|Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted.” — Numbers 11:4-5
Foreign travel can be a challenge. The food is often below par, the accommodations can leave much to be desired, the travel arrangements are usually haywire, and there is no air conditioning. A sure and certain recipe for complaints!
As the children of Israel set out on their foreign travel, they certainly complained. The novelty and excitement of being delivered from slavery in Egypt began to wear off once they embarked on their second year of freedom. The wilderness was no easy place to live even when they were settled in camp, but it only took three days on the march before the people began to complain to the Lord about their hardships. Some of the “foreign rabble” in the party became quite outspoken about their preference for Egyptian cuisine, and the Israelites joined in complaining about their steady diet of manna. I suspect many of us who are used to our comfortable lifestyle would have joined in the complaining of the wilderness travelers!
We may be surprised at how severely God responded to his people’s complaints, but we must remember that God had a grand plan for his people. This plan included redeeming them from Egypt (which he had miraculously accomplished), supporting tens of thousands of people in an inhospitable wilderness, taking them into the Promised Land, and enabling them to overthrow the resident population. For this plan to be accomplished, the Lord required his people’s unwavering obedience and unfaltering trust. He was, and is, looking for those who would cooperate rather than complain, who would count their blessings rather than chorus their gripes. But neither was forthcoming from them. While God was focusing on the monumental issues, God’s people were whining about dining.
In the long run, the wisest policy is to get on board with what God is doing, whether or not it makes us comfortable. The best way to get on board with him is to trust that he knows what he is doing, to obey what he tells us to do, and to have a thankful attitude for everything he has given us. If we don’t, he might become angry with such ungrateful, uncooperative children. He might give us what we want, and then we may discover we don’t want it. If we do get on board with God, we will arrive in the Promised Land, and that’s better than leeks, onions, and garlic.
For further study: Numbers 11:1-15
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.