“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2 – 3)
Man and woman . . . people . . . humanity . . . does not live by bread alone. Nor by meat. But we do need food to eat. And the Israelites out there in the desert were worried about their stomachs, and the stomachs of their families. But to go to the extreme of rather dying in captivity and being feed, rather than being free and having to forage to find food! I have said before that living in Egypt for generations did no good things for the fortitude and stamina of God’s called and chosen people. They had forgotten what it meant for their forebearers to fend for themselves and follow the Lord God’s leading. And it must have seemed to Moses they would never learn. And as we will see later, it took a lot – a lot of experiences and time for them to be re-forged into a people of God.
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” (Verses 4 – 5)
Now Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons grew and raised their own food. It is what they did, and they did not expect to live any other kind of life. But these Israelites, who were so used to the “fleshpots” of Egypt (and by the way, it is not accident that “fleshpots” are now considered unsavory), are having a hard time managing in the deserts. I do not know whether they grew their own food in Egypt, or were feed by their overlords. But they seem like an awfully unprepared people.
“So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him–what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD.” (Verses 6 – 8)
Yes, they are rightly called the “children” of God because they complain like children and whine like children. And we could rightly exhort against them for their complaints . . . until we remember the times we have complained and whined to the Lord. Acting like “children” ourselves; not children that have trust and faith in their Protector and Caregiver, but whining, mewling children who refuse to do anything for themselves and insist on everything being provided to them, just the way they want it.
“Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said,
“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'”
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.” (Verses 9 – 15)
The other thing we need to remember, beloved reader, is hindsight. If we do not live by bread (and meat) alone, we do not understand when we have been taken care of until we see it in hindsight. I am sure as I look back on this part of my life, I will see where the Lord has taken care of me. But now, in midst of it, I am fearful about what will come next. However, I also am hopeful that when I write this a week in advance, when you read it things will be better and changed for me. It is a hope, a wish, and a prayer that is ever in front of me.
And truth to tell, the lessons that these Israelites will have to learn is a lesson that generations ahead in their future their offspring will have to learn. To trust in the Lord, and be faithful to the Lord. It is a lesson that all of us have to learn, and learn it over and over. Would that we would learn, and heed the lesson forever! Selah!