Summary: Human beings love to blame their leaders for all their woes, but often our unbelief is the core issue.
Blame It On the Leaders
1. Clear-thinking people are often interesting people. One woman shares this story:
When my 88-year-old mother was called for jury duty, she had to submit to questioning by the opposing lawyers.
"Have you ever dealt with an attorney?" asked the plaintiff's lawyer.
"Yes. I had an attorney write my living trust," she responded.
"And how did that turn out?"
"I don't know," she said. "Ask me when I'm dead." (Reader's Digest)
2. Other people, however, are not noted for the gift of wisdom, nor do they want it. The Exodus generation had little sense, little consistency, was horribly unhappy by nature, and practically no faith. Today, we will continue to follow their blunders.
I. REJECTION of God's Will (1-10a)
A. The Utter GLOOM of Unbelief (1-3)
1. No shame about their unbelief
2. What they wished for – not conquest, but return to Egypt, death
3. Mass hysteria – people work themselves up
4. They were unhappy, and rare is the person who blames self for his/her own unhappiness; they look for a convenient scapegoat.
B. A Plan to Do Things THEIR Way (4)
1. First step: new leaders who embraced their agenda (leaders=scapegoat)
2. Second step: return to Egypt (location=scapegoat)
C. A Final PLEA by the Faithful Leaders (5-9)
1. Moses and Aaron bow down in grief
2. Caleb and Joshua: it is our enemies who have cause for fear, not us
3. The land of milk and honey is before us
4. They were at the threshold of the point of no return
5. Sometimes we make decisions – good or bad – that cannot be reversed
6. If we decide in despondency, are odds of a good decision are lower
In his book The Fisherman and His Friends, Louis Albert Banks tells of two men who were assigned to stand watch on a ship out at sea. During the night the waves from a raging storm washed one of them overboard. The sailor who drowned had been in the most sheltered place, while the one who survived was more exposed to the elements. What made the difference? The man who was lost had nothing to hold on to. [Daily Bread}
D. A Plan to STONE Moses, Joshua, and Caleb (10a)
1. Mass hysteria
2. God gave the leaders Moses, Caleb, and Joshua to the people
3. People do not appreciate what comes freely or cheaply
4. Studies on tickets: people given a big discount enjoy the play less
II. INTERVENTION by God (10b-25)
A. God INTIMIDATES the Israelites by His Glory (10b)
1. When Pharaoh hardened heart, God lit. forced him to let the Hebrews go.
2. But now we discover: the Hebrews had hearts as hard as Pharaoh.
3. God's miracles and harsh disciplines did not permanently register
4. Last resort: God intimidates, crushes, and makes people shake in fear.
B. God VENTS His Anger to Moses (11-12)
1. Similar to an event in Exodus 32 with the golden calf
2. When you are disgusted with injustice, it is important to know that God is disgusted, too. His anger burns more than ours sometimes.
3. When your feelings are devastated, God feels with you?
C. Moses TALKS God Out of Annihilating the People (13-19)
1. God is not human, but he is personal and relational, so he interacts with us as though human (condescension)
2. By Moses insisting, Moses is also preaching to himself.
D. Possible Purpose: To Strengthen Moses' DETERMINATION
E. God forgives, but CONSEQUENCES follow (20-25)
1. Limited forgiveness – did not zap
2. Similar forgiveness when a sacrifice offered or "Father, forgive them…"
3. But not restorative, complete forgiveness
4. They received a penalty: wander for 40 years.
Main Idea: Human beings love to blame their leaders for all their woes, but often our unbelief is the core issue.
When you have a small, weak God, you become more excited about
• church than God
• material things than God
• just about anything more than God
• Churchianity becomes the focus – not our personal walk with God.
III. Lesson from A MIDRASH in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:2,12-19)
A. Moses was FAITHFUL (2)
1. If results are the sign of a fine ministry, then Moses failed.
2. If faithfulness is the sign, then Moses succeeded.
3. Faithfulness is still God' preferred modus operandi
4. Moses was not just faithful to a routine; he was faithful to God and absorbed himself in God's Word and sought to obey it.
B. Examine Our Hearts: Are They Sinful and UNBELIEVING? (12)
1. Hebrews identifies us either as Calebs and Joshuas or part of the complaining crowd
2. But the underlying issue is belief (faith), or lack thereof.
3. Our actions are not the biggest issue: our attitudes underlying them are; and faith is an attitude.