And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” 7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. 8 The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9 And when the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
The LORD therefore said to Moses, 18 And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” “Greedy desires” in verse four represents the same Hebrew words translated “craved intensely” in Psalm 106:14. In both cases, the Hebrew reads, “desired desires,” an idiom which means something like “they had intense cravings.” The point is they were being controlled by their desires because they believed Satan’s delusion that happiness comes in having one’s wants met.
Verse 4 above also shows how people are easily and wrongly influenced when they are not personally in touch with the Lord. Israel was wrongly influenced by the “rabble” among them. This serves to remind us that we can’t get by on someone else’s spirituality. We each need to obtain for ourselves. The weeping and the question regarding the meat to eat displays their discontent and is a form of complaining rather than trusting.
Verse 5 illustrates the foolish and ironic product of a wrong focus. While they quickly forgot the pain of their slavery, their focus turned to the temporal delicacies of Egypt— the cucumbers, melons and onions, etc. Rather than remembering the mighty works of God which manifested His love, grace, and power, they were thinking about temporal things such as cucumbers and garlic. Verse 6 illustrates the discontent and dissatisfaction that occurs when we buy into Satan’s lies and take our focus off the person and plan of God. As you read this verse, keep in mind the great blessings God had in store for the nation once they reached the land, a land flowing with what? Milk and honey! Verse 18 is a warning to get right with God. It shows them the problem was not their food or lack of what they wanted, but the condition of their heart, their focus, and their lack of faith.
Verses 19 and 20 reveal the disappointment and the irony. That which they thought they had to have for their happiness failed and left them empty. These verses serve to remind us again that the details of life, while they may give pleasure for a season, can never satisfy the primary and deepest longings of our heart. So the things they craved soon become loathsome.
Principle: Things cannot satisfy. Unless we enjoy a vital and dependent relationship with the Lord, we will invariably tire of “things” and end up in the never ending pursuit of new relationships, better working conditions, new hobbies, greater pleasure, etc. But something will always seem to be missing. We will never truly be happy or content. Why is that? Because we are looking for the right things but in all the wrong places. Our focus and our basic foundation for life must be anchored in the Lord. While waiting on Him, we need to prayerfully look to Him to lead us and supply our needs and wants in His timing and in the way He deems fit.
Verse 20b gives us the reason things cannot satisfy—“because you have rejected the Lord who is among you …” Note the “because” that introduces the last half of this verse. The meat became loathsome—they grew tired of it. It wasn’t because they had it every day, but because they were seeking their satisfaction and happiness from their food and the details of life rather than from a vital relationship with their Lord. Scripture calls this rejecting the Lord.
As the text shows us, their cravings, followed by their dissatisfaction, constituted the rejection of God in a number of ways. By their cravings and their complaining, they were saying in essence:
- God is not enough
- God is not sufficient for the adversity we are facing
- God does not know what He is doing. He has brought us out here to die in the wilderness
In their complaining and questioning as to why they had ever left Egypt in the first place, they were not only failing to rest in God’s wisdom, love, and timing, but they were rejecting what God offered them. Why did and does God do this? Please note the following passage:
Deuteronomy 8:1-11 All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. 2 And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. 11 Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;
Verse one reminds the children of Israel of God’s primary purpose for them as His people. Verse two reminds them of God’s plan and methods. Verse three declares the purpose of God’s testing as well as the reason things never satisfy. They are designed to teach us the need of contentment through a vital walk with the Lord whereby we learn to cling to Him as the foundation for all of life. We were created for God with a vacuum which only He can fill. God created us so that we could enjoy the blessings of this life, but without a dependent walk with the Lord, one in which we are truly resting in His love and grace, we will be empty!
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.