Summary: In this lesson we look at the way God reacted when Israel rebelled against Moses on two occasions. God wants us to submit to and cooperate with the authorities he has placed in our lives.


A. One of my embarrassing ministry mistakes came early on, while I was still in school at Harding.

1. I was working part-time as a minister for a congregation outside of town named the Highway Church of Christ. (Yes, it was right next to the highway.)

2. Anyhow, I was teaching a class on Wednesday nights for teens and college students.

3. On the Wednesday night in question, we all arrived for services, and during the assembly period before classes, the elders announced that we were not going to have classes that night, but that we were going to have a singing.

4. When the singing period was about to begin, I stood up and announced that I was prepared to teach my class and that the teens and college students could come with me to class.

5. So I headed toward my class along with several of my students.

6. As we were getting settled in for class one of the elders came in and announced that the singing was for all the classes and that everyone needed to return to the auditorium.

7. I, of course, was a bit embarrassed and a tad bit angry.

8. The elder explained to me that they needed all the teens and college students in order to have an uplifting singing.

9. One of the lessons I learned that day was the importance of respecting those who have authority over me.

B. To rebel against authority is to wade into dangerous waters.

1. God has placed us under authority for our own good.

2. As Solomon writes to his children in the Proverbs, he points out over and over again the importance of listening to instruction, and accepting correction.

3. Neither of these things comes very easily to most of us. Am I right about it?

4. We want to be the boss. We want to do what we want to do.

5. And we often find ourselves rebelling against the authorities in our lives, whether that authority be God himself, our parents, our teachers, our spiritual leaders, or the government.

6. Most of the time, when we rebel against authority, we are making a terrible mistake.

C. It seems our culture doesn’t help us much when it comes to the issue of obedience.

1. John Leo, a columnist who writes for U.S. News and World Report, wrote an article in 1998 titled “The Selling of Rebellion.”

2. In that article he chronicled the many advertising campaigns that promote rebellion.

3. An ad for the Isuzu Rodeo showed a grotesque giant in a business suit stomping into a beautiful field causing a deer to run for his life, stomping skyscrapers, factories and signs into the ground. One of the signs he stomped read, “OBEY.” The narrator says, “The world has boundaries. Ignore them.” Trying to trample the Isuzu Rodeo, the hapless giant trips, and the Isuzu zips past him and runs over a huge sign that says, “Rules.”

4. Burger King ads say, “Sometimes, you gotta break the rules.”

5. Outback Steakhouse says, “No rules. Just right.”

6. Neiman Marcus ads say, “No rules here.”

7. Columbia House Music Club says, “We broke the rules.”

8. An NFL video game’s tag line is, “No refs, no rules, no mercy.”

9. A Spice Girls popular lyric was, “The rules are for breaking.”

10. So what is the obvious message? “We should all rebel against authority, social order, propriety and rules of any kind. Rules are bad, breaking the rules is good.

11. From all of this, I think we can see why the lure of rebellion is so strong, and why people often fall into that trap.

D. Today, as we discuss “Avoiding the Mistake of Rebellion,” I want us to look at a few examples of people who made that mistake.

I. Their Stories

Story #1

A. In the first story from Numbers 12, we see Miriam and Aaron opposing Moses.

1. This story occurs not long after Moses had led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.

2. They have received the Law, but have not yet moved to the land of Promise.

3. The Bible says, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.” (Num. 12:1)

4. Scholars are not sure who this Cushite wife was.

5. Cush was the first son of Ham (one of Noah’s sons), and was the father of the southernmost peoples living in the Nile valley.

6. Moses’ wife Zipporah whom he married after he fled into the wilderness after killing the Egyptian, may be the person referred to here.

7. It is more likely, however, that the reference is to a new wife taken my Moses, perhaps after the death of his first wife. That’s why they were criticizing him at this point.

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