Numbers 10-11

Rejecting God is Risky Business.

“And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until its coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it. And here’s why: Because you have rejected GOD who is right here among you, whining to his face, ‘Oh, why did we ever have to leave Egypt? – Numbers 11:19-20 MSG

Let the complaining begin. Complaining was an art form to the Israelites. It was like a competitive sport in which they all were stars. So just three days after having set out from Mount Sinai, they were whining about their food. Unlike a previous occasion when the people were out of food and complained, this time they had no reason for their complaints. This was not a case of need, but of lust. They had plenty of manna, miraculously provided for them by God. But they wanted MORE. They were tired of manna and wanted meat. They were not satisfied with God’s provision and wanted Him to know about it. Of course, they were afraid to tell Him to His face, so they took their complaint to Moses. This was their first real test since they had received the law at Mount Sinai. They had constructed the Tabernacle and had inaugurated it with sacrifices. They had dedicated the Levites to the service of God. And now they had set out on their first official journey with the Tabernacle in tow and the Law in their midst.

But it didn’t take long for them to settle back into their habit of complaining. The NET Study Bible makes this comment regarding verse 1 of chapter 11: “With this blunt introduction the constant emphasis of obedience to the word of the Lord found throughout the first ten chapters suddenly comes to an end. It is probable that the people were tired of moving for several days, the excitement of the new beginning died out quickly in the ‘great and terrible wilderness.’ Resentment, frustration, discomfort – whatever it all involved – led to complaining and not gratitude.” And it resulted in God’s anger. Why? Because they had rejected Him. Their actions were the equivalent of despising God and His care for them. They wanted to reject God’s plan for them and allowed their physical desires to dictate their actions and attitudes. They longed for meat. Their physical appetites controlled them. They were not hungry. They were lustful. This was not about a lack in God’s provision, but a blatant demand that their desires be met – on their terms. What God was doing was not enough for them.

So God gave them meat. He gave them their desire. But He warned them that getting what they wanted was not going to go well for them. “You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it.” God was going to let them have their lusts for more met, but they were going to discover that it was not going to satisfy them. It reminds me of the far-too-frequent times I tell God what it is that I need and demand that He give me my heart’s desires, only to find out that what it was that I thought I HAD to have, did not bring about the desired result. It didn’t satisfy. Whether it was more money, a bigger house, a nicer car, fancier clothes, a promotion, a bonus, a raise, etc. Often times, when we complain to God about what it is we DON’T have, it is because we are dissatisfied with what God has given us. We want more. We think we know what is best and so we tell God exactly what it is we need to be happy. And in doing so, we reject Him. We tell Him He is not enough and He is not wise enough to know how to meet our needs.

And it is not that God can’t provide more. He tells Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited?” You see, even Moses didn’t know how God was going to provide meat for that many people. He doubted. But God was fully capable. It was not a matter of whether God could provide meat for the people and fulfill their desire. It was a case of why God even had to. He was already feeding them, leading them, and caring for them. He had given them His Law, His Tabernacle, and a daily assurance of His presence. But that was not enough for them. They wanted more. And so do we. Far too often. And sometimes God lets us have what we want. He allows us to wallow in our abundance. And sometimes we learn the valuable, if not difficult, lesson that more is not always better. Abundance can be a curse. Affluence can lead to apathy. Abundance can result in a lack of dependence on God. It is not that either are inherently wrong, but that the desire for either can oftentimes reflect a dissatisfaction with God. We are looking for something else to give us what should be expecting from God: satisfaction, identity, comfort, contentment, joy, peace, and a sense of acceptance.

David summed it up well in Psalm 63: “Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you! I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings” (Psalm 63:3-7 NLT).

Father, You always faithfully meet my needs, but there are times I become dissatisfied and start to complain about my lot in life. I demand more. I feel like a deserve better. I tell you what it is that I want. I somehow think that something is missing and unless I get it, I won’t be happy. But You are enough. You know what is best. I want to learn to be satisfied with You. Because nothing else will ever give me what only You can. The things of this world will always fall short. They were never intended to be replacements for You, but blessings from You. Forgive me for making idols out of things. Help me trust You more. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org