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Sermons and Outlines

Numbers 11:1-25


Intro: A small monument made from a few stones marks the spot on Mount Washington where a young girl died on bitterly cold night. Yet, her death was something that did not have to occur. It seems that she and her father had decided to climb that great mountain without hiring a guide. As darkness fell and the biting cold sapped the last of their strength, they became discouraged and sat down on the trail. During the night the girl died from exposure and heart failure due to the cold. When the morning light dawned on that wind ravaged mountainside, her distraught father soon discovered that if they had walked just a few more feet they would have seen the lights of a place called "Tiptop Cabin". A place where a crackling fire would have warmed their bodies. A place where they would have been safe and protected from the cold and from the icy fingers of death. What prevented them from reaching that place of safety? In a word: discouragement!

In our text, we see discouragement in the life of one of the greatest men who ever walked on this planet; a man named Moses. As Moses climbed the mountain of leading God's people, he became discouraged because of the burdens he had been called upon to bear. As a result, he came to the place where he just wanted to thrown in the towel and quit.

Have you ever been there yourself? Are you there this evening? This passage gives us some insights into why this event occurred in the life of Moses. Hopefully, it also teaches us some truths we need when we fight the battles of discouragement day by day. I want to preach for a while on the thought "That's It, I Quit!" You may feel like saying that tonight, but before you do, let me show you what God has to say about this matter. I believe there is help for the hurting heart in the word of God this evening.


(Ill. The discouragement faced by Moses had its roots in all the burdens he was trying to bear as he led the children of Israel to Canaan. As those problems added up, he allowed himself to become discouraged in the midst of the journey. It may help us to look at what Moses was dealing with.)

A. V. 1-3 Moses Faced A People Problem - The children of Israel were nothing but complainers! They were never satisfied by anything! After a while, this would have driven anyone over the edge! (Note: We all have "people problems" from time to time! Anytime there is a relationship between any two people there will always be the potential for problems! As one writer said, "To live above with saints we love, oh won't that be glory! But to love below with saints we know, well that's another story!" Let me encourage you in this matter of dealing with others. A three step plan will guarantee you that you can overcome a problem with any other person. 1.) Love them like Jesus loves them, Matt. 22:39. 2.) Forgive them of anything and everything you think they have done to you, Eph. 4:32. 3.) Pray for them everyday! It is impossible to carry a prayer for someone in your heart and hate them at the same time!)

B. V. 4-9 Moses Faced A Provision Problem - These verses remind us that Moses was leading 2 million people through the wilderness and that they had nothing to eat but Manna. Of course, they did not like the Manna and they complained bitterly about it too! They tried everything they could to make the Manna taste like the food of Egypt, but it never worked and they griped, whined and complained about it every day! (Ill. Remember when your kids didn't want to eat something and all the faces they made? Imagine 2 million people making a face every day when they awoke to the Manna once again!) (Note: Sometimes we face provisional problems. In our situation, it may be some unexpected tragedy that befalls us and takes our funds. It may be medical bills, or job cut backs. It may be that there is just more month than there is money. Either way, I will remind you of something that we forget. Moses forgot it too! God did not call Moses to feed the children of Israel! He called Moses to lead the children of Israel. It is God's responsibility to feed His children! If you are facing a provisional problem this evening, let me remind you that if you are His and He is directing your life, then your provisional problems are His problems to solve and not your own! I remind you that He is Jehovah-jireh! I remind you that when He does the leading, He also does the feeding, Matt. 6:25-33; Phil. 4:6-7; 19! It may not be what you want all the time, but it will get you through the wilderness just like the Manna did Israel. They may not have always liked what the Lord gave them, but I never read where any of them starved to death!)

C. V. 10 Moses Faced A Personal Problem - Because of the weight of the load he was bearing, Moses allowed himself to become utterly discouraged. The word "displeased" means to be "broken to pieces, to be utterly destroyed". Moses had a breakdown! If we are not careful, the problems we face in life can produce this attitude in our hearts! It happened to Moses! It happened to Elijah, 1 Kings 19. It happened to Jonah, Jonah 4. It can happen to us too! (Note: What was the problem here? Moses had allowed the problems he faced to become larger than the God he served! Anytime that we allow that to happen in our lives, we are in danger of a major breakdown! We need to come to the place where we remember that every problem we face has the potential to be greater than our ability to handle that problem! Since that is true, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord as we face our problems. We must remember that He, not us, is the One Who fights the battles of life. He fights and we just get to enjoy the victory! (Ill. David and Goliath!)


(Ill. As Moses begins to talk to God about his problem, he talks to God is a way that reveals to us the condition of his heart! He takes a tone with God that is angry and irreverent! He shows us how not to pray in the time of a crisis!)

A. V. 11-12a Moses Prayed A Prayer Of Confusion - Moses seems to be asking God "Why?" He seems to be saying to the Lord, "These are Your people! I didn't give birth to them! They are your problem and not mine! Why then am I having to bear them and their burdens?" Moses couldn't grasp the "why" of the situation. Moses failed to remember that the details were God's responsibility and not his! God had called Moses to lead the people, not feed them! (Note: We have problems in this area too. I hear people pray and I hear them ask God "Why me?" They will come to me and say "Preacher, why is this happening to me?" There is no good answer to our why questions! However, I would propose that we need to adopt a different mind set concerning the troubles we face. I would suggest that instead of asking "Why?", we need to learn to ask two different questions:

1. Ask "Why not me?" - Jesus said that we could expect trouble in this life, John 16:33. Job said that we could expect trouble in this life, Job 14:1. Why then should we expect to live lives free from troubles and trials? When trouble comes to you, don't ask "Why?", instead learn to give thanks in the midst of trouble, 1 Thes. 5:18.

