Grumbling, Part 2
Such Always Blame Leadership
Sin of Grumbling Introduction
Spiritual Leadership – Bad Congregation
Seldom does one hear that there is such a thing as spiritual leadership but a sinful congregations.
One reason is there are far more grumblers and faultfinders than godly leadership. There are whole “ministries” devoted to enflaming by inviting “discernment” grumblers against true godliness through Jesus.
True, most situations are the blind complaining about the blind. That is, blind leadership with blind congregations complaining about how leadership is blind.
Fact is the grumblers did not go away when they died in the desert under Moses’ leadership. They reinvented themselves as “discernment groupies.” The best thing to do is get very close to Jesus, let Him plow up unbroken ground, obey more by the Holy Spirit, and you will be on their watch list.
Don’t be paralyzed spiritually by the grumblers’ fear-mongering and spiritual whisperings that deceive and defile. Every once-in-awhile it is the congregation that is at fault. Be careful not to fall for the “discernment” trap and become ashamed of the Truth.
This is why God left one huge lesson about the first congregation. The 1st Church of Moses Desert Church to be exact.
Whatever the case on that situation keep in mind that as the cross nails you down and the suffering becomes long and hard not to sin by grumbling.
Rather humble yourself and God will give you the grace and joy in due time – if you are obedient.
Deny your sin that wants to grumble, ignore, and refute the grumblers and do as Peter instructed.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)
Death by crucifixion is a slow dragging on process. A person dies by inches. Slowly, painfully, and embarrassingly.
When one is suffering, time appears to move much slower. If sitting in the dentist chair having a tooth drilled upon seems to take forever, how much more when we are being crucified with Christ on many levels by the will of God.
This is why it is vital to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances.
Those who fail to obey this glorious command by having faith to see beyond their sufferings begin to grumble and run the very real danger in God of being disqualified from entering His rest.
GRUMBLING, PART 2
1 Corinthians 10:9-11 – We should not test the Lord as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. Now, these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us in whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
We will continue talking about grumbling, but we are going to look at an aspect that is going to be a little bit hard to believe. This will be one of those sermons where you may say, “Well, okay, maybe, and maybe not.” Let’s talk about how we got in this sinful mess. It all has to do with food.
Genesis 3:6 – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye…
So, sin entered the world by way of eating and what we like and what we can see.
Again, verse 6 says that it was good food. It wasn’t a Snickers bar. It wasn’t something that didn’t have vitamins in it. Why do you think there is so much talk about food and what is proper to eat? Women especially are always counting calories. I’m not even going to get into all that.
Genesis 3:6 – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
We will see in this sermon how the Israelites grumbled over food and how it was the main source of their trouble. It is the basis of our grumbling, whether we believe it or not.
Let’s see that this is serious business. It caused the fall, and we can lose our birthright in Jesus Christ over a simple thing like food. One of the functions of the church is to ensure that nobody is willing to sell Jesus Christ for what tastes good and for what is pleasing to them. Yet, what is the church known for today but eating, drinking, and having a good time?
Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
We are going to look at how bitter roots get started. We are going to look at the troubles that started with the Israelites as God delivered them out of Egypt. Verse 16 tells us this:
Hebrews 12:16 – See that no one is sexually immoral…
Everybody would agree with that. As a church, we are to make sure that nobody is sexually immoral. The church should be watching and examining to make sure no sin is taking place.
Hebrews 12:16 – See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.
Esau sold his inheritance all over one meal. How many churches there are today selling their birthright over what they want to eat, because they want to feed their flesh.
Hebrews 12:17 – Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
He went in and pleaded to be forgiven. He asked for the inheritance back. He wept and pleaded, but nothing could be changed because he had committed a sin. There was set before him his inheritance or eating a meal for the day, and he chose the meal for the day. In the same way, Jesus Christ leads us into certain hardships, and we have to deny ourselves in some ways. We have to live a life of trusting him to meet our needs. Are you going to trust God, or do you just want what you want? It comes down to some of the most basic things in our lives, to what we want to eat, what looks good, or what pleases our flesh. A lot of people don’t even know they are selling their birthright or giving up their relationship with Jesus Christ. We look for all these grand sins, but again, we lost our position with God over fruit on a tree. This contest really does come down to the cross of Jesus Christ in our life controlling what we want to eat, where we want to go, and what we want to do. I remember someone just a couple of weeks ago asked me, “How can I keep from being tossed back and forth by this sin?” I told him what the answer was and I brought it down to this most basic thing in his life. He twisted in the chair and said, “No, that can’t be it.” We want to think that we have this grand sin or this grand problem to wrestle with, not an issue of the belly or how we want to please our flesh. Philippians 3:18 gives us the contest of the cross.
Philippians 3:18 – For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears…
Let us have tears not because we are trying to get a hold of our birthright again, but because we see that men are rejecting the cross of Christ that could deliver them from sin and crucify their flesh.
