Numbers 11:4-29

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Numbers 11:4-9

                   “His nose is out of joint.”  “She needs to keep her nose out of everybody’s business.”  “They always have their nose in the air.”  We have many idioms in our language dealing with the nose—and notice almost none have to do with the nose’s primary purposes:  breathing and smelling!  Perhaps because it is often the most prominent feature on our face, we use the nose to symbolize the direction our heads and hearts are going.  Numbers 11 is somewhat centered around noses.  The literal translation of verse 1 is “when the Lord heard this, his nose became hot.”  In other words, God breathed fire and consumed some of the people!

What aroused such a passionate response from God?  The complaining of the people.  Remember we find two kinds of writings in Numbers—the priestly sections with their lists (Numbers 7 is basically like an excel spreadsheet) and the narrative sections with their stories.  For every story in Numbers, there is a corresponding story in Exodus.  They mirror one another.  The corresponding story to today’s scripture focus is Exodus 16.  The people complained because they had nothing to eat, so God sent them manna, a sort of flaky resin that could be ground up and baked into flatbread.  Each day people would open their tents and find a miracle on the ground.

This had gone on for over a year now.  A group of “rabble” got tired of the manna and began to complain.  These were Egyptians and other foreigners who were traveling with the Israelites.  They stirred the people up, who began to long for the fish, vegetables, and herbs available back in slave days.  The people wore Moses out with their complaints, and Moses took his complaint to God, saying he simply couldn’t carry the entire nation anymore the way a mother carries a baby.  This is when God’s nose “got hot” again.  God told Moses that so much meat would be provided for Israel that it would come out of their nostrils!

Moses was instructed by God to call 70 elders to the Tabernacle.  God would put some of Moses’ prophetic authority on the elders.  This is exactly what happened, however two of the elders didn’t make it to the tent, and starting speaking the words of God in the middle of the camp!  This disturbed Moses’ assistant, who thought only Moses should speak for God.  Moses had a great response—”I’d rather every person in Israel speak the words of God than speak words of complaint.”  We have an option today—speak words of complaint, or speak in the Spirit!  What direction is your nose turned today?  Are you focused on complaining about what you lack, or praying and praising in the Sprit?

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.


Have someone read Numbers 11:30-34.  What happened when the people got more meat than they could eat? 


Do you know people that are chronic complainers?  Are they ever satisfied when they get what they want?  Why do you think we like to complain? 


How can we as a church focus on speaking the words of the Spirit?  Why not spend time as a class in prayer thanking God for how our church has been blessed, rather than focusing on what we don’t have yet?