MANNA VS. MEAT
Teach me to rejoice in You, God, my Savior.
Read Numbers 11:1–15
Fire From the Lord
11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
Quail From the Lord
4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.
10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat are you unhappy about today?
The people grumble twice in this passage. They grumble first at Taberah (1–3). This short story sets the pattern: people sin, God judges, Moses intercedes, God has mercy. They grumble again from verse 4, and it sounds very familiar! Just after leaving Egypt, in Exodus 16, they grumbled because they had no food. Now they’re grumbling because the food God gave them was boring! It couldn’t compare to their nostalgic memory of the 5-star food they’d enjoyed in Egypt (5).
A complaining, self-pitying spirit distorts everything. It distorts what God has done in the past: the people forgot that God had saved them from slavery and harsh labor and death. Their memory of the good food in Egypt was faulty. It distorts what God has given in the present: the manna was not unattractive, it was free, it could be cooked in a variety of ways, and it was tasty (7–9). It distorts what God is doing in the future: God in his goodness was leading them to a land flowing with milk and honey.
We don’t think of grumbling as a #1 sin. But grumbling makes God out to be stingy and evil. And it’s contagious. It spreads throughout the camp and even infects Moses. His complaint (11–15) is also very me-centered. He despairs that the people are impossible and God left him holding the baby (12).
Whatever you’re facing today, how can you give thanks to God in it?
Choose to praise God today, no matter how you feel.