February 2, 2023
“The mixed multitude among them had a craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt...”
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“The mixed multitude among them had a craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!’” Numbers 11:4-6
“Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. A little voice inside my head said, ‘Don’t look back…you can never look back.’” Don Henley
One year after their miraculous deliverance, the Israelites are starting to yearn for dear old Egypt. In some ways, they were not unlike the Grateful Dead fan in Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer.” He wanted his free-spirited Hippie youth without forfeiting his yuppie Cadillac.
Israel wanted both: Their freedom and the benefits of Egypt. They chose to remember the positive aspects of Egypt, somehow forgetting the whole “slavery” thing.
God’s response: You can’t have your manna and Egypt too! (It was funny to me…)
To be fair to Israel, it wasn’t the whole nation who was grumbling, at least at first. It all started with what the Bible calls the “mixed multitude.” These were the foreigners who came out of Egypt along with the Israelites. They had no enduring relationship with God yet benefited from Israel’s blessed deliverance.
As we learned at the end of chapter 10, there is a shared blessing for any Gentile who partners with Israel. On Mount Sinai, God gave the same directions for both Israelites and foreigners living among them to worship Him. If the foreigner disobeyed, he would be put out of the community or killed!
However, God’s miracles were too soon forgotten. Hunger always determines the behavior of the ungodly. Pretty soon, many in the “mixed multitude” complained about God’s rules of holiness and shucked the kosher laws for some unclean dinner! Those Israelites close to them disobeyed, as well.
In American culture, being “separate unto God” is not honored…even among many who profess to be believers. It never surprises me when followers of Jesus choose to live on the “border” of the Church and the World, then fall into moral disrepair. Their demise is foretold in numerous Bible accounts, such as today’s chapter.
Our greatest strength is found when we are closest to that section of God’s people who seek the Lord without abandon. When THAT section moves out to impact the World, it is harder for the enemy to pick them off…because they move out as a group, not as individuals.
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