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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Nothing But Manna (Numbers 11.6)
Date Posted: October 1, 2020

An old adage: “Don’t complain about the food with your mouth full!” A small sign in the kitchen reads, “Complaints to the cook can be hazardous to your health.” These are what we might call “Common Sense” proverbs; they are so obvious that no one should have to teach us that they are to be observed.

Yet, this common sense lesson (along with scores of others) was totally missed by the Israelites both before and after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Take the following passage for example: “Now the mixed multitude [Egyptians and other tag alongs] who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘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; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!’” (Numbers 11.4-6).

There is a vast difference between appetite and hunger. Appetite is the desire to eat without regards to the need for eating. Another word for appetite is the one used in today’s focus text, craving. Cravings come in all shapes and sizes and in all places and ages. Hunger, on the other hand, deals with one’s need for nourishment. All humans who are reasonably healthy get hungry from time to time and find it necessary to satisfy their need for food. The Israelites were not hungry; they just had a craving. They remembered the fish, cucumbers, melons and other delicacies that they enjoyed in Egypt. With these thoughts in their minds and manna in their mouths, they complained about the cook!

Appetite can be a terrible thing, especially where the lack of restraint is present. Eve gave in to appetite and brought suffering to the entire human race. She had everything she could ever have wanted to eat, but she developed a craving for the one thing in the universe that God had placed on her list of foods to avoid. Cain craved God’s favor, but his appetite for acceptance was not governed by common sense restraints. The fact that he wanted God’s favor more than he loved justice also landed him in a terrible fix for the rest of his natural life. The multitudes that were unable to enter the ark which Noah prepared were pulled on every side by appetites for worldly things; “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away…” (Matthew 24.38-39).

This attitude is one which makes gratitude shrivel up and die on the vine. Had the Israelites been thoughtful of just how fortunate they were, their complaints would never have seen the light of day. Paul wrote about their error, saying, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10.6-12).

It can truthfully be said that there are no big sins and little sins, but the one which would seem to be most hurtful to our Creator is the sin of ingratitude and implacability. Let us not be guilty of saying, “We have nothing but manna!” But, let’s especially avoid such when our mouths are full of manna!

Questions:

1. Who was the mixed multitude about whom Moses spoke?

2. Rather than the Israelites being an example to this multitude, who set the example and who did the following?

3. How was Eve’s sin similar in desiring and then partaking of the forbidden fruit?

4. How can we be guilty of the same sin? What does gratitude or the lack of it have to do with this sin?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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