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From Eternity Past

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    Their Demands Become Rebellious

    The people in terror besought Moses to entreat the Lord for them. He did so, and the fire was quenched. But instead of leading the survivors to humiliation and repentance, this fearful judgment seemed only to increase their murmurings. In all directions the people gathered at the door of their tents, weeping and lamenting. “The mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.” Yet, notwithstanding the hardships, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes.EP 265.2

    The heart of Moses sank. In his love for them, he had prayed that his name might be blotted from the book of life rather than that they should perish, and this was their response. All their hardships, even their imaginary sufferings, they charged upon him. In his distress he was tempted even to distrust God. His prayer was almost a complaint: “Wherefore hast Thou afflicted Thy servant ... that Thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? ... they weep, ... saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.”EP 265.3

    The Lord hearkened to his prayer and directed him to summon seventy men possessing sound judgment and experience to share the responsibility with him. Their influence would assist in quelling insurrection, yet serious evils would eventually result from their promotion. They would never have been chosen had Moses manifested faith corresponding to the evidences he had witnessed of God's power and goodness. Had he relied fully upon God, the Lord would have guided him continually and given him strength for every emergency.EP 266.1

    Moses announced the appointment of the seventy elders. The great leader's charge to these chosen men might well serve as a model of judicial integrity for the judges and legislators of modern times: “Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's.” Deuteronomy 1:16, 17.EP 266.2

    “And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and ... they prophesied, and did not cease.” Like the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, they were endued with “power from on high.” It pleased the Lord to honor them in the presence of the congregation, that confidence might be established in them.EP 266.3

    A strong wind blowing from the sea now brought flocks of quails, “about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth.”EP 266.4

    All that day and night and the following day, the people labored in gathering the food miraculously provided. Immense quantities were secured. All that was not needed for present use was preserved by drying, so that the supply, as promised, was sufficient for a whole month.EP 267.1

    God gave the people that which was not for their highest good because they persisted in desiring it. But they were left to suffer the result. They feasted without restraint, and their excesses were speedily punished. “The Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” The most guilty among them were smitten as soon as they tasted the food for which they had lusted.EP 267.2

    At Hazeroth, the next encampment after leaving Taberah, a still more bitter trial awaited Moses. Aaron and Miriam had occupied a position of high honor and leadership in Israel. Both had been associated with Moses in the deliverance of the Hebrews. Richly endowed with gifts of poetry and music, Miriam had led the women of Israel in song and dance on the shore of the Red Sea. In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron.EP 267.3

    But in the appointment of the seventy elders, Miriam and Aaron had not been consulted, and their jealousy was excited against Moses. They felt that their position and authority had been ignored. They regarded themselves as sharing equally with him the burden of leadership and regarded the appointment of further assistants as uncalled for.EP 267.4

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