Philippians 3:18 – …many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
They may give acknowledgement to the cross. They may preach and sing about the cross. But their lives declare that they are enemies of the cross of Christ that could deal with their flesh and crucify the sin in their lives. Verse 19 brings us back to the root cause of why we find ourselves grumbling, quarreling, and complaining.
Philippians 3:19 – Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
It comes down to our bellies, what we want to eat, our comfort, our entertainment, and what we want to do. Let’s take a step back and look at the world’s emphasis upon food, eating, pleasure, and doing the things they do. They always have food involved. It always has a pleasing of the flesh.
So, look at the Israelites as all they do is complain over and over again about food and drink. They just want God to fix a meal for them. As long as he does that, they are content. Again, we are nine days later from the last time they grumbled. This is May 24, 1462 BC. Again, I won’t die over these dates and I won’t even debate them. I’m just going to repeat what somebody else has researched.
Exodus 17:1 – The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin…
So they had just committed sin, but they are moving forward. They have learned
their lessons, right? Not at all.
Exodus 17:1 – traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
One thing we’ll see is that they blame the leadership for where they were at, but they lost sight of the fact that it really was God leading their lives. So, regardless of who you want to blame—Adam and Eve blamed each other, the Israelites blamed the leadership—you have to realize that if you are seeking God, you are where you are because he is leading you. The hardships that you are beginning to face are a direct act of his hand in your life.
Exodus 17:1 – The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
They are going to face some hardships and troubles. They come to a place of need. They are thirsty, but they can’t find anything to drink.
Exodus 17:2 – So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
It doesn’t say they prayed. It doesn’t say that they sought God. An immediate need came up in their lives and all they do is quarrel, argue, and complain against each other. So, as a body, God is going to lead us into certain positions where there is a need, and we can have one of two reactions. We can deny ourselves a little bit and seek the living God, or we can begin to quarrel against each other, fight, argue, or blame leadership. We are going to miss the grace of God if we do that, all because we want a glass of water.
Exodus 17:2 – So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
Now, Moses could only lead them where God was leading them, so he wasn’t to blame at all. They never could catch on, that no matter where God led them he would meet their needs in some fashion if they just had a little bit of faith. If they were willing to deny a little bit of their flesh, God would be able to glorify his name and meet every need in abundance. But they just refused to do so.
Exodus 17:2 – So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Arguing and yelling break out, all over a glass of water. The problem is most of us aren’t in the desert, so our needs aren’t reduced down to that basic level. But if you back up and look in your own life at the times when you’ve argued with somebody, you will find that there is some basic elementary thing that you want.
Exodus 17:3 – But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
There is never a clear perspective with these people. You never could go to them and say, “Just trust the Lord and see what he’ll do and how he will deliver.” It is always, “We’re going to die!” One little need and that’s it! “We are over with. We’re toast. We’re going to be destroyed and you brought us out here. You are at fault. You are to blame. We are going to be totally destroyed.” They weren’t even close to that.
They at least had enough energy to quarrel, didn’t they?
Exodus 17:4 – Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
Again, we are talking nine days from the last incident, not to mention they saw God deliver them miraculously, in powerful ways, out of Egypt. They had no reason to quarrel or complain or to doubt at all. But, that’s the whole problem. We want our flesh fed and that gives rise to complaining and unbelief. So many people say, “Oh, I just need more faith. I just need more belief,” when the real problem is their flesh. They just want something, and they can’t get it quick enough.
Exodus 17:5 – The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people.”
Now, up until this point, the people had not been judged. His wrath has not broken out against them. God has been very patient to allow this grumbling to take place and to try and teach them. So, God sent Moses ahead of the people to teach them how to have faith. God is trying to be a very loving and patient God as Moses shows the people how to trust him. We are going to see that eventually God’s anger is going to break out because they refuse to learn their lessons. All they wanted from God is what they could get from him, and this is why most people go to church. They want the peace from him or the joy or they even want salvation from him. They don’t fall in love with him. They fall in love with the things that he can provide. This is why God becomes angry. Who wants a child living in your household if the only reason he is there is to get something from you. Eventually you are going to say, “Get out! Fend for yourself.”
Exodus 17:5 – The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel…”
“I’m going to demonstrate to the people how to have faith and to trust me.” And so, God understands, especially when we are young, that we don’t have the faith necessary to trust him. He realizes that when we first come out of Egypt all we are consumed with is meeting our basic needs, and we are not so sure we can trust him. Is this really the gospel call? Is this message of the cross really true? God will answer and he will speak in very loving, kind terms. But, he wants you to grow up and get to a place that when he doesn’t answer quite so quickly or in the way you want him to answer, you can still have trust, you can still love him, and you can still be at peace. So, don’t let God’s kindness fool you into thinking that he is somehow justifying your sin or that your request was noble and holy.
Exodus 17:5 – The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.”
