February 22 - Nº 53 Numbers 10:11-28; 11; 12
All the Israelites were descendants of Jacob. While camped at Mount Sinai, they were divided into twelve tribes according to which of Jacob’s twelve sons was their forefather. The descendants of Levi, however, were set apart. God gave them a special role since they had stood with Moses and had not worshiped the golden calf at Mount Sinai (see #49 - February 18). Aaron (a descendant of Levi) and his sons became the priests. The other Levites were assigned to assist Aaron and his sons with Tabernacle duties. The Levites were no longer considered one of the twelve tribes since they ministered to all the Israelites. In their place, Joseph was given a double honor. Instead of having one tribe named after him, his sons Ephraim and Manasseh each had a tribe named after them. So, even with the Levites removed, the total number of tribes remained twelve. When the cloud began to move, the Israelites set off from Mount Sinai tribe by tribe. But the journey was tough, and they began to complain. This made God angry, so He sent fire that burned around the edges of the camp. Moses cried out on behalf of the people, and God stopped the fire. But that didn’t stop the grumbling. The people quickly became tired of eating manna again. They longed for the meat and vegetables they had eaten in Egypt. Moses grew upset. “God, what am I supposed to do?” he questioned. “I can’t get enough meat for all these people. Besides, they are really Your people, not mine! If this is how it’s going to be, just kill me now!” God sent Moses help. Seventy men received power from the Holy Spirit to assist him. Then God sent a wind that blew quail in from the sea. Soon quail were scattered all over the ground. Each family frantically collected bushel after bushel. But it made God angry that they were not satisfied with His previous provision for their needs. So, He sent a plague that killed the people who had complained. Even after that, people grew upset with God. No one seemed exempt from grumbling. Even Miriam (Moses’ sister) and Aaron (Moses’ brother) began to question why their younger brother was the one God had chosen to be the leader of the nation.They didn’t think Moses was the right choice since he was married to a foreigner. His wife was an Ethiopian—a Cushite! God heard them complaining. He loved Moses and knew that he was a quiet, humble man. So, He brought all three siblings together. Speaking from a cloud in front of the Tabernacle, He challenged Aaron and Miriam, “How dare you talk against my servant Moses?” Then God turned away in anger and left. When Aaron looked over at Miriam, he saw that her skin was covered with leprosy. He begged Moses not to let her die the horrible death of an outcast leper. Moses cried out for God to heal her. God chose to honor Moses’ request, but he told Moses to confine her outside the camp for seven days to punish her disgraceful behavior. The Israelites remained camped at that location until Miriam was allowed to return, then they continued their journey toward the Promised Land.
Is there something in your life that is causing you to grumble? Have you taken the time to look back at all the things God has done for you? We forget so easily that He loves us and that His care and timing are always perfect. We are so much happier when we stop complaining and find reasons to thank and praise Him.