Sunday, September 27, 2009




· Today’s readings deal with spiritual renewal. In the Book of Numbers, we see the need for spiritual renewal among the people of God several times as they work out their salvation on the way to the land of promise.
· JI Packer in his book “Your Father Loves You” says:
Each revival movement has its own distinctive features, but the pattern is the same every time.

1. First God comes. On New Year's Eve 1739, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and some of their friends held a "love feast" which became a watch night of prayer to see the New Year in. At about 3 a.m., Wesley wrote, "the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground." Revival always begins with a restoration of the sense of the closeness of the Holy One.
2. Second, the gospel is loved as never before. The sense of God's nearness creates an overwhelming awareness of one's own sins and sinfulness, and so the power of the cleansing blood of Christ is greatly appreciated.
3. Then repentance deepens. In the Ulster revival in the 1920s shipyard workers brought back so many stolen tools that new sheds had to be built to house the recovered property! Repentance results in restitution.
4. Finally, the Spirit works fast: godliness multiplies, Christians mature, converts appear. Paul was at Thessalonica for less than three weeks, but God worked quickly and Paul left a virile church behind him.
· In summary, revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God's near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.
· Now let’s turn to Numbers 11 to hear what God wants to say to us today about spiritual renewal.

1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them. 4 Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”

1. The FIRST signs of THE need for a spiritual renewal among God’s people is when a spirit of complaining, being unthankful, and boredom with God begins to spread among the people.

· In the journey through the desert on the way from Egypt to the promised land, God provided manna—a food sent from heaven that was like a spiced resin for them to use for baking and cooking, and met all their nutritional needs perfectly.
· In Numbers 11:4-6, we are told what about a serious spiritual problem that developed among God’s people.
· Among God’s people were a group the Bible calls RABBLE—a group who incited God’s people to sin.
· The rabble rousers had a problem with God—they didn’t like the food God provided. They were happier with the food they had in Egypt. They said “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” DISCONTENTS.
· If they were Christians today, they would be saying “I became a Christian and all it got me is things are worse than before I got saved. I am bored with God’s second rate provisions.
· I want to go back to my life of sin and fill the empty and boring life of being a Christian. I would have been better off staying lost in my sins than following Jesus Christ.
· So the complaint of a few disgruntled unthankful Jews begins to spread like wildfire.
· Pretty soon, all the people are complaining to Moses demanding meat, and fish, and the variety of food they had in Egypt. As JI Packer said, the people had fallen asleep spiritually. They were backslidden.
· Even though a visible sign of God’s presence was always with them—cloud/pillar, they acted as though they did not live in the presence of a holy God who is there and sees and hears them.
· What they were basically saying was, “God, you saved us, you delivered us through mighty miracles, but none of that matters, and the spiritual food you want us to have is not good enough.
· We want to go back to being slaves and living in bondage so we can be fulfilled and be happy again.
· Whenever God’s people complain about God, they need a spiritual renewal because they are already on the road back to Egypt; back to bondage to fulfill the desires of their flesh.

2. A second sign that God’s people need a spiritual renewal is leadership burnout.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin

· Here is a sign of what happens when people have fallen away from God and are in need of revival and renewal—they make their leaders miserable.
· Moses was troubled. Having to lead disgruntled backslidden complainers was making his life miserable.
· What the people were sick of was routine and the same old same old. They were bored with God giving them what they needed. God’s will and wisdom were not good enough.
· It was like a big ugly town hall meeting where the people were telling Moses they didn’t want to go where he was leading them. So Moses goes to God.
· Lord, what did I do to deserve this? I can’t give these people what they want. The burden of leading these people has become too heavy for me. I need help or just take my life now.
· Today we would say Moses was burned out--constant stress had him feeling disillusioned and completely worn out.
· Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
· It occurs when a person feels overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands placed on them.
· As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
· Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
· This is the second sign of God’s people needing renewal—burned out leadership. A burned out leader is not good for the followers.

3. How God Brings Spiritual Renewal.

16 The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

A. First, when leadership suffers burnout because God’s people have turned away from God, God sends them an outpouring of the Spirit to raise up new leaders to support the leader in the ministry.

· Knowing that help is on the way is usually enough to re-energize a leader and help them overcome burnout.
· So Moses gathered the elders at the Tabernacle, and poured out His Spirit on 70 elders to help Moses.
24 So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again. [b]
· So sending the leader who is burned out new Spirit-filled leadership because God’s people have made him miserable is one of the signs that a spiritual renewal is beginning.

B. The next sign of spiritual renewal is God deals with the sin among His people.
18 "Tell the people: 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it.
· Mmm… God hears everything we say. When we think we know better than God and reject him, he will often step aside and give us an opportunity to run things our own way. Meat you want, meat you’ll get.
· The principle here is when we want things God does not want for us, he will often give us exactly what we want till we are so sick of it we don’t want it anymore.
19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?" ' " 31 Now the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail flying about three feet above the ground.[c] 32 So the people went out and caught quail all that day and throughout the night and all the next day, too. No one gathered less than fifty bushels[d]! They spread the quail all around the camp to dry. 33 But while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt.
· Spiritual renewal happens when God has a people who want what he wants for them. He will not bless our sinful attitudes and actions. The materialistic gluttons who craved the meat of Egypt died in sin—they lost their faith by trading the spiritual for the material; their salvation for a bowl of Esau’s pottage.
· Packer: Revival is the sense of God's nearness that creates an overwhelming awareness of one's own sins and sinfulness, and so the power of the cleansing blood of Christ is greatly appreciated. Then repentance deepens. And is followed by an outbreak of evangelism and others converting to the faith.
· When sin is active among God’s people like it is in western Christianity, when we want to consume the same culture as Egypt, when we don’t like God’s ways and think we can improve God’s blueprints for His Church, God has to deal with sin so repentance can lead to a people renewed in their love of God.
· Only a people with a constantly renewed love for God evangelize others. Renewal à Revival.
· In the wilderness, God’s anger burned against the people and he struck them with a plague to remove the sin from among his people.
· At the cross, God’s anger burned against sin as Jesus was crucified and the plague of God’s wrath removed sin from God’s people.
· In today’s Gospel, we read 42"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
· The rabble rousers caused God’s people to reject God and make Moses miserable. They were a stumbling block to God’s people.
· In our world today, there are people who promote sinful lifestyles, who tempt God’s people to reject God and be discontent with the Christian life. God says it would be better for them to get thrown into river with cement shoes than cause God’s children to fall into sin.
· So God’s Word today calls all of us to spiritual renewal. To not reject God’s provision. To not want to eat and drink what the world lives on; to not listen to the discontentment of rabble rousers, and to choose this day who you will serve—God or your own appetite to fill your empty life with sin.

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