He wants the elders to come and see, and he takes the staff to remind them of how he worked in the past. In the future this incident is going to repeat itself again but God doesn’t tell Moses to take the staff. He tells him to speak to the rock to bring water because they should have grown enough. They shouldn’t need all of these outward signs. When I was a very young Christian, God would answer quickly and he would answer powerfully. I would try to repeat that same pattern over and over again as I grew, but it just wouldn’t happen. God refused to do so. He doesn’t want us dependent on outward things and he doesn’t want us dependent on baby things. He wants us to be able to trust him in all circumstances so that we no longer need the rod and the staff. We no longer need this big sign from God. So, when God comes to you in dreams and visions, and when he works in powerful ways or gives you words of knowledge, all those are good and rejoice in them, but God wants you to outgrow those things. He wants you to be mature enough to understand his will. If he gives me no dream, no vision or provides no special revelation, I still know what his will is and I will still trust him.
Exodus 17:6 – “I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
And so we stand by the rock, Jesus Christ. God comes along and he strikes Jesus Christ and allows him to be crucified. He allows him to suffer, and living water flows out to us. We understand in that very basic first encounter with God that God is providing his own son to be struck to give us living water, but he wants us to move on past that understanding to get on with a deep relationship with him.
Exodus 17:6 – So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
They are to be a people understanding how faith works and how God meets their needs. Normally you don’t look up to a rock to find any comfort, rest or to find water. We come upon impossible situations and God gives us impossible answers. Normally men don’t run to the cross of Jesus Christ to be healed and find living water. That is the last place men run. They don’t think from something that offensive that they can find living water, and yet that is exactly where we are supposed to go. That is exactly what we are to strike against so that we can lead other people to his living water. And so we take people to an offensive, hard place where they do not want to go and where they normally do not look for living water.
Exodus 17:7 – And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Again, the root cause is food, isn’t it? They wanted a little bit of water. Their needs aren’t met quite quickly enough. In the same way, we come before the cross of Jesus Christ and we have a sin that we want to be delivered from. So many churches want quick-fix answers, but the cross is simply to wait upon the Lord to crucify the flesh. You have to wait upon the Lord to deliver you from it and that can be a rough place to be. You can be in need. You can be thirsty. What was it that Jesus Christ said while he was on the cross? He said, “I am thirsty.” So we go to a place where we wait upon the Lord to give us living water in due time.
Remember, these are a people who saw a cloud guiding them by day and a fire by night that gave them light and showed that God was with them. God was right there, but they couldn’t trust him. God has to deal with our flesh because no matter how many miracles happen, or how much God comes with a loud thunder, if the flesh is not crucified, we can never trust in him and we can never rest. We always have to have more miracles. We always have to have something more exciting. This is what happens in the world around us. There is more and more entertainment going on within the church. We see men grabbing onto miracles and big events. We want God to meet a need but he doesn’t come in the way that we want. Our flesh isn’t being pleased. It is not pleasing to the eye. It is not good for wisdom. It is the cross. It is a rock. It is a hard place. In Exodus 19:1 the law is about ready to be given.
Exodus 19:1 – In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai.
They were three months out in the desert. And, now the law is going to be given and God is going to speak of all the rich things that are in him.
Exodus 19:2-4 – After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt…”
He is trying to draw them with a love song. He is trying to well up within them gratitude and thankfulness. He is trying to remind them, “This is how I work and direct in your life. This is how I answer prayers,” so that they might have rich faith to wait upon him at this moment.
Exodus 19:4 – “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
He is trying to say, “I am bringing you into fellowship with me. I delivered you from Egypt. I carried you on eagle’s wings. I was intimately involved with you to bring you to a place where we could fellowship together.” But, the people will not be interested in fellowship. They will be more interested in the legalism of the law than fellowshipping with the living God.
Exodus 19:5 – “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”
This isn’t a man coming down. This isn’t God just coming down with laws and rules and regulations. He is saying, “You are a treasured possession. I love you. You are my children.”
Exodus 19:5-6 – “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
So again he is reminding them of his love, his concern, and the kind of relationship he wants to draw them into. There is going to come a time when Moses goes up on the mountain to receive the law and to come down and teach the people. They are going to grow a little bit weary with all of this doctrinal stuff, and they are going to want their flesh fed.
Exodus 19:7-9 – So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
We will do everything that he commands. It doesn’t say that they are excited about the living relationship into which he draws them. It doesn’t say that they come with any humility. They do not plead, “Well, we failed. We faltered. We want to be his children anyway. May he have mercy on us.” They acknowledge the rules and regulations. They want to be a treasured, holy people, but they have no humility about who they are. It is not the relationship that they are concerned with; it is what they can get from God.
Before we go any further, let’s go to Acts 7:36. While Moses is receiving the law, the people are becoming very, very restless. We, too, can become very restless as God begins to teach us doctrine, and as we begin to read his word. We want something more exciting. We want something more joyful.
Acts 7:36-38 – “He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.”
