Moses’ words re the Ark (v.35,36) centred Israel’s attention on God’s manifold grace in salvation and to a present hope of His interest and leading. The phrase countless thousands of Israel is a reminder that God did keep His promises to Abraham. We too should be encouraged to hope in Him!
God is at work here, we see that He raises the cloud – A clear sign that Israel was to break camp.
We see that Israel obeys the order for how they should travel, as set by God.
First Judah+. Then the Gershon and Merari clans of Levi who carried the tabernacle. Then Reuben+. Then the Kohath clan of Levi who carried the holy things. Then Ephraim+. Then Dan+.
As well Moses convinces his brother-in-law to stay with them and guide them through the wilderness. An outsider (Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah).
In the chapter 11 verses we see God at work. He consumes some of the outlying parts of the camp in His anger at the people complaining (this continues as something Israel do a lot).
We can sometimes think of complaining as something not really that serious. We all do it.
In complaining Israel were treating the Almighty as an equal, someone they could get annoyed with, being unhappy with His will for them, the direction He was taking them, the commands He gave them.
Sometimes we do this.
This passage should point us to Jesus.
We should be consumed by God’s wrath. There is absolutely no reason we can put together that would balance the scales in a cosmic argument of why God should not consume us all in our disobedience.
But Jesus took on this wrath. He bore the punishment we deserve. And He intercedes. While Moses prayed and the fire died down in this passage, Jesus is continually as we walk through this life at the right hand of the Father making intercession for His people (Romans 8:34).
A good protection against complaining is obedience. When the cloud lifts, go. When it sits, stay. Do we feel the temptation to complain? Get about God’s work.
Another protection is to burrow into God’s word, taking time to meditate upon it, spending quiet time in prayer with Him.
And His word tells us to be thankful! To praise His Name!
So let us be encouraged to praise God, to be thankful to Him.
* Father God,
You are the God from whom all blessing flow, we praise You!
Your Name is above all other names, blessed be Your Name!
Lord, Your steadfast love endures forever, thank You God!
Thank You that You chose us who were enemies to be Your friends, to welcome us with open arms, to cleanse us and work in us and for us, and to give us an inheritance like no other.
Thank You for our rock-solid steady and sure hope in glory Lord.