Summary: Israel called to be holy experienced many of the same obstacles that we experience as we seek to grow in Christ and to be used by Him. In Numbers we see Israel filled with discontentment, dissension, discouragement, and defiance – all deadly obstacles.
OBSTACLES TO INDIVIDUAL AND CHURCH GROWTH – PART 3
Introduction: Paul told the Corinthian church that the things that happened to Israel in the wilderness were lessons to be used to help the church in its spiritual growth. Called to be holy, the nation of Israel experienced many of the same obstacles that we experience as we seek to grow in Christ and to be used by Him. In the book of Numbers we find Israel filled with discontentment, dissension, discouragement, and defiance – all deadly to spiritual development and effective service for God.
I. DISCONTENT – Numbers 11:1-7
A. God had miraculously provided food for Israel – manna, which Exodus states that when prepared it tasted "wafers made with honey" and in its raw form tasted like fresh oil. But a mixed multitude, a group of Egyptians that came out of Egypt, began to intensely crave the culinary pleasures of their old life back in Egypt. They longed for the vast variety of fish that the Nile provided, the sweet chate or Egyptian cucumber, succulent melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. Their grumbling spread throughout all of the camp to the point that every family began to complain, grumble and murmur. According to verse 20, they wanted to go back into Egypt.
B. Within every church, there is a mixed multitude. They are those who make a “profession” of faith and join the church but never remove their heart from the world. They take displeasure with the spiritual and desire the worldly.
C. 1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
D. Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
E. Philippians 4:11-12 ...I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
F. BE CAREFUL! God may just give you what you want. Note Numbers 11:18-20 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
G. Nothing is more displeasing to God than complaining saints. Don’t grumble because you don’t have what you want--be thankful you don’t get what you deserve.
II. Dissension – Numbers 12:1-3
A. Moaning – Miriam and Aaron complained and questioned God’s servant Moses. As a result of Moses, without consulting Miriam and Aaron, choosing seventy leaders in chapter 11 to assist him in governing the people, they criticized Moses. They began by attacking his home life. Then they questioned his call and mission. They didn’t question his right to be a leader; but questioned why they were not more recognized as equally as leaders.
B. It is sad to say, in many churches it seems that the pastor just cannot do anything right. No matter how sincere he may be or how hard he tries, there are always some who stand ready to find fault and criticize. Someone has described it this way:
• If the pastor is young, he lacks experience; if his hair is gray, he’s too old for the young people.
• If he has five or six children, he has too many; if he has none, he’s setting a bad example.
• If he preaches from notes, he has canned sermons, copying from others and is dry; if his messages are extemporaneous, he isn’t deep enough.
• If he caters to the poor in the church, he’s playing to the grandstand; if he pays attention to the wealthy, he’s trying to be an aristocrat.
• If he uses too many illustrations, he’s neglecting the Bible; if he doesn’t include stories, he isn’t clear.
• If he condemns wrong, he’s cranky; if he doesn’t preach against sin, the claim he’s a compromiser.