Now, look at verse 39. They were with God. They were out in the desert worshipping. They were receiving the law. The tabernacle was being established.
Church was being formed. They were experiencing the grand miracles of God.
Acts 7:39 – “But our fathers refused to obey him.”
What was the real cause of their disobedience? It says:
Acts 7:39 – “Instead, they rejected him…”
They rejected a personal relationship with the living God. They wanted the rules and regulations. They wanted the correct doctrine. They wanted it all outlined, but they were rejecting him because he was offensive. He had a cross. He was going to deal with their flesh.
Acts 7:39 – “…and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.”
This is so amazing to me. Did they ever say, “I have had enough of this? I’m leaving this desert and go back to Egypt”? They never took the steps, did they? If I had been these people out in the middle of the desert, what would I have done?
Why would I continue to walk around and follow Moses? Eventually I would have said, “I’m going back. Goodbye.” But they never left because they wanted the peace from God. They wanted the love and protection from God. They want all of the things he could give. He just refused to conform to what they wanted, and because he would not conform they made a golden calf. Though they were with him, though they were worshipping, though they were serving him and working in the tabernacle, though they were elders, in their hearts they were still back in Egypt.
Acts 7:40 – “They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him.’”
“We don’t know where Moses is at or what he is doing. He is hanging out with the
Lord. He is gone to get all of this doctrinal stuff. All he does is read scripture, and then he comes back and gives us stuff. We can’t even hardly follow it or put it all together. We don’t know where he is. Where is the entertainment, the food, and the fun that we had in Egypt? All we do in church all day long is talk about sin and being crucified to self. Where is there a little bit of fun, grace, and mercy?”
Acts 7:41 – “That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf.”
In their hearts they were always back in Egypt, and now, it just bursts forth.
Acts 7:41 – “They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made.”
When we do not accept the cross of Jesus Christ, when we do not go to the rock that is hard, we will form Jesus Christ into the image we want him to be. Where we reject a cross that is offensive to our Christianity—let me repeat that—where we reject a cross that is offensive to our Christianity, we will form that Christianity into what we want it to be. That is exactly what the Israelites did.
This is not some Old Testament story. This is written down so we might pay attention and not commit the same sins they did. I know a lot of people who say, “Well, I don’t literally go out and build a golden calf.” No, you call it something else.
1 John 5:20 – We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Jesus Christ has come on his terms. He has come by the cross. We know who he is. We know what this message is. Let us not try and change him into something else. Why do you think there are so many churches, so many different denominations, and so many different ideas? Because nobody likes the way Jesus Christ comes and what he presents, so we fashion and form him into something else. We take all kinds of tools and make him into an image that is acceptable to us. That is why it says in verse 21.
1 John 5:21 – Dear children…
Do we see what God is trying to say to us? “I brought you on eagles’ wings. I brought you to myself. I’ll bring you into a living relationship with me. Throw away the idols. Throw away the Christianity you form, that is your own opinions and your own thoughts.”
1 John 5:21 – Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Let us be very careful about the kind of Christianity that we live. Are we fashioning Jesus Christ and trying to make him conform to what we want him to be or are we going readily to a cross that will crucify the flesh and letting God be God? Are we falling in love with the living God or are we falling in love with our religion?
I wish we had time to go through this whole complete story. Moses again is up on the mountain getting the law. He is getting the light. God is beginning to communicate, “This is how you worship me. This is what our relationship is based on.” When you look at these laws, they are all good laws. They are to benefit the people. In the same way when we talk about doctrine and look at Scripture, his commands are not burdensome. They aren’t heavy, legalistic things. They are to bless us if we obey them fully from the heart.
Exodus 32:1 – When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain…
They are getting bored! There is nothing exciting happening anymore. Church is dull. The pastor is not even around. Where did he go? What is he doing? He is up there studying and praying. He gets to see God and all we get to do sit around and wait.
Exodus 32:1 – When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said…
They go to the man who represents the spirituality of the camp and they say, “Do something for us.” The same thing happens at church. It gets a little boring at times. The doctrine gets a little heavy. It gets a little difficult. God puts us in hard situations, and so we find somebody who will do something to make worship a little bit more exciting, to make church a little more inventive, a little more joyful.
Exodus 32:1 – “Come, make us gods who will go before us.”
The sin just bursts forth. You know how it is. You deny yourself and deny yourself. You do what the cross says. But, the minute Moses is gone, sin just bursts forth and you indulge the flesh in every way that you can.
Exodus 32:1 – “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses…”
Moses is no longer a brother! He is no longer a leader, now he is “this fellow.” There is nothing left of the intimate relationship between Moses and the people—if there even were one to begin with.
Exodus 32:1 – “As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt…”
If you listen to people’s logic long enough, they condemn themselves. They are acknowledging once again that Moses led them out of Egypt. They really don’t care about him, but they admit that he did take them out of Egypt. And yet, their excuse is, “We don’t know what happened. Bring us a God who will take us back to Egypt.”
