The Book of Numbers – When Impatience Leads

Numbers 21 begins with God’s display of power to defend his people. When the King of Arad hears that the Israelites were going to Canaan, he attacks them and takes some of them captive. The Israelites take this to God and make a vow “If you deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.” (verse 2) The Lord heeds to their plea and grants them victory.

Surrendering your Battles

When the Israelites were in distress, rather than complain or take matters into their own hands, they turned to God. In making their vow to destroy the cities, it also required a surrender of their wants as they could not keep any of Canaan’s possessions for themselves, that was quite something especially considering that they were still wandering in the wilderness. They honoured God with their obedience by going to Him, surrendered to Him and trusted God to hand them victory. The Israelites were rewarded with God’s favour upon them, they defeated the Canaanites and God was glorified.

For us: God desires for us to cultivate a heart of obedience too that turns to Him as our first option, not when we have exhausted every other avenue. God desires for us to surrender our battles trusting the how and when to Him.

The Israelites then travel around Edom. We learnt in the previous chapter that the Edomites were hostile towards the Israelites and would not let them pass through. And so, Moses leads them around Edom as God had forbidden the Israelites to take even a foothold in Edom (Deut 2:4-6).

When God takes you through a different route

The people fresh from their victory against the Canaanites, feeling confident in themselves grow impatient with Moses and with the direction that the Lord was taking them. They revert to their old tendencies of complaining. They seem to have forgotten that the victory they just experienced was possible only because of the Lord.

For us: We can marvel at how easily the Israelites can swing between turning to God for help and soon after grow frustrated with God’s direction. But how often do we slip up in trusting in His timing and direction. How easily do we grumble about things in our life?

When the Israelites had to face the Canaanites, although they surrendered to God, their desire was to fight and gain victory over them and with God’s yes to go ahead, we understand that it was according to the will of God. But when it came to the Edomites, God did not want them to engage in a fight with them or pass through Edom, but it seemed that the people thought differently, and they got impatient.

I want us to pause and reflect on how we react when we want to do things differently from what God intends for us. It is harder to be patient, obey and trust when our wants does not align with God’s will. But that is where the test of our trust and obedience to Him comes to the surface. 

Impatience and Unbelief

The people’s impatience led them to speak against God and his appointed leader Moses and they despise the manna that God had been providing “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” (verse 5)

John Piper writes ‘Impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of his guidance. It springs up in our hearts when the road to success gets muddy, or strewn with boulders, or blocked by some fallen tree. The battle with impatience can be a little skirmish over a long wait in a checkout lane. Or it can be a major combat over a handicap, or disease, or circumstance that knocks out half your dreams. The opposite of impatience is not a glib, superficial denial of frustration. The opposite of impatience is a deepening, ripening, peaceful willingness either to wait for God where you are in the place of obedience, or to persevere at the pace he allows on the road of obedience — to wait in his place, or to go at his pace.’

The people’s impatience led them to spurn God’s grace and provision. We have to recognise that impatience can lead to grumbling. Pouring our frustration and complaints to God is perfectly fine but grumbling against God is wrong. As Proverbs 14:29 reminds us “Patience leads to abundant understanding, but impatience leads to stupid mistakes.”

Fighting against Impatience

Psalm 130:5 says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, in His word I hope.” The psalmist reminds us that it is God’s word that spurs us to persevere when we have to wait patiently on God, His word reminds us to trust in His promises, His character and His faithfulness. When the enemy whispers doubt in our mind, God’s word is our weapon against it.

A deeper work within

Because of the people’s disobedience, the Lord sends venomous snakes among them and many die. The people realise their sin and approach Moses saying “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” (verse 7)

Moses prays and God says, “Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (verse 8)

God responds to the people’s plea, but his response was not exactly what they asked for. The snakes were not removed, but God provided a way for them not to die if they got bitten. The people realised their sin, but change in one’s heart takes time, and it looks like God was working in theirs.

With God’s way of answering their prayer:

  • They would not easily forget what led them to be in such a situation.
  • There was a constant awareness of who they had to depend on – God alone.
  • Where their rescue comes from – from God alone.
  • To look at the bronze snake once bitten – they had to believe and trust God for their healing.

They had to exercise their faith and trust in God from their hearts, it was not through Moses, they had to look to God and believe on their own. Moses or anyone else could not be their spiritual crutch. God was indeed doing a work in them to deepen their faith and trust in Him.

God is working in us too; he desires to take us deeper in our walk with Him. Yes, we stumble, we sin but God in his graciousness does not leave us where we are at. He is a wonder working God and is changing us from within. He is our potter, and we are his clay. Shape us Lord and mould us as you see fit.

