Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:23

The Lord said to Moses, "Is the Lord's power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - God Continued...;   Hand;   Inspiration;   Moses;   Prayer;   Trouble;   Unbelief;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Desert, Journey of Israel through the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Sanhedrin;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Appoint;   Holy Spirit;   Moses;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Eldad;   Meat;   Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Hand ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elder;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Moses, the Man of God;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eldad;   Omnipotence;   Sanhedrin;   Shorten;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Bemidbar Rabbah;   Miracle;   Sanhedrin;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Is the Lord's hand waxed short? - Hast thou forgotten the miracles which I have already performed? or thinkest thou that my power is decreased? The power that is unlimited can never be diminished.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-11.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Numbers 11:23

Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?

God’s challenge to the faith and co-operation of His people

I. These words have special reference to a divinely-revealed purpose which staggers human reason.

1. Let us look at this purpose. “God hath sent His Son into the world,. . . that the world through Him might be saved.”

2. The difficulties in the way of this gracious purpose, which excite men’s fears. There is the inveterate carnality of the human heart, the stubborn resistance of the human will to the Divine; there is the stolid indifference,of great masses in Christian lands to the practical duties and claims of religion; and the growing scepticism of the day regarding the verities of the gospel. Consider also the prevalence of idolatrous systems and heathen superstitions among great masses of mankind. Take also the subtle rationalism and keen-witted infidelity which prevail in civilised and semi-Christianised countries. It requires strong faith in a man to calmly survey this formidable host of evil in the world and then take his stand by the side of Christ, confident that His cause will triumph.

II. We have in these words an assertion of divine power which warrants human confidence. God’s purpose is a promise. He stakes His character on the fulfilment of His Word.

1. He cannot forget.

2. He cannot fail through insincerity.

3. He cannot fail through inadequate power to perform.

III. In these words we have God’s challenge to the earnest faith, prayer, and co-operation of his people.

1. The true attitude of the Christian labourer or the Church is to stand, with one hand of believing prayer taking hold of God, and the other hand of loving labour taking hold of fallen man, that the fallen may be raised, and the lost saved.

2. When we are ready for a blessing, God will not fail to bestow it. (John Innocent.)

The glorious right hand of God

I. With regard to the church as a whole, how often is it true that she so behaveth herself as if she had a question in her mind as to whether the Lord’s hand had waxed short? The mass of us would be afraid to go out trusting in God to supply our needs. We should need first that everything should be prepared for us, and that the way should be paved; but we are not ready to leap as champions upon the wall of the citadel, leading the forlorn hope and planting the standard where it never stood before. No, we can follow in the track of others. We have few Careys and few Knibbs, few men who can go first and foremost saying, “This is God’s cause; Jehovah is the only God, and in the name of the Eternal let the idols be abolished.” Oh, for more anointed ones to preach the gospel believing in its intrinsic might, assured that where it is preached faithfully, the Spirit of God is never absent! O Zion! get thee up, get thee up! Count no more thy hosts, for their strength is thy weakness; measure no longer thy wealth, for thy wealth has often been thy poverty, and thy poverty thy wealth; think not of the learning or the eloquence of thy ministers and missionaries, for full often these things do but stand in the way of the Eternal God. But come thou forth in simple confidence in His promise, and thou shalt see whether He will not do according to His Word.

II. When believers doubt their God with regard to providence, the question might well be asked of them, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” I do not doubt that I am speaking to some who have had many losses and crosses in their business. Instead of getting forward they are going back, and perhaps even bankruptcy stares them in the face. Or possibly, being hard-working men, they may have been long out of employment, and nothing seems now to be before their eyes but the starvation of themselves and their little ones. It is hard to bear this. But dost thou doubt, O believer, dost thou doubt as to whether God will fulfil His promise wherein He said, “His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure”? Thy God heareth the young ravens when they cry, and giveth liberally to all the creatures that His hands hath made, and will He forget His sons and His daughters--His people bought with blood, His own peculiar heritage? No; dare to believe Him now. His hand has not waxed short. Please not Satan, and vex not thyself by indulging any more those hard thoughts of Him. Say, “My Father, Thou wilt hear my cry; Thou wilt supply all my needs”; and according to thy faith, so shall it be done unto thee.

III. There is a third way by which this question might be very naturally suggested, and that is when a man who has faith in christ is exercised with doubts and fears with regard to his own final perseverance or his own present acceptance in Christ.