Exodus 32:1 – “As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Could they not have trusted God? Could they not have waited on the Lord to bring Moses back? “We just don’t know what has happened or what’s going to happen in the future. Where is this message going to end up? “When people begin to see how serious the message of the cross is, they will say, “Well, what if this happens? And what if this happens? Remember that leader and how bad that church was? What if… What if… What if… We don’t know where Moses is. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know where we’re going to be six months from now. We need something we can see and understand. We need something that looks pretty. We need something that we can fashion and control that will do us good.” People do not want to live a life of faith that doesn’t know what the Lord has in mind 6 weeks or 6 hours from now. To live a Christian life is a very dangerous thing. Otherwise, faith wouldn’t be required. There are lots of risks!
Exodus 32:2 – Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”
They are willing to sacrifice for this cause. You can get them to come to this revival meeting. They do it quickly and with great joy.
Exodus 32:3 – So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.
There was no hesitation. They obeyed that rule. If you give the people what they want, if you remove the cross of Christ from Christianity, they will make sacrifices. I’ve seen it hundreds and hundreds of time. God tries to deal with peoples’ flesh by telling them to deny themselves in a certain way. They refused to do so and they will leave the Lord over that issue. But then in the world they will deny themselves in the very same area to get something out of the deal. So, all the people denied themselves and took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. Men will sacrifice for certain things. What you are going to sacrifice for? You are either going to sacrifice to get something for yourself or you’ll sacrifice for the Lord. Either way, you are going to lose it all.
Exodus 32:4 – He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.
When God told people to build an altar to him, he always stipulated that no tools were to form the rocks. Man’s hands were not to fashion it. Our Christianity is not to be something we fashion, put together, and mold it into a certain thing that we like. It is to be as God comes in its rough fashion, and in the way that he determines, not what we want him to be.
Exodus 32:4 – Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Before they built the idol, they were acknowledging that Moses had brought them out, but now they have this shiny gold calf, and so they try to say it brought them out of Egypt. They begin to live a lie. Notice how quickly they go from acknowledging the truth, to saying, “This is the lie with which we will worship,” all because they want something. All because they are bored and want their bellies fed. It is not anything deep and rich or like their grandparents injured them when they were younger, or their parents didn’t raise them right—they just want their bellies fed and that’s it! They want to gain something for self out of this deal. They want to be able to control the situation. They want a god that looks pretty and allows them to party around a little bit.
Exodus 32:4 – “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Aaron becomes a little bit concerned at this point. I don’t know what went through Aaron’s head. It is possible that he told them to take off their earrings because maybe he knew that wasn’t the best thing to be wearing, so he thought he would try and clean up the camp a little bit. “Okay, I know they are going to sin, but we are going to try and make the sin a little bit noble. I’m going to try and work a little bit of good.” There is a lot of that mentality that takes place in the church. We know people need things to entertain their flesh, so we try as a church to clean those things up by making a “Christian” version. We do not attack it directly. We do not put it on the cross. We try and make it look noble. We know it is not quite right, but we will keep it in its proper perspective.
Exodus 32:5 – When Aaron saw this…
He begins to see it getting it out of hand. It finally begins to dawn on him what is taking place. He comes up with a plan, not to destroy the idol, not to crucify it, not to put flesh to death, but to make it look noble.
Exodus 32:5 – When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf…
So, here is the golden calf and now he lays an altar in front of it and announces, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” It is done in the name of the living God. It is done in the name of Christianity, but it has a golden calf with it. There is a lot of that kind of worship taking place in the churches today. When you know that it is wrong and that people are indulging their flesh, but in order to justify it, you lay this altar down and say, “Oh no! We are worshipping before the Lord. We are giving it to the Lord.” Years ago, I remember a church announcing that they were going to have a pig roast down at a certain lake and then baptisms afterwards. Talk about justifying the party and feeding the flesh. Notice how the people respond in verse 6. When Moses was around, all they did was grumble about being in the desert and missing Egypt. But now notice what happens.
Exodus 32:6 – So the next day the people rose early…
Oh, they are out of bed! Who wants to get out bed to face a Christianity that crucifies your flesh? You drag yourself out of bed knowing you’ve got to deny yourself and go through some hard things. But, when there’s a golden calf involved, something a little shiny, a little more exciting, and they’re out of bed! They are ready! This is a revival meeting at its best.
Exodus 32:6 – So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings…
Oh, they are going get the Christianity out of the way as quickly as possible. They get their quiet time. They get their Bible study done. Let’s give church a summer schedule. There’s an earlier schedule in the summer so people can enjoy the rest of the day.
Exodus 32:6 – So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings.
We are in fellowship with one another. We have all of the sacrificing going on in addition to Bible study.
Exodus 32:6 – Afterward they sat down to eat and drink…
They are getting all of the religions stuff out of the way so that they can sit down. What do people do in church at 11 o’clock? They start looking at the clock thinking, “Where are we going to eat at 12 o’clock? What restaurants are open?
