When God Gives In

Egypt column with birds on it

Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.”. . . “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” (Numbers 11:4, 5, 20).

It just came to a breaking point, and the manna wasn’t doing it anymore. The newly emancipated and powerfully delivered Jewish nation had a taste for meat, but had none. Even though they had subsisted on the meager meals of slaves, they were accustomed to a certain diet. Here now, the wilderness was hot and dusty. Melons would have been refreshing, and the garlic and leeks would have seasoned the food the way they liked it. The requests were not unreasonable, but they came with so much whining that Moses almost had a nervous breakdown.

God heard them. He answered them. His mighty wind sent quail up from the sea, where they hovered over at approximately three and a half feet. The Israelites spent the day “catching” the birds, and collected tons of them to eat and dry for later. Their prayers—their whining—had been answered.

But while they were yet eating, the quail brought a plague on them—God had warned Moses that they would eat until satisfied. Actually, His promise was that they would eat so much of it that it would come from their noses. Everything you could want, your every craving satisfied. Apparently, it wasn’t such a good thing. An interesting case study in the spiritual science of the mind under the duress of temptation—the mind loses rationality and ultimately rejects God.

Never mind the fact that manna, created in heaven and delivered fresh, sparkled in the sun after the dewdrops evaporated. You can’t get more of a direct blessing than that. And that is exactly what Jesus prayed for when He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Never mind the fact that manna was rich, nutritious, and suited for the needs of the people. After all, the people were apparently hardy enough to wander, fight off enemies, and carry on their divinely appointed tasks. Were they not? Never mind the fact that manna was apparently versatile enough to bake, fry, and boil. Apparently, they could make it what they wanted it to be. Could they not? Yeah, but “all we get is manna, manna, manna,” they cried (Numbers 11:6, Message).*

So much worse than that, the mind in want, in varying degrees, rejects God. How the words “in Egypt” must have stung God’s ears. You mean in Egypt where you were a slave? In Egypt where you were oppressed? In Egypt where you were in tatters? In Egypt where you worked your fingers raw? He finally moved heaven and earth, after 400 years of slavery, to bring them out of Egypt. His timing, His miracles, His glory calculated to inspire the heart. Yet they wailed: “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?”

An analysis of recent polling regarding “America’s favorite sins” is insightful (see “The Anatomy of Temptation,” page 10). Half of the participants in the study conducted by the Barna Group did not know why they give in to their temptations. Some respondents acted on their whims because they wanted to, or enjoyed it, or to feel less pain, or get away from “real life.”

Only 1 percent of Americans of any age are able to articulate that giving in to temptation might be caused by sin. Most Americans think of temptation more as a steady stream of highs and lows that must be navigated.

(“New Research Explores the Changing Shape of Temptation,” www.barna. org/culture-articles/597-new-years-resolutions-tempta tions-and-americas-favorite-sins?q=favorite+sins).

Is that it? Is that all there is to it? That so few selfdescribed Christians even think their tendencies come from sin signals a lapse in understanding of who we are, the mark of sin on our psyches, and the gravity of even simple choices. Was your temptation just a low point in your experience? Was it really just about a taste for something, an inconsequential, but irrepressible urge? Or was it something more? Could it be your mind unconsciously rejecting the only Deliverer you will ever have for the things to which you are now accustomed?


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