Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 (NRSV)
The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the LORD became very angry, and Moses was displeased. So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.”
So the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!”
The Israelites remember the lavish Egyptian buffets—but they have forgotten their Egyptian slavery. They remember the appetizing aroma of onions and garlic—but they have forgotten the agony of oppression and abuse.
Maybe it’s a gift, this selective memory of theirs, but it does not seem to serve them well. Rather than freeing them from the pain of the past so they can move on, it makes them nostalgic for exactly the thing they longed to escape—and it makes them ungrateful at a time when they should be filled with thanksgiving.
The people’s dissatisfaction is contagious. Before you know it, God is angry, Moses is fed up, and the people are in tears. Feed us! Feed us!
I love the way God intervenes. Before sending meat, God sends a nourishing Spirit, and the leaders are filled—not with deep-fried quail, but with a word from the Lord.
God recognizes a craving beyond the people’s obvious hunger: a craving to know that leaving Egypt’s lavish mess tents and following Moses into this barren desert was, in fact, the right choice; a deep longing to know that they are not alone out here in the wilderness.
God gives them exactly what they need.
Lord, we work hard to fill our own empty spaces:
to satisfy our desires with whatever is convenient;
to fill our days with the sort of busyness
that makes us feel more important, and less alone.
But the truth is, Lord, that we need you: how we need you!
Fill our empty spots, Lord. Amen.
Go with God!