliveries!)
9. Thank God we are not like them ... RIGHT? (Sure! Right!)
B. Heavy Spirit! 11:10-15
1. Moses can’t help but hear the people, they each sit in the entrance of their tent to wail!
a. This indicated a planned protest ... this is how they took votes and decided group decisions, by each representative standing at the entrance of their tent so group decisions could be counted!
b. I wonder who helped organize this public protest? The RABBLE no doubt!
c. There are always those who will take charge of grumbling.
2. Moses like any leader who had put his life on the line reacts very normally to the constant spats of whining ... he is sick of these people and God’s call on His life!
a. He begins to gripe himself, complaining is a very infectious disease of the human heart!!!
b. Even Moses joins in the complaining, he begins to ask God what he has done to deserve this wonderful assignment and these people; was it Moses’ idea to bring them into the world?
3. Moses’ complaint gets him off the track of truth too, he asks God “Where can I get meat for all these people? I cannot carry all these people by myself.”
a. God never asked Moses to secure meat for them, God already provided their daily bread ... nor did God ever ask Moses to carry them; only lead them!
b. A heavy spirit distorts even the godliest of souls!
c. Moses was thinking from his own
abilities and strength, and yes, if he tried to lead
ILLUS: DR. PAUL
BRAND WAS SPEAKING TO A
4. Moses had forgotten the oil!!
a. His request sounds silly to us, “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now!” But I wonder how many of us have said something similar when we have been mad at God?
b. He sounded an awful lot like the people he was leading!
5. God had a solution for Moses and for Israel, a wonderful solution that is still available today! GOD’S SPIRIT!
II. ONLY WAY! 11:16-30, 35
A. Holy Spirit! 11:16-17, 24-30, 35
1. God instructs Moses to carefully select 70 leaders from among the 12 tribes of Israel, to these men God will put the same Holy Spirit that was on Moses on them!
a. God recognized Moses’ need for Spirit filled leaders.
b. It wouldn’t matter how Moses qualified them, God’s only way for their leadership included being full of the Spirit of God!
2. They are brought together and told to stand around the TENT, God’s house in the midst of camp!
a. A “mighty wind” came and the Spirit of God descended on them -- the Old Testament Pentecost!
b. They “began to prophesy” -- this word in Hebrew means to speak ecstatically, much like tongues ... it was not necessarily Hebrew they spoke! This was clearly the evidence of being filled by the Spirit in the Old Testament, much the same way tongues is the evidence in the New Testament Pentecost.
c. There were 2 other guys in camp that also got filled! I guess they were just too close to the others not to get hit!!
d. The indication here is that these 70 (72!) only prophesied on this occasion, unlike today -- Pentecost can be an ongoing experience!
3. Moses when asked to stop these 2 extra guys from being too Pentecostal simply states a New Testament hope and promise ... “I wish that all the lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them all!”
a. Hey, we’re in that day when this can and should be true!
b. These Spirit filled leaders now spread out in the camp, the ONLY WAY to deal with grumbling and complaining was a BAPTISM OF GOD’S SPIRIT!
c. This oil of God’s Spirit would keep the leaders and Moses from BURNING OUT.
B. Human Spirit 11:18-23
1. While Moses and these 72 men were filled with the Spirit, other preparations were continuing to satisfy the human spirit, the meat issue!
a. Moses was still struggling before this outpouring of the Spirit trying to understand how he was suppose to meet the needs of these people who were craving meat!
b. They craved something for their bodies while Moses craved something for his soul!
2. Moses gets what he was searching for -- Spirit filled leaders; and the people were about to get what they were searching for -- physical meat to the point that they would become sick!
a. What a contrast in desires!
b. What a contrast in fulfillment, they both got what they wanted; Moses found strength and help with Spirit filled leaders and the people found disgust and sickness in having their physical needs met above their spiritual needs!
III. OLD WAY -34
A. Human Solutions -32
1. It is no accident that these two stories are placed together, they were meant to show a contrast between the WIND OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CAMP ON THE 72 MEN AND THE WIND OF THE FLESH (MEAT) OUTSIDE THE CAMP (the Quail)!
a. The word “WIND” here is the same word for “SPIRIT,” it is “Ruach.”
b. The 72 received the Spirit; the masses received the wind of flesh!
c. The Spirit fell inside camp ... the wind of flesh fell outside camp!
2. It is amazing how committed to a fleshly solution the people were ... “they went out ALL THAT DAY AND NIGHT AND ALL THE NEXT DAY!” ()
a. If they had only been half as committed to getting the wind of God’s Spirit!
b. They didn’t have time to wait on God’s Spirit but they found time to stay up for 36 or more hours and satisfy their natural cravings for flesh!
3. They would not be satisfied with meager amounts of flesh either, they wanted it all! The least amount gathered was “10 homers” 11:32b (about 500 gallons or about 60 bushels!)
a. This flesh was then spread all around the camp; boy is there a spiritual point about to be made here!
b. As soon as all this human solution stuff invades camp the people forget God and seek to satisfy their cravings for the good stuff of this world, and guess what happens? They get sick to their stomachs!
c. In fact, many perish, many were later buried!
4. This of course provided another occasion to moan and wail though it was of their own making!
a. The sickness struck as soon as the meat was “between their teeth and before it could be consumed.” 11:33a
b. God had given them “bread from heaven” which would keep them strong but they had chosen an old way, a human solution to a spiritual problem, and this flesh made them sick!
c. There is no substitute that can satisfy the soul except the true “BREAD FROM HEAVEN” JESUS CHRIST!
d. Any other substitute will make our souls sick!
5. Israel forgot that they were first spiritual beings and not just physical ones, this mistake cost them a great deal! It will cost us also if we forget this.
PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES SEVERAL YEARS BACK WHEN
6. It is so tempting to think that we can do God’s work by ingenious concepts or programs but the bottom line is that we can’t do any of God’s work unless we are equipped with God’s Spirit!
7. All the liturgy, rituals, doctrine, hymns, offerings, etc. can’t replace the need of the spirit, to have God’s Spirit filling us for His service!
8. They returned to OLD WAYS and discovered an OLD TRUTH, the way of the world “leads to death ... but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
B. Horrible Satisfaction! 11:33-34
1. God had sent them an earlier warning when the fire had burned just outside the edge of camp but this time it states that the “Lord’s anger burned against the people” 11:33
2. God satisfied their demand for meat, for abundant flesh, and the results were horrible!
a. It is far more frightening to think of the prayers God might answer than the ones He might not answer some times!
b. They got exactly what they asked for ... in great abundance, and it ruined them!
c. Man’s solutions to man’s problems usually end up being stupid.
ILLUS: LIKE A RECENT REPORT IN NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE ... IT REPORTED A STORY ON HOW THE POLICE WERE ABLE TO PREVENT AND STOP A MAN FROM COMMITTING SUICIDE, THEY SHOT HIM, AND IN THE PROCESS KILLED HIM!!!! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. This is just like the world, solve a problem by creating a new one! (Sounds a lot like some of our government programs!)
4. The place was named, “Kibroth Hattaavah” ... translated this means: “GRAVES OF CRAVINGS!”
a. The cravings of the Spirit cannot be filled by the things of this world!
b. The attempts that people make to satisfy their soul’s hunger only leads them to become sick spiritually as they seek to fill that need by the stuff of this world!
c. What we need today is a fresh wind of the Spirit, not a wind of the flesh! We need a fresh baptism of the Spirit!!
CONCLUSION: While on the way to the