Who has the best bargain? Where is the best buffet?” They sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. What a holy people! What a righteous people! Afterward, they just sat down to eat and to drink. That’s it! That was the whole motivation. That is what all of the talk about Moses being gone, coming out of Egypt, and the golden calf was about. It was all over food. It was all over sitting down to be able to eat and drink when you want to. This is so much of what is being called Christianity going on out there and if you boil this all down to its essence it would be over food. It would be over the most basic things that man wants to do. But, this issue is so close to us. It is what caused us to fall, but we can’t see it because it is a festival done in the name of the Lord and there is an altar in front of that idol. They are doing the best that they can and they are seeking God. Look at the sacrifices and look how they get up early. Look at all of the good and noble things that they do. Their god is their stomach, Philippians says. Their mind is on earthly things.
Exodus 32:6 – Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
They did not get up to worship or seek the living God. Church is out of the way. They are satisfied. Their bellies are full. Now they are ready to do act like the world does—to indulge in pagan revelry. Look at how the church loves the sporting events. It comes down to the most basic, elementary things. We want our belly fed. We want to have a little bit of fun.
Exodus 32:7 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.”
Don’t be fooled, they have become corrupt. We have to ask ourselves, “Are we going to allow ourselves to become corrupt because we want our bellies fed? Because we want just a little bit of our flesh pleased?” Our Christianity will become corrupt unless we keep the cross in focus. Unless that cross is doing the crucifying
in our lives, slowly over a period of time, we will become corrupt. We will begin to fashion our own idol. We will begin to please ourselves and our flesh just a little bit
and then a little bit more. It may not come all at once, but at some time it is going to come forth and everybody will see it. Ask yourself, “What is in my heart? What do I live for? What drives me? What do I deny myself for? What is it that I seek?” Have you turned back to Egypt in your own heart?
Exodus 32:8 – “They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’“
Read the entire story sometime and you will see that this idol has to be destroyed.
There is no toleration between this kind of Christianity and the cross of Christ. There is no compromise. It’s not a matter of “they are doing the best that they can”
or “they fell into a little bit of sin.” It is a contest between idolatry and the living God. It is a contest of having the kind of Christianity that we enjoy and that pleases our flesh, or picking up the cross and following Jesus Christ. It is a clear contest. If it is gray for you, if it is fuzzy for you, then you are still an idolater. It is very clear. During this year Moses has been receiving the law and the commands of the Lord and then a golden calf springs up. Then, Moses goes back up into the mountains and he begins to continue to receive the law, the tabernacle, the offerings, and the
sacrifices. And, God basically is arranging the camp. What I want us to understand
is that God is still moving among the people, but in their hearts they are back in Egypt. So, we too could be experiencing all of the things there are of God, and yet in our hearts where do we really belong and where are we really? God can come along and say, “Here are some elders and deacons, and this is how we arrange the church to glorify my name,” but what lingers in the heart? They are experiencing all of the grand things of God, the coming of the law, the arranging of the tabernacle, the anointing oil, and the proper positions of everyone in the camp. But, in their hearts, they are back in Egypt. Let no church be fooled by God moving among them. He may be moving among them, but self is not being purged and the cross is not there. They are not dying to the flesh and they are not allowing God to take their lives and to crucify it. It is about a year later, on May 22, 1461 B.C.
Numbers 10:33 – So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest.
They have the ark. They have the testimony. The realization of what God has done in establishing the laws, the commandments, the body, were right there before them. They could see it. They understood it in its fullness. They had matured enough. There is now no excuse for their sin. There were excuses when they were
young because they just didn’t know and they had never been taught. But, they are fast approaching a time when they have been taught, things have been arranged, everybody has been given their proper place, and there is no excuse any longer. You have to grow up and become mature. You have to pick up the cross. The cross must do its work.
Numbers 10:33 – So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days.
It is always three days. What are we pointing to? Does anybody want to guess?
The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest. If we, too, will hang on the cross just three days and wait a little bit, we might get a little bit of the resurrected life. But the minute we feel a need, the minute we sense a sin, the minute we get under conviction, we want out of it. We won’t wait three days. So, we never die enough on the cross to get the resurrected life. We whine and we complain. We moan. We come down from the cross, but we don’t wait in faith. We don’t say, “I’m under conviction. I have this sin in my life. God is purging me from this. He is causing me to deny myself. I’m just going to wait on him. I’m not going out to find a Christianity that is more exciting or some message that is easier to accept. I learned my lesson when I built the calf a long time ago. He is who he is and he knows what he is doing. He is a loving God.”
Numbers 10:34 – The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.
The Holy Spirit is there. God is with you. He is traveling. Think about it, we get a little bit of conviction and we think, “Oh, where is God? He has left me. I’m dying.” I have people tell me all the time, “I’m just a Judas.” Of course, my answer is, “There is the rope. Go hang yourself in the garage then if that’s true. You don’t really believe that, you are just in self-pity. You get a little bit of conviction and so you are all of these drastic characters.”
