“I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me.“ Numbers 11:14
The Israelites set out to leave Sinai. After leaving Sinai and traveling in the wilderness of Paran, the children of Israel began to complain about the manna they ate and cried out to Moses for meat to eat. They spoke of the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they ate while enslaved in Egypt. The Lord’s anger against the Israelites became great and Moses felt the weight of the people’s discontentment. Moses felt pressured to meet the needs of the 600,000 people as though he were a parent to nursing infants. He despaired so much to the point that he desired the Lord to immediately end his life.
The Lord instructed Moses to gather 70 men from the elders of Israel. After the elders were gathered, the Lord would take the Spirit of the Lord that was upon Moses and place His Spirit upon the elders to share the burden of the people and to prophesy. The Lord asked Moses to have the Israelites consecrate themselves and the following day they would not only have meat for tomorrow but for an entire month until it became loathsome to them. The Lord then brought quail with a wind from the sea and the Israelites spent all day, all night, and all the next day gathering quail. Because of the Israelites greed, the Lord struck them with a plague and some were buried because of their greed.
In Numbers 11, we read of Moses taking the whole of the responsibility for the Israelites’ desires and greed. It was burdensome for Moses because this was unlike handling genuine disputes among the people (Exodus 18:17-18) but this was a matter of providing a request for certain food. In reality, the Israelites had all that they needed because the Lord supplied for them. The Israelites’ requests were in fact complaints and also later revealed as hearts of discontentment and ungratefulness.
Sometimes the consistent wants and desires of others can overwhelmingly weigh us down with a felt responsibility for what appears to be genuine needs but are really preferences. God, in His wisdom, showed Moses that He, not Moses, was the sole source and provider for the Israelites. God also exposed the greed, selfishness, and ingratitude, which masked itself as sincere requests for a basic necessity. As you think of Moses' experience with the Israelites and how their attitude affected him, pray and ask God to help you to recognize when you are taking responsibility for genuine needs versus taking the overwhelming and never ending burden of wants and preferences. God provides for all of our needs and we should rest in His provision, as well as His decision on whether to provide wants, desires, or preferences.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,