IV. This is a question which I may well ask of any here present who are convinced of sin, but are afraid to trust their souls now, at this very hour, in the hand of a loving Saviour. “Oh, He cannot save me, I am so guilty, so callous! Could I repent as I ought, could I but feel as I ought, then He could save me; but I am naked and poor and miserable. How can He clothe, enrich, and bless me? I am cast out from His presence. I have grieved away His Spirit; I have sinned against light and knowledge--against mercy--against constant grace received. He cannot save me.” “And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” Did He not save the chief of sinners, Saul of Tarsus? Why, then, can He not save you? Is it not written, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanseth us from all sin”? Has that blood lost its efficacy?

V. And you say, do you, that God will not avenge your sins upon you, that ye may go on in your iniquities and yet meet with no punishment; that ye may reject Christ and do it safely. Well, soul,” thou shalt see whether His word shall come to pass or not.” But let me tell thee His hand is not waxed short; He is as strong to punish as when He bade the floods cover the earth; as powerful to avenge as when He rained hail out of heaven upon the cities of the plain. He is to-day as mighty to overtake and punish His enemies as when He sent the angel through the midst of Egypt, or afterwards smote the hosts of Sennacherib. Thou shalt see whether He will keep His word or not. Go on in the neglect of His great salvation; go to thy dying bed, and buoy thyself up with the false hope that there is no hereafter; but, sinner, thou shalt see; thou shalt see. This point in dispute shall not long be a matter of question to be cavilled at on the one side, and to be taught with tears on the other. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A strange question

It is a singular thing that such a question as this should ever be asked at all: “Has the Lord’s hand waxed short?” If we look anywhere and everywhere, apart from the conduct of man, there is nothing to suggest the suspicion.

1. Look to God’s creation! Is there anything there which would make you say, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” What pillar of the heavens hath begun to reel? What curtain of the sky hath been rent or moth-eaten? Have the foundations of the earth begun to start? Hath the sun grown dim with age? or have the starry lamps flickered or gone out in darkness? Are there signs of decay to-day upon the face of God’s creation? Have not howling tempests, the yawning ocean, and death-bearing hurricanes, asserted but yesterday their undiminished might? Say, is not the green earth as full of vitality, as ready to yield us harvests now, as it ever hath been? Do the showers fall less frequently? No; journey where you will, you will see God as potent upon the face of the earth, and in the very bowels of the globe, as He was when He first said, “Let there be light and there was light.” There is nothing which would tempt us to the surmise or the suspicion that the Lord’s hand hath waxed short.

2. And look ye too in providence; is there aught there that would suggest the question? Are not His prophecies still fulfilled? Does He not cause all things to work together for good? Do the cattle on a thousand hills low out to Him for hunger? Do you meet with the skeletons of birds that have fallen to the ground from famine? Doth He neglect to give to the fish their food, or do the sea-monsters die? Doth not God still open His hand and supply the want of every living thing? Is He less bounteous to-day than He was in the time of Adam? Is not the cornucopia still as full? Doth He not still scatter mercies with both His hands right lavishly? Are there any tokens in providence any more than in nature, that God’s arm hath waxed short?

3. And look ye too in the matter of grace; is there any token in She work of grace that God’s power is failing? Are not sinners still saved? Are not profligates still reclaimed? Are not drunkards still uplifted from their sties to sit upon the throne with princes? Is not the Word of God still quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword? Where have ye seen the sword of the Lord snapped in twain? When hath God assayed to melt a h-art and failed in the attempt? Which of His people has found the riches of His grace drained dry? Which of His children has had to mourn that the unsearchable riches of Christ had failed to supply his need? How is it, then, that such a question as this ever came from the lips of God Himself? What could there have been that should lead Him or any of His creatures to say, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” We answer, there is but one creature that God has made that ever doubts Him. The little sparrows doubt not: though they have no barn nor field, yet they sweetly sing at night as they go to their roosts, though they know not where to-morrow’s meal shall be found. The very cattle trust Him; and even in days of drought, ye have seen them when they pant for thirst, how they expect the water; how the very first token of it makes them show in their very animal frame, by some dumb language, that they felt that God would not leave them to perish. The angels never doubt Him, nor the devils either: devils believe and tremble. But it was left for man, the most favoured of all creatures, to mistrust his God. This high, this black, this infamous sin of doubting the power and faithfulness of Jehovah, was reserved for the fallen race of rebellious Adam; and we alone, out of all the beings that God has ever fashioned, dishonour Him by unbelief and tarnish His honour by mistrust. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

