After Israel erected the tabernacle, the presence of God returned to the camp. In all of Israel’s journeys the movement of the cloud determined the movement of the people. When the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the people packed their tents and followed. The people pitched their tents when the cloud stopped. As long as the cloud remained on the tabernacle the people rested. It did not matter if it was two days, a month or a year. The people did not continue their journey unless the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle.
Now I have a question about these travel arrangements. What was the Lord doing when he moved the cloud from one place to another?
SEARCHING FOR REST
And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days journey and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day when they went out of the camp. And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel. Numbers 10:33-36
When the cloud lifted from the tabernacle the Lord was looking for a resting place for his people. Moses recognized that enemies needed to be dealt with as they moved from one place to another. But did you notice that it was not Moses hateful enemies that he asked the Lord to deal with. Moses asked the Lord to scatter “thine enemies” and make those that “hate thee flee before thee.” When the cloud stopped and the people set up camp, Moses asked the Lord to return to the many thousands of Israel. Return from where? Return from doing what?
One of the most familiar Psalms of the Bible reveals that the Lord is our shepherd and he leads us to places of rest. We are strangers and foreigners in a hostile world and therefore apt to find ourselves in places where we cannot rest. But we don’t have to find a place to rest because we have a good shepherd that will find a resting place for us. All we have to do is follow him. Following is a problem when we don’t understand his ways and get lost and wounded along the way.
It is not our enemies that lead us astray as we struggle to follow the Lord. God’s enemies hate him so vehemently they would do anything to stop God from having a loving family. For God’s people to have rest the Lord must scatter his enemies and make them that hate him flee. It is the Lord’s enemies that overwhelm us with problems we can’t handle. When they do if we act wisely the Lord will arise on our behalf to scatter his hateful enemies because only the Lord can deal with his enemies successfully.
Knowing who the enemy is would calm church unrest, which eventually blossoms into open rebellion. Knowing how to deal with the enemy would stop rebellion before it becomes a thought. At this point you may be thinking the Bible tells us to put on the amour of God so we can fight the enemy. Now you are telling me I can’t win even if I know who the enemy is. No, I’m telling you that if you know how to fight, you can win the battle and not even break a sweat in the process. God does not expect us to fight his enemies who are greater in power and might than we are.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (The NIV says in the heavenly realms) Ephesians 6:11-12 KJV
We are admonished to put on the whole armor of God that we may STAND, or as James told us, RESIST the devil and he will flee. He will not flee from you unless you are wearing God’s armor. You will not win a fight with the devil, because he has been doing this longer than you have been alive. THE COMMON PRACTICE AMONG CHRISTIANS OF REBUKING THE DEVIL IS CONTRARY TO THE BIBLES TEACHINGS. We pollute ourselves when we reject authority and slander celestial beings. “[E] ven the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Jude 8-9. GOD ALONE HAS THE AUTHORTY TO REBUKE THE DEVIL.
If we don’t have to fight the devil, who are we wrestling with? We are wrestling to stay out of the battle. When we are being abused and falsely accused it is difficult to stand there and take it. Especially when the abusers are people we are commanded to submit to. The only way to endure that kind of abuse without retaliating in an effort to vindicate yourself is to put on the armor of God and wait for God to vindicate you. The purpose of God’s armor is to give us the strength to stand without fighting. It is the only way to truly win a spiritual battle.
In context, putting on the armor of God is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts about submitting to authority. Wives must submit to their husbands, children must obey their parents and servants must be obedient to their masters, or more applicable to our day employees must be obedient to their employers. We could also say sheep must obey their shepherds.
Interwoven in this discourse Paul warns authorities to treat those that must submit to them with love and respect. Husbands must love their wives, parents should not provoke their children to anger and masters, employers or shepherds must not use threats to manipulate and control.
Paul summed up his discourse on submission by pointing out that whether you are being submitted to or doing the submitting, we all have a Master in heaven and with him there is no respect of persons. Then Paul told us how to successfully submit to abusive authorities, put on the armor of God. Jesus was able to endure the abusive treatment he received from the authorities in the church of his day, who falsely accused him and then had him crucified, because he knew how to put on the armor of God. He did not wrestle with flesh and blood to vindicate himself. He waited for God to vindicate him.
