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teen sitting in front of principal's office March 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Numbers 11, 12

Enduring Hardship

Most people (and even Christians) at one time or another lose their jobs. Sometimes because of financial difficulties they must downsize their lifestyle or perhaps even change their place of living. What happens when things aren't going well in a family or another organization? There is trouble in the ranks: discontent, complaining, and even desertion or insurrection. This happened early in Israel's desert trek before they came to Mt. Sinai, and unfortunately it continued after they left there for the Promised Land. Why did God bring hardship upon his people? People who believe that God will only give them blessings and never allow hardships wonder the same thing. If God has brought us into a new relationship with him by his Son Jesus Christ, why do we have hardships? Aren't Christians supposed to be devoid of trouble and blessed both spiritually and materially?

Troubles test the mettle of our character and make us better soldiers of Jesus Christ. We need to endure. The mettle of our character is tested through the heat of adversity. Greater faith in the LORD and endurance are often our commander's purposes for our hardships.

In Israel's journey into the wilderness she faced physical challenges. The desert was hot, dry, windy, and dusty in the day time, and cold at night. Besides a bread like substance that appeared on the ground on a daily basis (manna), there was rarely food or water in sight. There were over 2 million people and hundreds of thousands of animals to feed. There were venomous snakes in the wilderness. The people were open to attack by many enemies with no natural protection. Would God be faithful to them or would they die in the desert? Before we judge them, let us consider - if we were in their shoes would we be any different? How do we endure hardships?

The secret of enduring our present situation is to meditate on how God has already been faithful and then trust him to be faithful in our current struggles. The Israelites were forced to trust the LORD for their very lives, but they had already witnessed that the LORD was faithful. God, in his mighty strength, had delivered them from Egyptian bondage by ten miraculous plagues. He parted the Red Sea so that they might pass through on dry ground and drowned their Egyptian pursuers. He provided water to drink and bread to eat in the desert wilderness. He provided moral and civil laws for them to obey and prosper. He provided a tabernacle for their worship and a sacrificial system for them to alleviate guilt and sin. He instituted feasts that they could rehearse and remember all the good things the LORD did for them. He organized them for battle. He promised he would be with them and fight for them if they would obey. It would seem the people would be thankful and ready to fight the battles and gain victory, but there was trouble in the ranks; there was complaining and dissension.

First, the people complained about the camp food. This made God angry for he had miraculously provided it, and it tasted good and was nutritious. He wanted them to be content with what he had provided. Moses was exceedingly distressed over the complaining directed at him (leaders always bear the blunt of the blame) and asked God for help. God provided seventy elders to share the burden of the ministry, and God provided meat (quail) for the people to eat. Then, as they began to eat the quail, God plagued the people for complaining. How satisfied are we with what the LORD has already provided? Do we find ourselves always complaining? This makes God angry. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude for all that the LORD has provided. This is essential, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. An attitude of complaining is infectious and injurious to people's trust in the LORD. We need to be grateful for God's present provisions. This will help us endure hardships and lead us to contentment and faith.

Not only were there complaints about food, but there were also complaints about the leadership. Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses because he was married to a Cushite wife (we do not know what happened to his first wife, Zipporah; perhaps she had died). Perhaps Aaron and Miriam did not like her or somehow thought she threatened their perceived position in Israel. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord & Zuck, © 1985, p. 228). Possibly Moses' Cushite wife was accused of being unclean (not being a true Israelite). Perhaps it was for this reason that God made Miriam unclean with leprosy for a week to teach her a lesson about opposing God's anointed leader. It is dangerous to oppose God's chosen leaders because it offends him, and he will come to their defense.

Lessons to live by:

  • Troubles test the mettle of our character and make us better soldiers of Jesus Christ. (James 1:2-4). Do you know him? He not only helps us with our trials; He offeres us forgiveness of sins, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • Greater faith in the LORD and endurance is often our commander's purpose for our hardships.
  • God is angry about constant grumbling and complaining. It is ungrateful. An attitude of complaining is infectious and injurious to people's faith and trust in the LORD.
  • The secret of contentment and enduring our present situation is to meditate on how God has already been faithful. We can then trust him to be faithful in our current struggles.
  • Give honor to God's chosen leaders and obey them (Hebrews 13:7, 17). God defends his chosen leaders.

Today's Bible memory verse:

2Timothy 2:3 “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

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