The Dangers of Discontent, Part 3: The Missed Revelation
In our review of Numbers 11, we’ve seen how rejection of God’s provision (Part 1) and replacement with their own desires (Part 2) forces God’s presence out of the Israelites’ wilderness camp. But that’s not all. The story includes details that provide clues about something more God had planned.
In His mercy, I believe God hid a blessing in the midst of the incident for those who would pursue the path He laid out. While, there’s no account of any of the Israelites doing so, it serves as a lesson to us today of how God provides us a way to correct our path when we’ve gone astray. It’s a testament to God’s patience and tenacity in His pursuit of us and shows us how to stay in His will and presence. It’s a revelation the Israelites missed.
First, let me excerpt a short teaching that has opened my eyes to many hidden revelations in the scriptures. You may be familiar with “The Sign of the Messiah.” I first learned it from Tony Robinson, Director of Restoration of Torah Ministries, whom I will summarize here:
As you read the Torah, anytime you see 1) pictures of resurrection, 2) pictures of renewed life as a result of deliverance from impending death, and 3) pictures of victory and renewed life as a result of death, we know the Torah is about to give us a teaching concerning the Messiah. I call these Themes of the Resurrection and the Life, and they are especially strengthened when coupled in some manner with the number three (3, 30, 300, etc.) Here are some examples:
- Yeshua declared Jonah’s resurrection “a sign” of His identity (Matthew 12:38-41). Jonah, who was in the belly of a great fish should have been dead. But on the third day he came forth alive.
- The first living things (plants, grass, etc.) were created on day three of creation. This is not strictly life from the dead; however shows the concept of life coming from a state where there is no life.
- In the binding of Isaac, Abraham was supposed to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, however God saved Isaac from impending death on the third day. In Hebrews 11:17-19 Paul refers to the incident as “receiving Isaac back from death.”
- Most Messianic figures in the Torah have this combination of resurrection from some form of death or impending death with the number three. These include Moses, Joseph, Samson, and many others who revealed or played a part in Yeshua’s life and Yeshua’s life itself.
Tony Robinson’s full study is very enlightening. Incorporating this concept into your learning will reveal Yeshua in places you never expected and deepen your relationship with Him.
Returning to Numbers 11, the story of the quail includes two clues of death, resurrection and the number three, indicating a revelation of the Messiah is at hand. The first serves as an example, the second as a lesson.
Clue 1: God promised the Israelites would eat quail for 30 days.
In this incident we see life and death reversed. Because the Israelites chose to bring the dead quail into the camp, food that would normally have brought life instead brought death. The Messiah is revealed as follows:
- Because the people rejected God’s provision, blood was shed to satisfy their sin of discontent. Because of our rejection of God’s provision in the Garden of Eden, Yeshua’s blood was shed to satisfy the payment for our sin.
- The quail died outside the camp. Yeshua died outside the walls of Jerusalem.
- In both cases, God provided the offering of blood.
- Because of their treatment of God’s gift of quail, the meat killed those who ate it instead of renewing them as they had hoped. The same fate will befall anyone who does not accept the gift of Yeshua.
Clue 2: The quail were placed about a day’s trip away.
“…and Adonai sent out a wind which brought quails from across the sea and let them fall near the camp, about a day’s trip away on each side of the camp and all around it, covering the ground to a depth of two cubits.” (Two cubits is three feet in US/English measurement.)
Why would God place the quail exactly a day away from each side of the camp? Why not closer? Why not in one place instead of all around the camp borders?
To answer these, let’s imagine what was required to retrieve the quail. From any side of the camp, a person would walk one day to reach the quail. They could likely gather enough in one day to satisfy the needs of their families for several days, then haul it home on the third day. Maybe they’d have taken the trip weekly during the 30 days. They might have made the journey four times.
The point is, God arranged the meat the Israelites had requested in such a way as to require a three-day journey. Apparently He had more planned for them than they realized. What if they had taken that three day trip? What Messianic revelation may have been imparted to them on each journey? What might they have learned about the character of God if they had done it God’s way? What might they have learned about themselves and their original complaint?
The Israelites never took that three-day trip. Numbers 11:32 tells us:
“The people stayed up all that day, all night and all the next day gathering the quails — the person gathering the least collected ten heaps; then they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.”
In their greed, they walked a full day, began gathering that same day, worked all night and rushed back the second day to set up their heaps around their tents. Their greed on their first trip prevented them from taking the intended three-day journey and from ever needing to take it again.
The Israelites’ discontent with God’s provision leads to a complaint about meat. Despite their rejection of Him and His anger at their request, God gives them what they asked for and, in His mercy, sets it up in such a way that He could reveal Himself to them in the midst of it, possibly bringing them back to His provision and plan. Instead of acting according to God’s commands for keeping the camp holy, they choose to do it their own way, forcing God’s presence from them, replacing His plan for their own and completely bypassing the journey He’d set up to help them return to Him.
No wonder God was angry. The Israelites chose a detour around the potential blessing of that three-day journey. The blessing of life infused by God’s presence in the camp and on their journeys, as well as by the consumption of the quail, was turned to death – separation from God’s presence, no revelation of God during their gathering forays and ultimately physical death from the plague brought on by their actions.
The revelation these Israelites missed was about God’s character:
- He tenaciously shepherds us despite our wayward desires…
- He provides a pathway back to Himself even when we choose against Him…
- He desires to take the journey with us, so he can patiently reveal His truth to us…
- He graciously meets us with our felt need, but uses it to realign us to His plan…
…IF we will let Him.
We see this character of God in the giving of His Son, Yeshua. This is the revelation of the Messiah for us today.
The Israelites may have missed it, but it’s not too late for me if I’m willing to take an honest look at myself. Where am I discontent with what God has provided? Where am I pursuing my own path? What obstacles keep me from trusting His plan? What blessing and revelation am I missing as I pursue what used to be, what could be, striving for more of what I already have or wanting an easier life?
Learn the lesson of the quail. Align your path with God’s and walk in His full blessing.