No failure of Tower with God

Amongst all the gods of the heathen Jupiter was in the greatest esteem, as the father and king of gods and was called Jupiter, quasi juvans pater, a helping father, yet (as the poets feign) be wept when he could not set Sarpedon at liberty; such was the imbecility and impotency of this master-god of the heathen. But the hand of our God is never shortened that it cannot help, He is ever able to relieve us, always ready to deliver us. Amongst all the gods there is none like unto Him, none can do like unto His works, He is God Omnipotent. (J. Spencer.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Numbers 11:23". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/numbers-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Lord said unto Moses,.... In answer to his objection, without upbraiding him with his sin of unbelief:

is the Lord's hand waxed short? or his power diminished since the creation, when he formed all things out of nothing, and what is it then he is not able to do? or since he wrought the wonders in Egypt, divided the Red sea, rained down manna from heaven, and smote the rock at Horeb, from whence waters flowed sufficient for all this people, and their flocks and herds; and he that did all this could give them flesh that would suffice them a whole month, see Isaiah 59:1,

thou shall see now whether my words shall come to pass unto thee or no; whether I am able to make good my promise; a short time will decide it, it shall be seen presently whether I am and will do what I have said.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is very profitable to convert this question into a prayer when we plead at any time with GOD. Isaiah 59:1.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/numbers-11.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:23 And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.

Ver. 23. And the Lord said unto Moses.] God bears with Moses here; which afterwards he did not, [Numbers 20:12] because then he showed his distrust before the people. God will not pass by the scandalous practices of his own people without a sensible check.

Is the Lord’s hand shortened.] Moses thought God had made an unadvised promise, and prays him to consider, that the people were so many thousand, and that the flocks and herds would not suffice them. But God answers here, that he is never nonplussed.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:23. Is the Lord's hand waxed short? That is to say, Is the divine power diminished?—Have I lost any thing of my power since I created the universe?

REFLECTIONS.—God answers the requests both of Moses and of the people, but with very different regards; Moses in mercy, the people in judgment.

1. Moses receives an instance of God's mercy. He does not upbraid his hastiness, but grants his petition. He is commanded to choose seventy elders, the most approved for wisdom, and God will strengthen them for their office, to bear with him the burden of the people. Note; (1.) None can reasonably conclude they are called to an office who are not qualified for it. (2.) Government is of divine institution, and we must be obedient for conscience sake, not only to the king as supreme, but unto every magistrate who bears with him the burden.

2. The people's request is gratified; better perhaps, for them, had it been denied. Gifts in anger are judgments in disguise. They shall not only have enough to satisfy, but to surfeit: Note; (1.) Evil desire and loathing are nearly allied. (2.) The indulgence of brutal appetite brings its own punishment along with it.

3. Moses expresses some distrust how this should be done for such a multitude. The strongest faith may be shaken by indulging vain reasonings; but God silences his doubts with a convincing argument. His almighty power can effect whatever his grace promises. He who divided the sea, and opened the windows of heaven, is able to give them flesh also. Let God's people be comforted in every trial, that his hand is not shortened that it cannot save; and be encouraged to pray, for his ear is not heavy that it cannot hear.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-11.html. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 151

GOD’S WORD SURE

Numbers 11:23. And the Lord said unto Moses, It the Lord’s hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee, or not.

IN reading the history of the Israelites, we cannot fail of being struck with the wonderful display of God’s patience and forbearance towards them. No displays of love and mercy on his part would satisfy them. They were always murmuring, and wishing that they had never come out of Egypt at all. It was a small matter in their eyes that they were supplied with manna from the clouds from day to day: they must have flesh to eat; and so intense was their desire after that gratification, that they actually wept before God, whole families of them, throughout the camp, saying, “Give us flesh, that we may eat [Note: ver. 10, 13, 18.].” Nor was Moses himself blameless in this matter: for though he did not in the least participate with them in their inordinate desire for meat, he questioned God’s power to give them meat: and it was this unbelief of his which brought forth from Jehovah the reproof which we have just read, and which will be the subject of our present discourse.

In this reproof we see,

I. The evil of unbelief—

It is the most common of all evils—

[It pervades the whole human race. It is found in the godly, no less than in the ungodly. Even Abraham, the father of the faithful, was by no means free from it. Repeatedly did he desire his wife to deny her relation to him as a wife, and to call herself his sister, lest persons, captivated with her beauty, should kill him for the sake of obtaining an undisturbed possession of her; thus betraying his fears, that God was either not able to protect him, or not sufficiently interested in his welfare to watch over him. And Moses, on the occasion before us, was evidently under the power of unbelief. Some, indeed, would understand his reply to God as a mere question, and a desire to be informed whether the flesh which he would give should be that of beasts or fishes: but then the answer would have corresponded with it, and would merely have informed him that it was not the flesh of beasts or of fishes that he would supply in such abundance, but the flesh of birds. But Moses’ question was evidently founded on the magnitude of the supply which God had promised. He had declared, that the whole people of Israel, not less than two millions in number, should be supplied with it, “not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but even a whole month, until it should come out at their nostrils, and be loathsome unto them [Note: ver. 19, 20.].” To that, Moses in a way of unbelief, asks, How, when the fighting men alone amounted to six hundred thousand men, should they all be so fed as “to suffice them,” (twice is that idea suggested,) and that “for the space of a whole month?” And God’s answer to him clearly shews, that it was unbelief that was here reproved: “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” Thou hast seen how easily I brought frogs and locusts upon the land of Egypt; and am I less able to supply flesh of any kind that I may see good? “You shall see now (presently) whether my word shall come to pass, or not.”

When we see persons so eminent for the grace of faith as Abraham and Moses, yet ‘giving way to unbelief, we need scarcely adduce any further proof of the universal prevalence of this evil. It exists, indeed, in very different degrees in men, being in some only occasional, whilst in others it is the entire habit of their minds: but there is not a man under the whole heavens who has not reason to mourn over the workings of this corruption, when he is brought into circumstances to call it forth. From other evils many persons may be accounted nearly free: but this works equally in men of every class, and every age.]

It is also the most specious of all evils—

[No one will avow a doubt of God’s power to effect whatsoever he shall please: his pretext will be, that he cannot conceive how God should condescend to shew such extraordinary favour to one so insignificant and worthless as himself. But God himself never puts this construction upon it: he always regards it as a denial of his perfections, and resents it in that view. We have a remarkable instance of this in Ahaz. God told him, by the prophet, to “ask a sign of him, either in the depth or in the height above.” But Ahaz, wishing to hide his unbelief, pretended that this was too great an honour for him, and that therefore he could not presume to ask any such thing: “Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” But was this construction admitted on God’s part? No: He viewed the evil as it really was, and not as it was glossed over by this self-deluded monarch; and therefore, with just indignation, he replied, by his prophet, “Hear ye now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also [Note: Isaiah 7:10-13.]?” So, whatever we may imagine, a want of entire confidence in God, whatever be the circumstances under which we are placed, will appear in its true colours before God, and be condemned by him as unbelief.]

It is, moreover, the most offensive of all evils—

[There is no grace so highly honoured of God, as faith; nor any evil so reprobated by him, as unbelief. Other evils are acts of rebellion against his authority; but this rises against every one of his perfections. It doubts his wisdom, his power, his goodness, his love, his mercy; yea, it questions even his veracity; and reduces the infinite Jehovah to a level with his own creatures; insomuch that Balaam, when checking the vain hopes of the king of Moab, could find no language more appropriate than this: “God is not a man, that he should lie; or the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good [Note: Numbers 23:19.]?” What an indignity he considers it, is plain from his very answer to Moses: “Is the hand of the Lord waxed short? Thou shalt see whether my word shall come to pass or not.” This is no slight rebuke: it is similar to that which he gave to Sarah, when she doubted whether she should ever bear to Abraham the promised child: “Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord [Note: Genesis 18:12-13.]?” How Zacharias was reproved for his unbelief in the temple, you well know [Note: Luke 1:20.]. And amongst all the provocations which the Israelites committed in the wilderness, this was the one which God laid most to heart: “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back, and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel: they remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy [Note: Psalms 78:40-42.].”]

Finally, it is the most fatal of all evils—

[Other evils, if we come to God in the exercise of faith, may be forgiven: but this evil, whilst it is yet dominant in the soul, precludes a possibility of forgiveness; because it keeps us from God, to whom we ought to come; and puts away from us that mercy which he offers to bestow. The whole adult population of Israel perished in the wilderness. What was it that prevented their entrance into Canaan? We are told, “They could not enter in because of unbelief [Note: Hebrews 3:18.].” And what is it which, under the Gospel also, is the great damning sin? it is this: “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned [Note: Mark 16:15-16.].”]

Whilst the answer of God to Moses reproves this evil, it points out to us,

II. Its proper antidote—

To prevent its ever gaining an ascendant over us, we should,

1. Reflect on God’s power as already exercised—

[Had Moses only called to mind the wonders which God had already wrought for his people, he would not have “staggered at the promise” that was now given. Nor shall we doubt the certainty of any promise whatever, if we bear in remembrance what God has already done. It is for this end that God himself refers us to all his wonders of creation, providence, and redemption. Of Creation, he speaks thus: “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding [Note: Isaiah 40:27-28.].” So, in reference to his Providence: “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man; when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke, I dry up the sea; I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering [Note: Isaiah 50:2-3.].” So also respecting Redemption, St. Paul expressly tells us that God’s particular design, in converting and saving him, was, to shew to all future generations his power to save, and to cut off all occasion for despondency from the whole world: “For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first (in me, the chief of sinners) God might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting [Note: 1 Timothy 1:16.].” It is in this view that the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is of such infinite benefit to the soul: for when we see what God has already done, it is almost impossible to doubt his power to effect whatever in his mercy he has promised to us.]

2. Reflect on his veracity, as unalterably pledged—

[When did God ever violate his engagements? His word has been pledged for many things; and has been questioned of mankind: but when did he abstain from fulfilling it? He said to our first parents in Paradise, “In the day that ye eat of the forbidden tree, ye shall die.” No, says the tempter, “Ye shall not surely die.” But whose word proved true? Satan’s? or the Lord’s? Again, to the antediluvians, God said that he would destroy by water every living creature, except what should be contained in the ark. During the building of the ark, the scoffers were lavish enough of contempt. But did God’s word fail, either in relation to those who were to be saved, or to those who were doomed to perish? The destruction of Sodom, the captivities of Israel and Judah, the sending of the Messiah, the establishment of the Redeemer’s kingdom in the world, furnished plenty of matter for doubt, before they were accomplished: but they all came to pass in their season, according to the word of God. For the captives who were restored to Judea from Babylon, it was said, “that if they would continue there, and be obedient to the king of Babylon, they should be preserved in peace and safety: but that if, through fear of the king of Babylon, they should flee to Egypt for safety, they should all perish [Note: Jeremiah 44:12-14.].” And, when they would not be persuaded to remain there, but would go to sojourn in Egypt, the Lord sent this word to them: “All the remnant of Judah that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose word shall stand, theirs or mine [Note: Jeremiah 44:26-28.].”

But, that we may depart as little as possible from our text, let us see the event of the prediction before us. God sent a wind; and brought such a number of quails, that they fell round about the tents of Israel, and filled the whole country for the space of one hundred and twenty miles in circuit, above a yard deep: so that the whole people occupied about six-and-thirty hours in collecting them; every one, even of those who gathered the least, collecting as much as eighty bushels for his own use [Note: ver. 31, 32.]. Now it was seen “whether God could fulfil his word or not.” It was seen, too, whether they had reason to repent of their inordinate desires or not: for “while the flesh was yet in their mouths, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and smote them with a very great plague [Note: ver. 33 with Psalms 78:26-31.].”

The truth is, that “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one jot or tittle of God’s word to fail [Note: Luke 16:17.].” “He cannot lies:” “he cannotlie [Note: Titus 1:2.] he cannot deny himself [Note: 2 Timothy 2:13.].” He could as soon cease to exist, as he could falsify his word in any one particular. And, if we could only bear this in remembrance, we should never give way to unbelief, or doubt the accomplishment of any thing which the Lord God hath spoken.]

Address—

1. Those who doubt the fulfilment of God’s promises—

[Who amongst us is not conscious of great defects in this particular? Who, in trying circumstances, has not found it difficult to cast all his care on God, as caring for him; and has not rather been ready to say with David, “I shall one day perish by the hands of Saul?” Who, whilst he has professed to call God his Father, has been able habitually to walk before him with the same confidence that a child places in his earthly father? Yet this is our duty: and it is a shame to us that we find the performance of it so difficult. But let us remember what a God we have to do with; how “merciful and gracious; and how abundant in goodness and truth:” and let us “never stagger at any of his promises through unbelief; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God.” And if, according to the views of sense, there be no hope, “let us against hope believe in hope;” and rest assured, that “whatever God has promised, he is both able and willing to perform.”]

Those who question the execution of his threatenings—

[Men will dissuade us from regarding, as we ought, the sacred oracles; and will venture to place their own word in opposition to God’s. Your own heart, too, will be apt to suggest, “I shall have peace, though I walk after the imagination of my own evil heart [Note: Deuteronomy 29:19-20.].” But what God said to Moses, he says to us: “Thou shalt know whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not [Note: Ezekiel 24:14.].” Go on; listen to your carnal advisers; let them tell you that there is no need to give yourselves up to God; and that you may be the servants both of God and Mammon at the same time. Go on; and take their word in preference to God’s; and wait to see “whose word shall stand, theirs or his.” But remember, that if, unhappily for you, God’s word shall take place, and that threatening be executed, there will be no room left for repentance: your state will be fixed, and that for ever. Choose ye, then, whom ye will believe, and whom ye will serve: and, if ye be truly wise, shut your ears against the assurances of an ungodly world, and say, in reference to them all, “Let God be true, and every man a liar [Note: Romans 3:4.].”

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/numbers-11.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Waxed short, i.e. less able to work such great and glorious miracles as I have done.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-11.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23.Is the Lord’s hand waxed short — The hand is the instrument, and hence the symbol, of power. To say that a person’s hand is short is, in Hebrew conception, to say that he is impotent. Among the modern Arabs and Persians a long hand denotes strength, a short hand weakness. When the idea of omnipotence as available for human necessities in answer to prayer drops out of the mind, unbelief enters. Hence Jesus says to the blind men, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” The burden of Paul’s epistles and prayers is, that believers “may know the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” Ephesians 1:19. It is of the utmost importance to all Christians, especially to all preachers, to keep the almightiness of God ever before the soul. This entire verse is a rebuke to the littleness of Moses’s faith.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Numbers 11:23. Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? — Is the divine power diminished? Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 59:1. What has not God done to convince mankind that his power is always unlimited? And yet man is still ready to fall into the weakness of thinking that there are circumstances in which the power of God cannot afford relief or deliverance, but must, as it were, remain inactive.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Unable: Hebrew, "shortened." Septuagint, "insufficient." Moses had expresed his astonishment, not his doubts; though the words might convey the latter idea to us more than his behaviour in chap. xx. 10. But God sees the heart. --- To pass. Hebrew may be also, "hath called thee;" (Calmet) Septuagint, "shall come upon thee," and execute the thing, as soon as thou shalt promise it. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Is . . . ? &c. Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

hand. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), for power exercised by it.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-11.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.
Is the Lord's
That is, "Is the power of the Lord diminished?" That power which has been so signally displayed on your behalf, and which is as unchangeable as it is unlimited.
Genesis 18:14; Psalms 78:41; Isaiah 50:2; 59:1; Micah 2:7; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37
thou shalt
23:19; 2 Kings 7:2,17-19; Jeremiah 44:28,29; Ezekiel 12:25; 24:14; Matthew 24:35
Reciprocal: Genesis 17:1 - Almighty;  Numbers 20:10 - we fetch;  1 Kings 17:6 - the ravens;  2 Kings 19:26 - of small power;  Jeremiah 14:9 - cannot;  Daniel 6:20 - able;  Zechariah 8:6 - should

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"Is the Lord"s hand waxed short?"Numbers 11:23

The question which will bring all other inquiries into right relation.—The inquiry is based on history. The history of the world is the history of the divine hand.—The question points to the fact that the Lord"s hand has hitherto always been equal to the occasion.—If the hand of the Lord could wax short the throne of God would be destroyed by that very fact.—Providence continues only so long as Godhead continues; to be God is to be Almighty; to be other than Almighty is to be less than God.—The person making the inquiry is supposed to have had personal experience of the power of the divine hand.—Let every devout man put this inquiry to himself in all the varying circumstances of life; in perplexity, in extremity, in the agony of doubt, in the experience of bereavement, and, in short, at every point in the circle of life.

To be strong theologically, that is to say, to have a clear conception of God"s presence and action in life, is to be strong morally and socially.—The inquiry certainly suggests that some circumstances wear the appearance which justifies the very solemn and awful fear.—We gain nothing by ignoring such circumstances.—The wicked are often highly exalted and invested with disastrous influence; the righteous often seem to be left to themselves, and made to feel that their godliness is the reason of their poverty or pain.—The bad man may put this inquiry in a tone of mocking and contempt, and may have some justification for his tone.—Take the case of Jesus Christ himself when he suffered upon the cross: bad men challenged God to appear on behalf of their victim, and no response was made from the darkening heavens.—From this great case of agony lessons may be drawn suitable to every form of unhappy experience.—"Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself."

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:23". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/numbers-11.html. 1885-95.