Summary: We can learn from the mistakes of the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness. We can echo the Psalm of Moses to "Number Your Days."
“Number Your Days”
FCC – February 19, 2006
Text: Numbers 10-14
Introduction: We are continuing our Old Testament Challenge. The last couple of weeks we have been in Exodus studying how God used Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt towards the Promised Land. They were no longer slaves but free. But, they were free not for themselves, but to serve the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God gave the law which was an expression of His holiness, and a reminder of how far short we fall of the glory of God.
Now we move into the tough part of our OT reading: Leviticus and Numbers. We are going to skip ahead to Numbers and look at the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness. Numbers is a tough book to read as it is full of census and genealogies, but there is plenty of narrative about Israel’s time in the wilderness. They were complaining, impatient, and faithless people. A whole generation was denied into the Promised Land because they didn’t trust the Lord. Please don’t read Numbers and lose the life lesson in all the numeric details. The summary verse of the book is found in Numbers 14: 22-23:
Numbers 14:22-23 (NIV) not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times--not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. A generation of Israel didn’t go to the Promised Land because they treated the Lord with contempt. We can learn from Israel’s mistakes. Yes the book of Numbers is full of census and genealogical information, but the life lesson from the book of numbers is that we are to number our days!
It was Moses who wrote from the Wilderness Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. How do we number our days? Simply put, we have to make our days count. Each day we make choices and display attitudes that give God glory or treat Him with contempt. Each day can count for the Kingdom! We can learn from the children of Israel how to number our days…there are five things we must lose, and five things we must fill our lives with. First…
1. Lose the complaints, be full of praise
(Numbers 11: 1-3)
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. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
Israel complained about their hardships in the wilderness in the hearing of the Lord and it made Him angry. This reminds me that God hears when I complain and He doesn’t like it. Israel complained about lack of water, so God gave them water. Then they complained about food, so God gave them MANNA. They complained about manna, so God sent enough quail to make them sick. Actually God’s Word says that they complained and tested God ten times!! J. C. Hicks talks about all ten of these in the 9:15 Bible study he is teaching.
God delivered them from Egypt, fed them daily, and provided them with His presence, yet they had a habit of complaining in the wilderness. I know this sounds harsh, but complaining communicates contempt for the blessings of God. Do you ever complain? Did you know that God doesn’t like it? We find this truth in the NT as well…Philip. 2:14-15 (NIV) Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
If complaining communicates contempt, what is the antidote to complaints? PRAISE! When you are trying to find your way through the wilderness, praise God! Give Him thanks for His work in your life in the past and for what He is doing in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
This week’s OT reading included Psalm 22:22-24 (NIV). I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. To number our days we have to lose complaints, and be full of praise.