Monday, September 16, 2013
On Craving Meat (Or "Where's the Beef?")
Since the Israelites had left Egypt and entered the wilderness under Moses' leadership, God had graciously sent manna from heaven that arrived each morning with the dew. This manna has been described as flakes or resembling coriander, or even a resin substance that may taste like honey to children and pastry to adults. It was to be gathered daily and not stored, for if it was kept overnight, it got rancid and filled with worms. Except on the Sabbath. On the day before the Sabbath, the Israelites could collect the manna and save it overnight and it would not spoil. In this way, they did not have to work on the Sabbath. The collected manna was ground and made into cakes with olive oil and boiled. I imagine the Israelites found every single way to prepare it.
It has been speculated by some scholars that since the Lord was providing this spiritual and physical substance to keep them alive, that the body did not have to eliminate, if you get what I'm saying. I'm not sure if this is the case, but I can imagine that if the body got used to a certain diet, changing it up would mess with the digestive system.
In Numbers 11:4 it says, "Contemptible people among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, “Who will feed us meat? 5 We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”"
Notice that the verse says that the Israelites cried AGAIN. In the verse before this, the Israelites had started to complain about hardships. They had been freed from slavery, but now they were beginning to become dissatisfied with walking through the wilderness with God, trusting him to take them somewhere. The Bible says that the Lord was angry with His people and a blaze began to burn around the camp. This might be a good warning for some, but as you can see, once this grumbling and complaining began, it spread like a virus.
Now the people were remembering the good food they used to have as slaves and were crying to Moses, which was driving him crazy. Moses appealed to the Lord and basically said he couldn't take their complaints any longer.
This was the Lord's reply: "18 “Tell the people: Purify yourselves in readiness for tomorrow, and you will eat meat because you cried before the Lord: ‘Who will feed us meat? We really had it good in Egypt.’ The Lord will give you meat and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not for one day, or two days, or five days, or 10 days, or 20 days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes nauseating to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and cried to Him: ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’”
Yikes. Be careful what you ask for. God soon created a wind that brought quail all around the camp, hovering about three feet off the ground. The people spent a day, night, and a day collecting all of the quail, the least amount being 50 bushels per person. And then they commenced eating the meat. Can you even imagine how years of eating manna which was spiritual and physical food from the Lord had not prepared the body to accept all that meat?
You guessed it. The people got sick, very sick from a plague that came along with the meat (if you are of the camp that the people had not defecated in years, you can only imagine), and many died.
SO I was thinking about this passage. Something struck me about it. I don't crave the same meat the Israelites did, but perhaps I crave other meat. I looked at my life, and one area in particular (you writers might relate to this), and saw that the Lord has, indeed, provided manna for me for years--spiritual and physical food that he has blessed me with. But how have I handled it? Gratefully always? Or have I at times whined and complained to the Lord that I am now craving more substance? That this manna he has given me is great and all, but now, how about some real meat?
And then it occurred to me. Perhaps the "meat" I am craving will not at all suit me or my family. Perhaps I will not be able to digest this "meat" I am so sure I can handle and am ready for. Perhaps, like a baby, I don't have the teeth to deal with this meat yet at all.
Ouch. Here and now, I repent from my complaints. The Lord has so graciously provided for me my entire life. Who am I to ask him for something that may end up destroying me in the end? I will leave my destiny to him. I will say to God again, "Your will be done, not mine." I will continue to ask him for my "daily bread" and not a drop more lest it spoil. And if and when the Lord determines that I am ready for "meat", I will trust him to provide it when my system is ready to digest it properly. When the meat will be a blessing as the manna has been, sustaining and fortifying, and from God's provision, not from his anger with my complaining heart.
Is there anything you've been craving? Philippians 4:6-7 says, "...in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, give your requests to God." I think the thanksgiving part is key. If we are to go before the Lord and begin asking for more in our lives, let us first begin with thanking him for what he has provided so far, for the manna that has sustained us. Perhaps then our hearts will be positioned more humbly, and we might find that our requests change to what He wills, and not to what we prematurely crave or complain about.