Summary: Exposition of Numbers 21 regarding a warning for us, we are reminded of two paths.
Text: Numbers 21:4-9, Title: Silver Bullet #3, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/26/11, AM
A. Opening illustration: let’s use alcohol or gambling as an example of something where there is no explicit prohibition, but it is nevertheless a bad idea; slavery too
B. Background to passage: remember back in Corinth where the spiritual believers are participating in meals in idol temples and causing others to stumble (believers and non-believers). And now Paul is explaining the reasons, while theologically correct, that these believers should abstain from these meals. His point is to be careful if you think that you are spiritually all that, you may fall, because you are not as spiritual as you think you are, if you are causing others to fall. And so leading up to that, he gives examples from the OT to the end that the Corinthians realize the seriousness of what they are doing; and so to the intent that they not lust after evil as the others whom God killed. Note: judgment was always on people who were in the cov community.
C. Main thought: By way of a warning for us, we are reminded of two paths. "I call heaven and earth to testify against you today! I've set life and death before you today: both blessings and curses. Choose life, that it may be well with you—you and your children. Love the LORD your God, obey his voice, and cling to him, because he is your life
A. The Path to Death (v. 4-6)
1. This is immediately following several victories granted to the Israelites by God. But it says that they ran short on patience. Literally it says that they were low on emotion, or emotional strength. Their impatience led to dissatisfaction. Their dissatisfaction was in temporal things (actually in miracles) that they could consume on themselves. Remember they were not starving, in fact, God was providing enough for every day in bread and quail. They just wanted variety. They hated (were disgusted) the miraculous food that God was providing. This was a completely self-centered dissatisfaction. And they had done this many times before – the wrote the first 7-11 song.
2. The first time that this had happened was in Num 11, and God was gracious and gave them quail to eat. But I guess they thought they could get a little more out of Him. So they “tested” Him; this is what Paul cited in 1 Cor 10. This is also what Jesus said not to do, and what Ananias and Sapphira did. And what they did was call God’s character into question. They questioned His goodness, His wisdom, His ability, His care, His love, it was all on the chopping block. God said, “Fine, if you are going to whine, let me give you something to whine about.” And then came the snakes…get Mackenzie’s fake one.
4. Illustration: This is the same motivation for people to have affairs. Same motivation for people who run up debt buying bigger and better “stuff,” when the other stuff is fine. Some people come to church just looking for something to be bad about – the lady who fussed at Herb Reavis for “encouraging their kids to kiss,” Some people Jesus couldn’t please. Tell them about Edward’s two rules for dating,
5. Anyone short on patience? Dangerous. Don’t get it now, can’t wait, obsessed. “God’s not answering my prayers.” “We are not out of this financial hole yet.” How many of us are constantly dissatisfied? Usually because things are being done the way we like them: music, temperature, preaching, teaching, parking, etc. We don’t like the way someone said something. It doesn’t suit our tastes, it doesn’t meet my needs, it doesn’t speak to me, it doesn’t look right… And this will produce bitterness, grouchiness, grudges, because IT AIN’T ABOUT YOU!
6. But when you have to wait on provision, deliverance, blessing, do it in faith, suffer well. Not to do so is to put yourself in danger of serpents. In a sense, this is what we do when we ask God “why” if we insinuate that there might not be a reason. Putting God to the test, to force Him to prove to us His character is grounded in unbelief, but is an affront to the Name of God. And there will still be consequences to incur if we say that He is not good, or is not able, or does not care. BTW, this is the basic “problem of evil” apologetic argument. And we hear a version of it every time a natural disaster or tragedy happens. God will not remain our whipping boy, and doesn’t have to answer to us. He is God, and we have no complaint against Him that has any merit. So with this knowledge, fight against dissatisfaction and impatience. First it was idolatry, then sexual immorality, now impatience and dissatisfaction with God. When those thoughts begin to rear up, say to yourself, “REMEMBER THE SNAKES, DON’T TEST THE LORD.”