Rebellion – Born to be Free
God has provided some great examples of normal people or groups that exhibit some of the same flaws that each of us have. Each one of these people has a specific character trait that we want to examine a little closer. Perhaps you may see some of your own character in these people, I know as I look at many of God’s people I see them commit some of the same sins, or have the same problems that I do.
Rebels – Many of these verses we are about to look at are discussing rebelling against God but can be applied to a Pastor, of a spouse, a mother or father a friend or someone in your Church.
What does the word Rebel mean and what does it mean to be a rebel or to be rebellious? We want to let the Bible define its own terms so it is only appropriate that we look up the word Rebel in the Bible.
The sin of Rebellion provokes God!
Numbers 13:1-2 (KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
In Numbers 13 verse 1-2 we see that the Lord commands Moses to send men to search out the land of Canaan from every tribe. Moses obeys the command of God and sends 12 men to search out the land. Moses calls Joshua and gives him instructions to check out the land, the people, and the cities.
In verses 21-25 they go up and search out the land for 40 days.
Numbers 13:21-25 (KJV) “So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.”
Numbers 13:26-27 (KJV) “And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.”
But in verse 28-29 Notice the first word! Nevertheless….. But…. Doubt…. Were afraid…… The people are strong and great warriors… The cities are fortified, they have walls…. And there are giants there…… Technically this word means a cessation, or ceasing, and end or finality. But I believe Nevertheless says it all….
Numbers 13:28-29 (KJV) “Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.”
Vs. 30 Caleb the optimist says I am ready let’s go now, I know we can take the land.
Numbers 13:30 (KJV) “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
In Verses 31-33 we see that the other bringing an evil report. This means they brought a slanderous report. We see the others only had doubts and fear which led to them giving negative report of what they had seen.
Numbers 13:31-33 (KJV) “But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Chapter 14 vs 1-4 Here we see the result of the people who were willing to give a slanderous report because they were afraid to do what God had commanded them to do. The entire people lifted up their voices and cried all night.
Numbers 14:1 (KJV) “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.”
Vs 2-3 they murmured against Moses and Aaron and look they would have preferred to remain in Egypt as slaves and die there. The slanderous report of those who were afraid has now spread to the entire congregation….
Numbers 14:2-3 (KJV) “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?”
So in vs 4 they decide to pick a new leader and go back to Egypt, into slavery, from where God had just mightily brought them out of.
Numbers 14:4 (KJV) “And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”
They had seen God destroy Pharaoh’s army and Divide the Red Sea as they walked through on dry ground, provide manna, quail and water from a rock, but could not believe the report of Caleb and Joshua. Now we can see a parallel between ancient Israel and our lives today! How often does public opinion become swayed by the murmuring of a small group? Sodomites make up about 4% of the US population as of 2012 but they are driving political and social issues today. Here a small group has succeeded in causing all of Israel to cry all night, at most 10 people has effected what some estimate to be a couple million people, and to become afraid of the people and cities in the land despite the wonderful miracles that God had done already. Does this happen in our churches today? A small group or perhaps one individual gets upset about something and they start murmuring against someone in the congregation, or perhaps the pastor just like the Israelites did and they get the entire congregation worked up and before you know it the congregation decides to split or worse. In James 5:9 (KJV) it says “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” This happens in many churches so here are 10 steps to stop this before it every starts.
Criticizing and complaining is not a spiritual gift.
Ten Simple Steps To Stop Complaining
- Do you like it when others complain against you? Do unto others….
- Take your complaint to God and pray for your brother.
- Forgive your brother for all offense against you.
- Control your tongue. Resist the fleshly temptation to murmur against a Christian.
- Never tear down your fellow Christians. Always build them up.
- Speak highly of your brother in the presence of others.
- Check your motivation. Why are you complaining against a brother?
- Is it Christ-like to complain against fellow Christians?
- Stop and think. What will my complaining against a brother do to him/her and the body of Christ, and my witness to an unbelieving world?
- Remember you are accountable to God for your treatment of your brother.
Vs. 5-6 Moses and Aaron fall down on their faces… Caleb and Joshua tear their clothes. This renting of clothes is an old oriental custom of expressing grief or outrage.
Numbers 14:5-6 (KJV) “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes.”
Vs. 7-8 Caleb and Joshua again tell Israel how great the land is and pay close attention Numbers 14:7-8 (KJV) “And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.”
What is the difference in the attitude of the group that swayed the opinion of all of Israel and the attitude of Joshua and Caleb? Joshua and Caleb had faith in the Lord that if He delighted in them that He would give them the land. The group that swayed popular opinion was only looking at what they could do in their own strength; they had lost their focus on God.
