The people are on their way around Edom because they were told STRONGLY that they couldn’t go through it. And they start to complain AGAIN.
I know I’m tired of hearing their favorite verse of their favorite song; “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness.” I KNOW God is tired of hearing it. Today they add another verse in that had my jaw dropping; “We loathe this worthless food” (verse 5c).
Seriously? “Worthless food”! How ungrateful could they be? This is the bread of Heaven. The portion that God gave them every morning without fail. The food that they didn’t have to labor to bring to harvest. All they had to do was get up and pick it up from the ground every day. And THEY were the ones who turned it into something more to eat. THEY mixed it in with herbs and spices to make their meals. God didn’t mandate their recipes.
I have to admit that I get tired eating the same things every day but that doesn’t make it “worthless.” What it means is that I have fallen into a rut of my own making. Then it is up to me to get myself out of it.
Yes, Israel had limited menu choices because of where they were but I’m CERTAIN they had some variety too. And even if they didn’t, at least they were all well fed. As for having no water, we know that was not true either. God provided water for them on several occasions. No, they didn’t have enough to go swimming in all day long but they were NOT dying of thirst.
God showed them what He thought of their attitude. My bible says He “sent fiery serpents among the people” (verse 6). Let’s not be naive here and say that God didn’t know they would bite the people. This was a punishment. He knew the serpents would bite and that their bites would kill. God didn’t tell the serpents who to bite but He also didn’t prevent them from biting.
The people got His message loud and clear. They knew they had sinned AGAIN. They were even able to name their sin. They asked Moses to intercede for them AGAIN. And he did.
I’m curious why God gave Moses the instructions to construct something that could easily have been turned into an article of worship; a false god. God DID NOT give them an alternate god. He gave them something they could see since they obviously had trouble with putting their faith in Him. He met them where they were. He gave them a solution that worked ONLY when they believed HE would work through it on their behalf WHEN they followed His directions. The serpent held no power if the ignored His rules for its use.
An analogy of a light bulb just popped into my head when thinking about this. A light bulb can give light to a room but only when it is used properly. It must be put into the proper receptacle and that receptacle must be receiving power. The bulb has no light of its own. Only when charged by the electric current does it produce light.
Jesus also used this incident in reference to His crucifixion. He said that He would be lifted up from the earth just as the serpent had been in the wilderness. He would also give life to those who looked to Him for their salvation. Gazing at the serpent meant restoration of physical life but looking to Jesus gives spiritual life. The first is temporary and is a temporary fix. The second is an eternal fix that lasts forever!
Father God, I’m sorry You had to keep hearing that same “song” from the people. I’m sure I have some “favorite songs” too. I pray I’ve learned enough to abandon the old ones. Your patience and restraint are AMAZING! I don’t know how I would have reacted to their words. You gave them the BEST there was and it still wasn’t good enough. I have a feeling I would have let them try a time without that “worthless food.” Then we would see how much they liked it. I bet their tune would have changed in a hurry.
I still wonder why You gave them something that looked like a god to get them out of their problems. Maybe it was because it was an IMMEDIATE fix. They didn’t have to go through all the processes of gathering and bringing a sacrifice. Doing so might have taken longer than they had left to live. Giving them an immediate and simple task shortened their healing time. But history shows us that they did come to worship this item, just as I figured they would. But You took care of that too by destroying it.
Thank You for being my source. I need no other. Forgive me for complaining about my day. I need to “change my song” here too. You have been prompting me to do this and helping me in its application. Keep working on me Holy Spirit. I see some progress but I know there is much more work to be done. Thank You for never giving up on me!