2. Ask "What?" - When the Lord sends trouble into your life, remember that it must be part of His plan for you, Rom. 8:28. He is merely growing you and showing you a new and more marvelous side of Himself! His purpose in the valleys He sends us through is to change us so that we become for like Him! (Ill. Thomas Watson said, "Affliction is the furnace in which God tries His gold!") Therefore, let us ask God, "Lord, what is the lesson that I have been sent here to learn? What new view of you am I going to get from this vantage point?" The question "What?" will produce far more favorable answers that the question "Why?"!

B. V. 12b-14 Moses Prayed A Prayer Of Confession - Moses came to the place to which we all need to come! He came to the place where he saw, felt and confessed his weaknesses. He knew that he was insufficient to the task at hand. He described himself as a father attempting to nurse a child! He had no ability to provide anything for those 2 million people! (Ill. This must have been how Paul felt as he felt the pain of that "thorn in the flesh". Yet, when he received God's great promise of grace, Paul was able to rejoice in his difficulty because he knew that his weakness merely opened the door for God's power to walk in, 2 Cor. 12:7-10.) (Note: It is difficult to come to the place of total weakness and dependence before the Lord. But until we do, we will never know Him and His power in our problems! Friends, the sooner we come to the place where we know for sure that we can't, that is the sooner will arrive at the place where we will know that He can!) (Note: I am acutely aware of the fact that I do not possess the ability within my self to do the things God has called me to do! If the messages are prepared and preached; if the souls are saved; if the sick are comforted; if the needs of people's hearts are met, then it will be the Lord that must do it! I am like Moses, sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the burdens of life and ministry, but I serve a God Who is ever able to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!") (Note: I will finish my course, but not through my own strength. I will do it through His and His alone!)

C. V. 15 Moses Prayed A Prayer Of Capitulation - In this verse, Moses is giving God an ultimatum! He says, "Either get me out of this mess or kill me!" Moses also confesses the fact that he cannot bear the thought of facing total failure of his hopes, plans and dreams. Moses has come to the place where he is ready to offer up his resignation. He is quitting! (Note: How many of us have walked in these shoes? The problems of life have become so overwhelming and the burdens so great that we begin to ask to be delivered from them, even by death. Can I suggest to you that it is not a good idea to give God ultimatums? It's all right to reach the end of your rope, but it is never all right to just quit on God! My friends, there is no place to get off! Many are trying, but God is not pleased! Make up your minds that you will remain faithful to Him regardless of what others do, 1 Cor. 15:58!)


(Ill. Whenever we come to the place that we allow the problems of life to eclipse the face of God, there will always be a price to pay. Moses paid that price and so will we if we allow things to become larger than God.)

A. V. 16-17 Moses Paid A Price In The Realm Of Authority - Instead of being the sole leader, Moses now had to share leadership with 70 other men. Of course, this means that the responsibility for the people was spread thinner. (Note: The best of all worlds is one where leadership is shared. In the church, there should be no little dictators or authoritative rulers. Leadership should be shared. However, we need to remember that when the time comes that we can not carry out the responsibilities given to us by the Lord, He will find others to do His work. This was the great fear of the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 9:27. Moses had been called to be the leader of the people, but he gave up that lone leadership position and had to share his place with others.)

B. V. 25 Moses Paid A Price In The Realm Of Ability - Verses 17 and 25 tell us that God also anointed these 70 elders for the task to which He was assigning them. Did you notice where God got the anointing that He gave them? He took from the spirit He had given to Moses and gave it to others! Moses became no less than he had ever been, but it is my opinion that his potential to be greater had become less than it had ever been. You see, what Moses had failed to recognize, and what the actions of the Lord pointed out, was the fact that Moses already possessed all he needed to get the job done for the Lord! (Note: When we come to the place where we are ready to quit on God, we have better be ready for God to remove His hand of blessing from our lives! You may think that you cannot make it, but if you are saved, then God has already equipped you with all you need to fight the battle you face. Ill. David and Goliath - Saul tried to give David his armor. David knew that what he already had, his sling, a few smooth stones and the presence of God was enough to win the day! If God has placed you in it, He has prepared you to handle it! If you quit, He will give the honor and the blessing to one who will stand and do His perfect will. He did it with Moses and He will do it with you and me!)

Conc: What will you do when you hit the end of your rope? If you are like Moses, you will try to find a place to get off and let someone else take the heat. If you do what is right, you will submit to that which the Lord is doing in your life and you will trust Him to meet all the needs, answer all the questions and solve all the problems! There was one thing Moses did right in this whole affair: he turned to the Lord in a moment of crisis. Is that what you need to do this evening? If so, the way is open. Come to Him, tell Him all about it and trust Him to take care of it! People used to say that when you reached the end of your rope, you should just tie a knot in it and hang on. A far better piece of advice is for you to let go of the rope altogether and rest in the arms of a God Who is able to hold you while He solves the problems in your life.

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