Dear reader, please do peruse and consider Numbers 11 as background before reading the following entry, as some verses quoted will be from this chapter. If possible, read from the King James Version. You’ll see why.
There’s asking, and then there’s complaining. Have you ever been around someone who complains continually about all the people and situations in his or her life, only to step back and observe how that person’s life seems to grow in its burdens and complexity? And the more they complain and attempt to micromanage, the worse it gets. They may even beg for prayer from others, but it is a litany of complaint for which they want a harmonizing choir. The litany, it seems, reads, “my will be done” instead of “Thy will be done”.
Nothing new under the sun, is there?
Some would say these are our best “teachers”. The lesson being dramatized: Don’t be like this.
This chapter reveals a similar situation with Israel in the wilderness. They were being divinely cared for with all their needs met, having been delivered out of a four-hundred year enslavement under Pharaoh in Egypt. They were fed with heavenly food. Their clothing and shoes did not wear out. Their response? “…and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” They had, along with “the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting”.
Don’t you love the KJV way of stating it? There’s just something really punchy about “fell a lusting”!
Ah, the good old days! Nothing like slaving it away under Pharaoh. Now, if memory serves us, it had it’s up side. There were these great little trendy bistros along the Nile. And Pharaoh? Well, he was kind of a hunk – looked a lot like Yul Brynner. But this Moses guy? All we get are these paddy cakes every day. And we’re not even vegetarian! This is boring. Can’t You hear us whining, murmuring, complaining and whimpering? What are we, chopped liver?
That’s what “fell a lusting” looks like. It’s spiritually adulterous – that’s why the KJV trumps, where other translations use such expressions as “greedy desire” and “strong cravings”.
It goes beyond a failure to count your blessings. It is a denial of divine blessing and a failure to acknowledge His hand in the midst of perhaps, well yes, maybe less than ideal circumstances – yet the very thing needed to work the greater work of Grace in us. To fall a lusting is a slap in the face of God. Israel had been taken out of Egypt. Now Egypt had to be taken out of them! That was what forty years in the wilderness was for, in order to prepare them to receive their inheritance in the Promised Land.
How soon we forget!
So what happens? God says, “OK, you want ‘flesh’? Well, guess what? You got what you asked for, and more!”
“Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?”
So back to that acquaintance (maybe even another believer) who whines about everything, and life for him/her only gets worse. In principle the same thing happens to them as it did to the Israelites.
Sometimes if we don’t see what God is doing, or acknowledge with awareness and gratitude His Grace in our life as He moves us through the “desert”, He needs to get out the tough love when we’re not seeing things from His perspectives. He has His ways of cracking us so that the light can come streaming into our darkness in order to dispel (dis-spell?!) it, and we can see His deeper plan for our life – which isn’t always the way we think the Google map ought to lead us. God doesn’t need our Google map. He’s driving the chariot and it has GPS – God’s Providential System.
So the quail fell from the sky. There were “waterfalls” of quail, a flood of quail. It rained quail in buckets for days. The winds blew in (are you ready for this?) quail mail!
Symbols are often universal in their meanings. Quail interestingly can symbolize both group or familial harmony. There was little harmony in this event in the family of God. It was a rather dis-harmonious litany of grievances against the Lord. Oddly enough this little bird also symbolizes either love or lust! And there you have it – they went a lusting, so they wound up consuming their “flesh response” to God’s good in its symbolic form, and it eventually consumed them. So, put up a wail and you may wind up eating quail. If that’s better than eating crow, I do not know!
Be careful what you ask for (and how you ask for it); you just might get it.
Oh, the price of ingratitude…
It’s really for the birds!