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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 (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 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 it continued after they left there for the Promised Land of Canaan. Why did God bring hardships upon his people? Those 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 hardships.

In Israel's journey into the wilderness she faces physical challenges. The desert is hot, dry, windy, and dusty in the day time, and cold at night. Besides a bread like substance that daily appears on the ground (called manna), there is rarely food or water in sight. There are over two million people and multiple millions of animals to feed. There are venomous snakes in the wilderness. The people are open to attack by enemies with no natural protection. Will God be faithful to them or will they die in the desert? Will God be with us when we are facing serious adversity?

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 are forced to trust the LORD for their very lives, but they have already witnessed that the LORD is faithful. God, in His mighty strength, delivered them from Egyptian bondage by ten miraculous plagues. He parted the Red Sea so that they might pass through on dry ground and then 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 to alleviate their 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 that He will be with them and fight for them if they will obey. It seems the people would be thankful and ready to fight the battles to gain victory, but there is trouble in the ranks; there is complaining and dissension.

First, the people complain about the camp food. This makes God angry, for daily He miraculously provides it, and it tastes good and is nutritious. He wants them to be content with what He provides. Moses is exceedingly distressed over the complaining directed at him (leaders always bear the blunt of the blame) and asks God for help. God provides seventy elders to share the burden of the ministry, and God provides meat (quail) for the people to eat. Then, as they begin to eat the quail, God plagues 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 past and present provisions. This will help us endure hardships and lead us to contentment and faith.

Not only are there complaints about food, but there are also complaints about the leadership. Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses because he is 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 is accused of being unclean (not being a true Israelite). Perhaps it is for this reason that God makes 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 offers us forgiveness of sins, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • Our commander's purpose for allowing hardships is often to build our faith and endurance.
  • 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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