Psalms 62:6 (KJV) He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
How often do we follow the same logic as the crowd? When problems occur, and they will, it is human nature to try to figure out how we can overcome the obstacle? A problem occurs and immediately our minds goes into problem solving mode creating a resolution that we can implement in our own. When all the time what we need to be doing is learning to take a breath and seek God’s guidance. Matthew 6:33 (KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
I find it interesting after witnessing this lack of faith by the group of men and the effect it had on the congregation of Israel what God promises to Joshua in Joshua Chapter 1. In verse 1 we read that Moses has died and God is speaking here to Joshua and providing certain promises. Vs 9 says Joshua 1:9 (KJV) Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Joshua learned this lesson to rely on God and trust in what God leads us to. When we disobey God and try to resolve problems on our own without praying about it do you suppose that upsets God, or provokes Him? Does this sound a bit like rebellion at its very core? Often this happens so naturally that we don’t even realize that we are rebelling against God. Let’s read verse 9. Joshua and Caleb still speaking at this time says.
Numbers 14:9 (KJV) “Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.”
Numbers 14:10 (KJV) “But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.”
In vs 10 the group decides to stone Caleb and Joshua but the Glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle for “whom to see”? All the children… So basically the congregation was ready to kill the Joshua and Caleb because they wanted to do the will of God. Folks I don’t know about you but picture yourself in this group, whipped up by the minority and you have decided to stone the people who wanted to do God’s will and all of a sudden, God shows up…….. I bet many people were scared to death after all they had seen God pour out his wrath before.
The real key to this is found in verse 11 let’s read that. Numbers 14:11-12 (KJV) “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.”
Here we see what God is saying about this people what the word Rebel mean. The people were provoking God and notice they did not believe God. The word “ere” negates the action of believe, and God says for all the signs which I have shewed among them.
In verses 12-17 the congregation is going to fall under the judgment of God.
Numbers 14:12-17 (KJV) “I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,”
We see what a mighty God we serve in vs 18-20 where God says I have pardoned according to thy word.
Numbers 14:18-20 (KJV) “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word.”
In vs 21-22 But, just like the nevertheless…. God here has more to say concerning all the times the people have tempted Him, or rebelled.
Numbers 14:21-22 (KJV) “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;”
Moreover, God went on to note that Israel had “tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice.” Those ten temptations against God likely were twice at the sea, Ex 14:11-12; twice concerning water, Ex 15:23-24; 17:2; twice about manna, Ex 16:2,20,27; Nu 11:4; twice about quails, Ex 16:12; Nu 11:4; once by the calf, Ex 32:1-7; and once in the wilderness of Paran, Nu 14:1-4, which last and tenth was the present temptation.
In vs 23 the reaping begins. Numbers 14:23 (KJV) “Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it.” Here the Lord is speaking about provoking again as He did in vs 11.
In vs 24 & 30 God makes a distinction between Caleb and Joshua and the others that went down to search the land out. God says He followed me fully; he had a different spirit with him, he and his seed I will bring into the land.
Numbers 14:24 (KJV) “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”
In vs. 26-35 The Lord speaks with Moses and Aaron and says because of the murmuring of the people that everyone from age 20 and up who murmured against him none of them will ever reach the promised land. For every day they had spent wandering thus far, 40 days, they will spend 1 year for every day wandering in the wilderness, 40 years until they all fall in this wilderness. God says I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation that gathered against me, they shall be consumed and die.
Numbers 14:26-35 (KJV) “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”
Vs 36-37 but the men who made the people murmur and brought the slander against the land, the evil report died from a plague immediately before God. Sowing and reaping. Israel had rebelled in sin. They sowed rebellion by provoking God and murmuring and they reaped death for their unbelief.
Numbers 14:36-37 (KJV) “And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.”
Nehemiah 9:21-26. Disobedience and rebellion.
Rebellion provokes Christ
1 Corinthians 10:9 (KJV) “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” Paul hearkens back to Nu 21:5-9 where Israel “spake against God, and against Moses.” They complained about their lack of provisions whereupon God sent fiery serpents into the camp, killing many. The sin was not so much their complaining, though that certainly occurred. Rather, they in effect challenged God’s leadership and authority in Moses, God’s chosen man as the leader of the congregation. The sin was rebellion. Its direct target was Moses. However, it ultimately was against God. God immediately dealt with them using venomous snakes.
The parallel to the rebellion against Paul’s spiritual leadership likely was not lost on the Corinthian readers. As was apparent in chapter 9 of 1 Corinthians, there was an element in the Corinthian church which had rebelled against and challenged the authority of Paul’s apostleship. The Apostle clearly used such an incident as example for the church age.
Rebellion vexes the Holy Spirit
Read Isaiah 63-7-10 Isaiah 63:10 (KJV) “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.”
Rebellion is exhibited in unbelief
Deuteronomy 9:23 (KJV) Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
Again discussing the Exodus in Psalms 106:24-25 (KJV) Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.
Rebellion is revolting from God.
Isaiah 1:5 (KJV) Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
Isaiah 31:6 (KJV) Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.
Rebellion is despising God’s council
Psalms 107:11 (KJV) Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Contemned means to scorn, to abhor or provoke.
Rebellion is refusing to listen to God.
Ezekiel 20:8 (KJV) But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
Zechariah 7:11-12 (KJV) But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
Rebellion is departing from God’s precepts.
Daniel 9:5 (KJV) We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Rebellion is walking after our own thoughts
Isaiah 65:2 (KJV) I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
Lastly what does God think about the sin of rebellion in 1 Samuel 15:23 (KJV) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
The Lord spoke about witchcraft and divination when he said in: