The Mixed Multitude
Numbers 11:4
And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said…

If Israel, according to its calling, be regarded as a type of the new man, then this "mixed multitude," a remnant of Egypt, and influenced still by its spirit, will be a type of the old man in the believer But we may take another view of Israel, and say that it is typical of those who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit — the true members of Christ's body, the living branches of the true vine; and then, corresponding with this, the " mixed multitude" will be a type of those who accompany the true Israel now, without being partakers of the Divine nature, and walking in the Spirit — the dead branches in the vine. History shows that the Church on earth has ever been made up of these two elements; and prophetic parables show that such will be its constitution until Jesus comes. The Word of God everywhere encourages the living members of Christ's body, by patience, and gentleness, and unwearied zeal, to win those who have only a name to live. But it forbids them to take into their own hands the awful work of separation between the wheat and the tares, a work which the Searcher of hearts reserves to Himself alone. So that it need cause us no surprise, as it did the Donatists of old, and still does to some, that there is, and always will be, a "mixed multitude" associated with the true Israel. But though we are absolutely forbidden to cast out the element from the Church, this passage of Scripture may well impress us with the danger arising from it, and show how watchful we ought to be. Even if the Church were made up of true Christians only, there would be much evil in it, for the simple reason that there is so much sin in every heart. Many temptations may come to you even from those who are really Christ's, and who are engaged, through grace, in crucifying the affections and lusts of the flesh; but others will come to you, as they did to Israel of old, from the "mixed multitude"; and what dangers in particular? Party spirit, we cannot fail to see, is one; but, oh, there is a greater and more subtle danger still — worldliness, conformity to the course of this world; and with it, forgetfulness of the high and holy calling wherewith we are called, and the adoption of a low standard of holiness. Our only safety is to set the perfect example of our Lord Jesus Christ before us; to ask ourselves again and again throughout the day, "How would Christ act if He were in my place?" to crucify through the Spirit the root of worldliness within, and to watch all the avenues by which it can enter the heart from without. Only in this way can our own standard be elevated; only in this way avoid Israel's sin, that of being carried away by the worldly spirit which originated in the "mixed multitude" which sojourned with them.

(G. Wagner.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the mixt 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?

WEB: The mixed multitude that was among them lusted exceedingly: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, "Who will give us flesh to eat?

The Complainers, and How God Made Answer to Their Complaints
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