I despise _____. We all can probably fill in that blank with at least one word. Some of us could probably give several examples. I’m pretty sure everyone in the Northeast would say they despise WINTER right about now. Can I get an AMEN? Longest. Winter. EVER! Bring on spring, right? So, what do leeks, onions, garlic and God have to do with despising?
I despise _____. We all can probably fill in that blank with at least one word. Some of us could probably give several examples. I’m pretty sure everyone in the Northeast would say they despise WINTER right about now. Can I get an AMEN? Longest. Winter. EVER! Bring on spring, right?
And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6)
In our last post, Is My Arm Too Short?, we looked at this same section of scripture in Numbers 11 and received encouragement from it. God is able to do anything He promised. We don’t have to figure it out. We just have to trust Him and watch Him work. He is so amazing.
But the more I read this chapter, the sadder it made me. Here they are in the wilderness, away from the captivity and slavery and harsh treatment they received in Egypt. They were free. No more brick making. No more beatings. They were on their way to the precious Promised Land. The land that was flowing with milk and honey. The land that was FAR BETTER than slavery in Egypt.
They were being fed daily directly from the hand of God with manna. MANNA. The food that miraculously appeared every morning just for them. The bread from heaven. The food that fully satisfied and tasted like pastries. The food that no one else in the entire existence of mankind had EVER tasted. It was something God prepared and created just for them.
Not only that, but they were surrounded day and night by the presence of God. Over and over in the book of Numbers it talks about the glorious presence of the Lord. The presence of God was always with them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
What an amazing and glorious time. They should have been walking around continuously in awe of their God and giving Him praise, right? But, that’s not exactly what happened.
They just kept looking back….they despised the bread from heaven. They despised the freedom from Egypt and wanted to go back. Why? Their flesh wanted onions and garlic and leeks and meat. They were ready to turn in the promise of God and the manifest presence of God for temporary satisfaction of the flesh. Yuck!
For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” (Numbers 11:20)
They weren’t just saying they wanted different food. They had seen so many miracles. They could have asked Him for different food and He would surely have provided it. They discounted the provision of God. They devalued the miracles of God and the presence of God. They were rejecting God.
That word reject also means to despise, to abhor, and to cast away. They were casting away God because the flesh wanted something more. They despised God. Ouch! We would likely say we don’t do that, but don’t we?
No way, right? We hate spiders and snakes and winter, but we would never despise God’s presence. But….do we ever compromise our heart with something we watch on TV? With a joke we laugh at with the guys at work? We read a novel in 3 days but haven’t touched the Bible more than 10 minutes in 3 weeks?
The thing about it was their time in the wilderness was temporary. They were going to again have leeks and onions and garlic and all those things they were willing to trade the presence of God for. All they had to do was wait. And they could enjoy the presence of God while they waited. But they didn’t want to wait.
So, I asked myself…what am I waiting for…and complaining about? Usually, when we complain, we focus on what the flesh wants but doesn’t have, and we can tend to miss what’s right in front of us….like the Israelites missing the presence and provision of God.
I love how Moses never joined in with their complaining. He always turned their complaint into a prayer. He always took it to the Lord.
Complaining doesn’t do anything but magnify a bad attitude. But when we turn our complaint into a prayer, He can work a mighty deliverance on our behalf, and He gives us grace to wait and opens our eyes to see what’s right in front of us. Him.