Numbers 10:34 – The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp. Whenever the ark set out, Moses said, Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.
God is trying to prepare the people for spiritual warfare. He is trying to say, “My Holy Spirit is with you. I will protect you. I will be with you. I will guide you and I will grant you victory over my enemies and over sin.” Now, think about this. There is no real battle taking place, but God is just leading them around, reminding them that they are going to do battle. So, right now, you may be in a moment of peace and the body may be having some rest, but guess what! He is whispering in your ear, “I will give you victory because there is a battle ahead.” He is trying to build your faith up before the battle begins. We get to a place where there is peace and rest and comfort, and so what do we do? We have a barbecue. We indulge the flesh. That is why James says, “If any one of you is happy, he should sing psalms to God,” not watch a little TV or take a little bit of comfort. Listen to him now, because he grants you peace and rest so that when the battle comes you are ready and you can march through it. You won’t be frantically crying, “Oh, I need more faith now!”
Numbers 10:36 – Whenever it came to rest, he said, “Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel.”
In the evening when you go to bed, God is whispering, “You are my child. You belong to me. When the battle comes, when you feel my conviction, when the hardships are there, when there is no water and no food, I am still with you. I still love you. I’m trying to teach you something. I’m trying to glorify my name.” He whispers to us and tells us when we get up in the morning it is time for battle. It is time to march forward. We fight those daily little battles that come up, knowing that there might be some bigger battles ahead. Then, when we lie down and go to sleep at night, he whispers and he says, “You are my child. You belong to me. Sleep well.” Does it lead to death of self and a surrendered life? Does it lead to a life of faith? Does it lead to falling in love with the living God?
Numbers 11:1 – Now the people complained about their hardships…
Of course not! None of his speaking, none of his glory, none of the Holy Spirit, none of the blessings led to anything remotely resembling a life of faith or a relationship with the living God. They whine, “It is just too hard a message. It is just too difficult a Christianity. This message is just too narrow.”
Numbers 11:1 – Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord…
It lingers and dwells in the heart, and that’s where it begins. Then it begins to come out a little bit in our speech and maybe a little bit in our actions. Eventually the Lord gets wind of what we are saying, what we do and what our lives declare. Let’s see that this is not some nice Old Testament story. These are lessons for us to learn.
Acts 14:21 – They preached the good news…
This really is good news if you want to die to self, if you want to be delivered from
sin. It really, really is. If you want to just feed your belly, this is the worst news in the world.
Acts 14:21-22 – They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God,” they said.
We must! There is no way to get out from it. You are not exempt from it. You are with the whole camp. We are all out in the desert. We are all going to have this happen to us. Now, to those who love the Lord, this is good news because we have learned to see God glorified and have our flesh dealt with. We have learned to be a people that participate in the holiness of God. For those who want to eat and drink and indulge the flesh, in small ways or large ways, this is their death sentence.
Numbers 11:1 – Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
You had better get on in. These first few times when God begins to discipline them for their grumbling, he gets those that are on the outside. They are just tagging along. They are there, but they are not really with the program. I’ll tell you what, if your heart is not really with God you are going to get into a hard place and denying self is going to get old. Giving up all these things and fighting the fight is going to become wearisome. God is going to begin to strike on the outskirts of the camp among those who grumble first.
Numbers 11:2 – When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down.
They never could run to the living God. They always had to run to leadership both for their blessings and for someone to blame for all their problems. When you face these battles, when God leads you out, run to him. What is your leadership trying to say to you? What is Moses trying to declare? He is trying to show them to go to the living God. Seek him. This is the message. This is the grace.
Numbers 11:3 – So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
Did they learn their lesson? You know the answer to that question by now.
Numbers 11:4 – The rabble with them began to crave other food…
It just never stops, does it? A literal translation to this is “spicy food.” The worst fast we had was about fifteen years when I declared that no one was to have any spices with their food—salt, pepper, ketchup, etc. I thought that would be a breeze. When we were young in the Lord we tried all kinds of fasts. So, I thought, “Well, okay, let’s do the non-spicy fast. That ought to be a piece of cake.” It was the only fast I ever had to cancel in the church. I don’t remember how long it was supposed to last, probably a week. We got three days into the fast and people were fighting each other. They were calling me on the phone saying, “So-and-so is having grilled hamburgers! How come that is permitted?” And, so they were starting to destroy each other. I called everybody again and said, “We’ve got to knock it off. We’re going to kill each other,” all because we couldn’t have what we wanted.
Numbers 11:4 – The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing…
They were always wailing and moaning and groaning because they couldn’t have what they wanted to eat. God strips us down to the most basic levels to see what really motivates you. If we can deal with the most basic situation—when you can’t have ketchup for your French fries—without whining and complaining then you’ll be at peace in any situation.
Numbers 11:4 – The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!”