God Bless.

20 thoughts on “The Book of Numbers – When Impatience Leads

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  1. So many good points here. This post really spoke to me, because I am currently in a season where these lessons hit home. I appreciate the gentle reminders to trust and wait, without grumbling along the way. When life is stressful, it can be easy to forget because we are focused on our stressors and not on God. Keeping our focus on Him, in trust, is important. One obstacle I have found too is the other people around me who add to the pressures and the complaining. I have told God on occasion that if I just had to worry about me, I feel like my faith would be stronger. But the Israelites were in the same boat. They had people around them who might be quick to complain and this could negatively influence their attitude. Each person has to choose for themselves and not allow others to sway them off course. Thank you, Manu. Your posts are a blessing to me and help me to reflect on my own walk. God bless! 🦋🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When life is stressful we do tend to forget and try and sort things out. I agree that hearing others complain or grumble has a negative effective. Your point reminds me of how important it is to surround ourselves with those who are strong in faith. Choosing for ourselves and not allowing to be swayed by others- I like that. Easier said than done but in God’s strength we can.
      So glad this post spoke to you.
      Blessings my friend. Have a good weekend 💙💐

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post also spoke to me today, especially this: “When the enemy whispers doubt in our mind, God’s word is our weapon against it.” I am scheduling this as a Quote of the Week on March 14, 2023. I pray it speaks to others as it did to me. Blessings, Manu!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So many good nuggets of truth tucked in here, Manu and valuable life lessons to grow from.
    I’m gonna open up my blogger’s notebook and jot down some notes from this post. I love the points you made about God’s “way” of answering the Israelites grumbling..not what they might have expected but instead GOD’S WAY! I need to remember (over my own prayers or grumbling) that His plans are perfect along with His ways!! Not my plan or my way—But His!!🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Alicia. God’s way of answering prayers are not always something we might have asked for but His way considers so much more than we could imagine and is best, even if we do not understand it.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. He does indeed see the big picture. We do not understand it always but knowing that, I hope it helps us trust when we struggle to comprehend what is doing. Thank you 😊


  4. This was a really good lesson here, Manu. We can learn a thing or two from those Israelites who resemble us way too often.
    Having patience is so hard sometimes. I love what you said, “ God desires for us to surrender our battles trusting the how and when to Him.” So hard, but yet so simple, because that’s faith in action. Blessing today and have a great weekend! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great lesson on the importance of patience. Impatience can easily creep in. This reminds me to examine my heart and ask myself, Am I trusting God when I start to grumble?” Patience allows us to take time to seek the Lord and look around at the lessons he is trying to teach us during our times of waiting. I think the Lord has definitely been teaching me about patience over the last year. I always considered myself to be a patient person but when he opened my eyes to my lack of patience, I could see I still needed growth in that area. Thank you Manu. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dawn. Last year was a learning curve for me when it came to grumbling. I realised I do it more than I was aware. It was a humbling realisation. And I realise the parallel in me learning about the Israelites grumbling and God shining a light on how much I tend to do it too when things don’t go as I expect. I need growth in that area and am working on it.
      Have a good weekend 💙💐

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Patience is something most of us struggle with. With faith, we can persevere, trusting in God’s promises; and striving to listen and be obedient. Thanks for the reminder, Manu. 💗🦋🌺

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey lady Manu. I experienced a test on the weekend and the major things that I needed to do was to. surrender my battles. Your devotion is both encouraging and confirming that when God fights we win every time. He is a wonder working God and when he speaks we know that he has it all in control. As long as we listen and obey, he is working things out for our good. Bless you my dear. 🙏🏾💗❤️💖

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I never thought about what an act of surrendered obedience it was for the Israelites to destroy everything of their enemies considering they were still wandering in the wilderness and probably were very aware of their dependence on God for their needs. Some friends and I have been doing a Bible study on Elijah, and it reminds me of something that was stated in the study about how, when Elijah played it wouldn’t rain, he was praying for something that would also agent him negatively. He would also become so much more aware of his need for God’s providence. These thoughts are things I want to tuck away in my mind when I see how much God asks me to sacrifice in obedience. The one who, at times asks us to deny things is also the one who is able to provide, and it’s really good to see examples of thos in the Scripture for our faith to be strengthened as a result. Blessings, Manu!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It must be really interesting to study Elijah. I always love to do some group study. It truly help build us and keep us accountable when we do things together like that.
      Thank you Colleen and I hope you are keeping well.

      Liked by 1 person

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