It does not matter how much authority God has delegated to an individual, if they abuse their power and privilege, God will judge them and decree just consequences. A good example is King David. Even though he was a man after God’s own heart, when David abused those under his authority he suffered severe consequences. In addition to the mayhem that took place among his own children that drove him from the throne for a season, the sword never departed from his house. David lived another 20 years after God judged him. Never is severe! On the other end of that spectrum, those who rebelled against flesh and blood authorities also suffered severe consequences, which we shall examine throughout the last part of this book.
There is a bigger picture than we can presently see. Our true enemies are unseen just like our God is unseen. If we are wrestling with flesh and blood authorities whether they are you husband, parents, employers or ministers in government, church or state, we are puppets of the unseen enemies who hate the Lord. The source of misery in the lives of God’s people and the rebellions that followed in the desert can be traced back to flesh and blood authorities who were not doing the will of God. Some authorities failed to obey God through stubbornness like Pharaoh, some through immature foolishness like Aaron, and some through ignorance like Moses.
Paul advised Timothy in dealing with authorities like Hymenaeus and Philetus, who were preaching false doctrine and overthrowing the faith of some, to be gentle, patient and meekly give instruction in hopeful expectation that God would grant people like Hymenaeus and Philetus repentance to acknowledge the truth and in so doing men or women who spread error about the Lord would escape the snare of the devil who had taken them captive to do his will.
Corrupt flesh and blood authorities make our lives a misery because they are blind men or women trying to do good deeds and their intent to do good only blinded them even more. They think they are doing the will of God when they are really nothing more than pawns of the devil. If that revelation comes to them with anything less than great gentleness and kindness it has the potential to devastate them. If we fight with them it only drives them further and deeper into the delusion that they are doing the will of God. If not dealt with carefully, they will be pushed into a stubborn place that obligates God to judge them when they refuse to obey him. They know little more about God than Israel did: God is real and God delivered me. Yet they think they are experts on God. When the truth comes to light, that they are not the experts they thought they were and they realize the damage they caused in the church, if they are not in an environment of love it can destroy them. They lack the strength of character to believe God still loves and will vindicate them. If the religious leaders that told Jesus disciples to stop preaching had listen to their message, they would learned that God turned the evil they did into something good.
When erring leaders are set free, it frees everyone suffering under their authority. A good example was Saul. He studied the word of God all his life under one of the greatest teachers of his day and became a Pharisee of the Pharisees. After Stephen was murdered with Saul’s approval, Saul led a great persecution against the church. When Jesus appeared to him and freed him from the blindness he was walking in,
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. Acts 9:31, KJV
If the disciples had fought with Saul instead of letting the Lord fight this battle, they would have destroyed each other. Everyone would have lost. When we do it the Lord’s way everyone wins. Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and turned him into a friend. Saul preached the gospel at Damascus and Jerusalem before he returned to his hometown of Tarsus and then no one saw him again for ten years. The churches had rest, the Holy Ghost comforted the people and the churches grew in number. Instead of Saul being destroyed to spend an eternity in Hell, he became a great Apostle who wrote most of the New Testament and used his new authority to collect money for the poor saints in Jerusalem that were impoverished by the persecution he started. God’s solution to a problem is always better than anything we could imagine.
Our fight is not with powers who abuse their delegated authority but with the spiritual authorities that took them captive to do the devil’s will. Rebellious angels are still in places of authority in one or more of the three heavens the Bible speaks of. I don’t know which heaven they reside in and will not speculate. I do know this. A day will come that God will strip them of their power. These rebellious angles are rulers of darkness that blind the minds of men and women seeking to worship the Lord. We call them devils.
The writer of Hebrews makes an interesting comment about things subject to Jesus. It is an important point that will unravel a lot of scripture if you can receive it. Speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews declares,
You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.” In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Heb 2:7-8 NIV
Hebrews was written after Jesus said “all power in heaven and earth has been give to me” and then ascended to heaven in the presence of his disciples. Yet the writer of Hebrews declares “at present we do not see everything subject to him!” The book of Revelation tells us, in a vague way, when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. Revelation 11:15 KJV
The majority of Christians would agree that the things written in the book of Revelation have not happened yet. The “god of this world” blinds the minds of unbelievers lest the light of the gospel shine upon them. If Jesus is presently the god of this world, why is he blinding the minds of unbelievers lest the light of the gospel shine upon them? IF people understood this, anger for the suffering in this world would not be vented toward the Authority that created us but toward the rebellious authorities who enslaved us through deception and lies.
