I like to think of myself as a grateful person, but I realize I’m more like the people in this story than I want to be.
That’s how long the people of Israel traveled before they complained.
The first part of Numbers is about censuses, assignments of duties, march formations and camp set up. But by the end of chapter 10, the people of Israel are on the move. Verses 33 & 34 say, “So they set out from the mountain………..the cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.”
After almost a full year at Mount Sinai the people of Israel began their journey to the Promised Land. Three days in “and the people complained….” But the complaining turned into something worse.
“The rabble with them began to crave other food and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat. We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost-also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetites; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6
The people did the same thing three days into the trek from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai (Exodus 15). They complained about water.
After they saw the Red Sea parted and walked to the other side on dry land…….they complained about water. This time, they grumbled about food. The bread of heaven ceased to satisfy. It wasn’t good enough. And with each complaint the people romanticized their time in Egypt.
We do the same. We may not say it out loud, but we grumble in our hearts. The business we prayed for finally happens, and as soon as it’s more challenging than expected, we dream of the easy days before it started. The promotion we wanted demands more conflict resolution skills than we care for, and we want to give up. We pray for good friends, then distance ourselves when the relationships require more give than take.
Like the people of Israel, we want the Promised Land but not the difficult journey. We want the privileges without the responsibility, the transformation without the work, the patience without the perseverance, and the faith without the fight. We want all the good stuff without any of the hard stuff.
Like the people of Israel, we forget. We forget the miracles, the healing, and the promises kept. We choose not to remember how it really was in Egypt.
We would never say it, but we ignore God’s Presence, doubt His promises, and despise His provision.
And like the people of Israel, sometimes God gives us exactly what we think we want.
For the rest of this story read Numbers 11.