Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Numbers 10, 11, 12 Manna vs. Meat

A tree of an unidentified species of Acacia (p...Image via Wikipedia

In these chapters of Numbers nearly two years had elapsed since the Israelites fled Egypt.  Throughout these months God was teaching them to trust in His provision for them (manna); to rely on His protection (battle with the Amalekites); to surrender to His direction (Israel camped where God led them); to heed His timing (Israel broke camp and marched when God said it was time to go). 

Yet, in spite of God’s Presence and obvious hand in the life of Israel, numerous Israelites began to complain about their circumstances.  Many decided that they didn’t like the manna God provided anymore – they craved the foods they ate in Egypt, forgetting the tears and hardship that accompanied those meals.  When Israel craved foods eaten in Egypt they were effectively rejecting God’s bountiful and loving provision for them in the desert. They said that God's food wasn't appetizing.

So, God agreed to supply the camp with enough quail to last them a month.  This account, however, reads like a bestial orgy implying that the meat wasn’t even cooked when Israel began to eat it.  Even though God instructed Israel about draining the blood of an animal before eating it, about correctly preparing food in a way that honored Him and sanctified the meal, Israel just grabbed the quail in a feeding frenzy.  By indulging an unbridled appetite, those who ate like that effectively turned away from God by disobeying His word and by despising His food.    Rather, they preferred to obtain a meal in their own way.

While the meat was still between their teeth, a severe plague struck  those who craved meat.  It is interesting to note that there is a difference between eating quail and "craving other food" (Numbers 11:34).  I wonder if the people who prepared the quail according to God's instructions, without craving it, survived the plague. 

From this reading I get that God provides what is best for us.  It may not necessarily be what we crave or desire, but it will always be what we require.  God knew what was needed for the journey ahead of Israel and He was methodically teaching Israel to trust in His sovereignty.
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