Yes, it is true, God gave Jesus everything, all power in heaven and earth, but Jesus chose to wait for the fullness of the Gentiles to come in  before he takes possession of everything that he has a right to. Selfish people demand their rights. Jesus is not selfish. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us until we are mature enough to understand what a priceless treasure he is. When he stands up to possess everything that he earned by sacrificial love there will be great voices spreading the word that Jesus’ time has come. Great voices will speak some with great joy and others with great distress that Jesus time to rule and reign over all the kingdoms of this world has come.
Once the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, he will clean house in heaven and on earth. That could be why great voices are spreading the word. A war is about to erupt in heaven.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:7-10
This war has not taken place yet and it is one reason Moses had to ask the Lord to scatter his enemies. God’s enemies are the same enemies that we wrestle with when we become God’s people and no longer walk according to the course of this world that rebel against authority.
God’s people must submit to authority, even abusive and harsh authorities, because all authority comes from God. BUT don’t take this to the ungodly extreme that in the name of submission you must sin against God. There are times you are within your rights to disobey delegated authority. When God commanded the apostles to teach, the delegated authorities of the temple demanded them to stop. The apostles ignored their objections saying, “it is better to obey God than man.” The rebellious authorities needed to hear the Apostles message. Their wicked acts fulfilled the will of God and if they repented, they could be saved to.
If someone you are obligated to submit to abuses their God given authority, you have the same recourse David had when Saul abused him. David did not rise up in rebellion against Saul, but neither did he stick his tail between his legs and take whatever Saul dished out. David fought back with weapons that are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds.
May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you. …… May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” 1 Sam 24:12-13, 15
The first time David spared Saul’s life, David called upon God to judge and avenge the wrongs that had been committed. Then David acted wisely by refusing to wrong Saul. God will judge if we ask him to but he judges everyone. He can’t vindicate you if you act like the one who abused you.
We wrestle to stand or to wait without complaining while God deals with powers, seen and unseen. Our battle is to stay out of the battle by keeping our mouth shut and refusing to rebel against the authorities that wronged or hurt us in some way. Most of the time the seen authorities are blind to the hurt they created and if that blindfold is not taken off carefully it will destroy them. Most of them are not acting maliciously. In their hearts, they wanted to do good things for God.
On the other side of that coin, the one you think has wronged you may have done nothing wrong. Your judgment of events may be clouded by immaturity and or previous hurtful experiences. We need to stop judging what is going on and let God fight the battle for us. He is the only one that has all the facts and can see clearly.
Our battle is to refrain from complaining and attempting to justify ourselves while God deals with his hateful enemies, seen and unseen, that bring accusations against the people he is bringing to salvation. Don’t act like the devil or you will fall under the same judgment he is under. God permits some of the suffering we endure in this life because justice demands it and the accuser of the brethren is watching God like a hawk.
The devil is not worried about taking us down. Humanity is nothing but a pawn he uses in an effort to take God down. If God treated the least of us unjustly in even the smallest matter the devil will win. The only way to take God down is provoke him to sin for if God broke the law once he would no longer be the one and only God! He would just be another one of the sinners who fall short of the glory of Law.
God allows us to suffer under corrupt authorities for the same reason he allowed Jesus to suffer under corrupt authorities.
Suffering under corrupt authorities teaches us to obey incorruptible authorities. Jesus suffered at the hands of authorities that thought they were doing the will of God. Those painful experiences taught the humanity in Jesus, because he is both fully God and fully man, how to submit to God. Jesus had the same carnal nature in him that we have in us, but he never sinned by yielding to that nature.
Martin Luther thought he was serving the Pope when he spoke out against the priests that were selling indulgences. Luther’s submission to the Pope revealed to Luther that he was not submitting to God. When Luther visited Rome and saw the corruption in the church, he chose to submit to the Godly authority in the written scripture and refused to recant his teachings unless the authorities in the church could prove by scripture that he was wrong.
If we follow the Lord and stand on the authority of his word without doing wrong by committing the same wrongs committed against us, we can pray like Moses prayed; Arise Lord, scattered your hateful enemies. Judge between us and whom ever hurt us. The Lord will do what is right by both of you. If you don’t believe he will do it because he loves you, then believe he will do what is right because he can’t afford not to, it would give the devil place. The Lord will fight our battles for us and then let his presence dwell among us while we wait for all that he has promised us to be fulfilled. Whether you survive painful discipline or not depends on what the Lord hears when he returns from a hard day of fighting your battles.