This is how it gets started. Two or three people start grumbling and complaining, and it just spreads through the camp. And so, watch yourself. If one person is grumbling in the corner, I may not get wind of it until it is all the way up in the front row, and by then everybody is grumbling and wailing about everything unrelated. “If only we had meat to eat!” It never records that anybody stood up and told these guys to shut up. When we hear each other grumble and complain, let’s tell each other to shut up. It is that simple, no matter how noble the grumble. My wife likes to do that quite often. “You are grumbling…” By the way, I’m not grumbling about her reminding me of that!
Numbers 11:5 – “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost…”
At no cost, just slavery to Pharaoh, just building pyramids, and a few other things. Just the philosophies and worldly religions that Egypt had to offer. Now you have the law. Now you have God with you. Now you have his Holy Spirit. Now you have all of these grand things. Yeah, really, it was no cost.
Numbers 11:5 – “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.”
“Man, we remember how good it was in Egypt.” What is it that they remember? Not the tourist attractions, but the food they ate. Now, look at verse 6. I find this to be one of the most ironic statements.
Numbers 11:6 – “But now we have lost our appetite…”
Big deal! You lost your appetite! Oh my! Let’s find other gods. If we can’t have what we want, we don’t feel like eating. We don’t feel motivated to do anything. We have lost our appetite. Well, goodness sakes! Let’s all pray and wail and plead with God to give us back our appetite.
Numbers 11:6 – “…we never see anything but this manna!”
The manna, which God had provided! You see, spiritual food is rather bland. Everybody wants something a little spicier and a little more exciting. We want worship to be a little bit more entertaining and the songs to be a little bit more enticing and exciting. Churches even advertise themselves that way. “We have something to offer. We have exciting worship. We meet these needs. Come here and you can have whatever it is that you want. “ There are no churches that say, “We just have manna. It is rather bland. It is rather plain. It comes from the Lord. We are dependent upon him. It is no big deal. You get it day in and day out. It is the same message over and over, and it never becomes any different. All the sermons are the same. They always point to the cross. You always have to die to the flesh. “ I mean, can’t we talk about something a little bit more exciting and a little bit more entertaining? It is always this manna. “But now we have lost our appetite.” We don’t feel like coming to church. We don’t feel like doing anything. We’re just going to sit back and whine and complain. “We never see anything but this manna!”
Numbers 11:6-8 – The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil.
Rather plain and bland compared to what Egypt offered. Not even garlic to put in the manna.
Numbers 11:9 – When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.
It was very gentle, very quiet, and it laid there for the people to go out and gather.
Numbers 11:10 – Moses heard the people of every family wailing,at the entrance to his tent.
Thousands and thousands of people wailing. Every household, every home, every place complaining about this message of manna. They just wanted something a little bit different. Why do you think so many Christian books are written on so many different subjects? Everybody is grabbing onto something a little bit more exciting.
Numbers 11:10 – Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled.
Yes, by this time, indeed! And Moses was troubled. Always, when you begin to grumble and feed the flesh, it is going to affect your relationship with the leadership.
Numbers 11:11 – He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?
Even Moses’ attitude is affected. It is a tough thing to stand up against everybody that grumbles and complains. Yes, the message is tough. Yes, we have to deny ourselves. Yes, the cross does its crucifixion. But, when people grumble and complain about it all the time, it is hard for anybody to stand up under it.
Numbers 11:11-14 – “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.”
It caused even Moses to focus back on himself and say things to God that are not true. God did not come to Moses and say, “You carry these people. You are responsible. You start preparing the meals on a daily basis.” Moses could see the manna. He could see that they could be fed. All of those things were there, but even Moses was sapped of his faith and his strength. Grumbling will destroy us very quickly. “Oh, this message is too hard. It is too narrow. The cost is too high.” Pretty soon we have destroyed each other.
Numbers 11:15 – “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
Fortunately, God does not answer all of our prayers. Don’t keep bugging him until he does because this is what happens.
Numbers 11:16 – The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you…”
Here is a real shift. Known to you as leaders, not known to the living God as leaders, but men whom you acknowledge and whom the Israelites say are leaders, not ones appointed by God anymore.
Numbers 11:16-17 – “…and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.”
God meets and speaks with Moses with compassion.
Numbers 11:18 – Tell the people: “Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!’”
We were better off under slavery, bondage and under our sin. At least we had things we could enjoy.
Numbers 11:18 – “Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it.”
You are going to get your prayers answered! When we whine to the Lord that we were better off in our old religious ways and how much easier it was than walking around here in the desert, he will hear us. Okay, you want meat? You are going to get it.
Numbers 11:19-20 – “You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month…”
I’m sure the hallelujahs were going up in the camp! God is answering their prayer! Moses is wrong. We wailed and we asked, and God provided.
Num 11:20-35 – but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?” The LORD answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again. However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp. Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food. From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.
Not Even Death
Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)
Preach The Word
I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.
What I mean by Sound Doctrine