WAIT WITHOUT COMPLAINT
1 And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord and the Lord heard it and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. Numbers 11:1 KJV
The NIV says the people complained about their hardships. Other versions say they complained about adversity, trouble, or misfortune. What hardship? What adversity? What trouble? What misfortune did they complain about? They had only be been saved for about a year. How much hardship could they have encountered.
They had only been traveling three days since they left Sinai. God’s presence was no longer in the fire they feared on the top of the mountain, nor was his presence afar off outside the camp. His presence was among them in the center of the camp. They had bread every morning without fail. All they had to do was get out of bed to collect it. They were camped by the river God produced when he settled on the mountain, so there was plenty of water stored for the trip. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out the entire time they were in the desert. They had everything that they needed, so what hardship, trouble, and adversity did they complained about?
We would fare much better in life if we would heed Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” God’s people do not have what he promised to Abraham and his seed but they do have every reason to be content. Even though God’s people had every reason to be content they were complaining about their troubles.
I can only think of two events since they left the Red Sea that could be called a hardship: the attack of Amalek on the feeble, and the death of 3,000 who worshipped the cow. But the attack of Amalek was their own way come upon them. They were going to kill Moses, an old man too feeble to hold his hands up long enough for them to win a war, but how terrible when it happened to them. Even though they deserved the attack God helped them win the war against Amalek. Then God swore to destroy even the memory of Amalek. The 3,000 that died among them did not have to. When Moses asked who was on the Lord’s side all they had to do was stand by Moses and repent like Aaron who led them into error did. Moses would have prayed for them like he prayed for Aaron and they would have been spared like Aaron was spared. If you will follow a man in doing wrong but not follow him in doing right there is something seriously wrong with you. The only adversity and hardship that had come upon the church in the desert is the adversity and hardship they brought upon themselves with their own evil ways.
God spent all day scattering his enemies and running off those who hate him for what? To return to the many thousands of Israel so he can hear griping and complaining for maintaining justice among his people. God is the one who has no rest. In heaven the devil and his angels bring him a never-ending flow of accusations against humanity. On earth humanity has a never-ending flow of complaints about God’s way of doing things. God fought and won the battle against Pharaoh, a rebellious authority that refused to obey the God who gave him authority, so his people can have some rest and even greater than that have a real God’s presence dwelling among them. Yet all they want to do is go back to Egypt and carry mud while the Egyptians carry straw. Is it any wonder that God was not pleased?
Neither is it a surprise that some of them were consumed along the way. God told Moses this would happen before they left Sinai. God planned to send an angel to lead them the rest of the way but Moses talked God out of it because the only thing that made them different from others was God’s presence among them. God consented to remain among them. He is easy to be entreated but God is always right in his judgments. They were just barely out of Sinai when they made God so angry complaining about justice, he consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. If you are going to survive the desert it is better to be near God than it is to be far for the psalmist declared,
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God…Psalm 73:27-28, NIV
By his own admission God is a jealous God! He started consuming those who were farthest from him first. If Moses intercession can quench the fire of God’s jealously to spare the people when they complained about their God, how much more can Jesus do for us when God hears us complaining about our hardships; most of which we have brought upon ourselves by our own evil ways. God, in his great wisdom, gives corrupt authorities to corrupt people for as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another. Hence the fallacy of rebellion instead of repentance and the wisdom of waiting to possess all that you have a right to until the iron you rule with is sharp.
Revelation 19:15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
 2 Timothy 2:14-26
 2 Corinthians 4:4
 Romans 11:25, the NIV says for the full number of gentiles to come in.
 Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-21
 1 Samuel 24:12-15
 NT:5218 hupakoe (hoop-ak-o-ay’); from NT:5219; attentive hearkening, i.e. (by implication) compliance or submission:
 NT:3958 pascho (pas’-kho); including the forms (patho (path’-o) and pentho (pen’-tho)), used only in certain tenses for it; apparently a primary verb; to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful):
 Deut 29:5
 1 Timothy 6:8
 See Surviving the Desert #06 A Shadow of Love by Teena Myers
 Exodus 33:2-3
 Proverbs 27:17