“Now the mixed multitude 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).
How would you rate your level of contentment with the things you have? Are you filled with peace and joy as you rejoice at all the blessings in your life or do you struggle with envy and jealousy because, as you compare yourself with others, you wish you had some of the things they do?
The children of Israel had left the bondage of Egypt and had gathered at Mount Sinai to hear God speak to them (Exodus 19:1-20:20). Then they began their journey from Mount Sinai and were headed to the Promised Land (Numbers 10:11-13). During their time in the wilderness, God had provided them with food to eat by giving them manna from heaven each day (Exodus 16:4-36). They could visibly see that God was leading them by the cloud that led them by day (Numbers 10:34).
However, when they left Egypt not only did the children of Israel depart, but a “mixed multitude”, which probably included some God-fearing Egyptians, went with them as well (Exodus 12:38). Now that “mixed multitude” was no longer content with the manna God had provided for them to eat. They gave in to an “intense desire” to have meat. As the opening verses above indicate, this grumbling spread and all the children of Israel become discontent. Not only were they discontent with the manna God had provided, but now they loathed the manna God had given them (Numbers 11:4-6).
It is interesting that God did give His people the meat they desired. In fact, in His chastening of His people over their sin, for a whole month God caused so many quails to fly among them that they ate meat until it came out of their nostrils (Numbers 11:18-20, 31-32). Also in His wrath, God also struck the people with a plague (Number 11:33). Israel would name this place “Kibroth Hattaavah” which means “Graves of Craving” (Numbers 11:34). The name of this place on the map would forever serve as a reminder to Israel of the dangers of discontentment.
As I read this I can’t help but ask myself, “How often do I fail to be content with what God has provided for me?” Like the “mixed multitude” it is so easy for me to take my eye off rejoicing in the things which God has given to me (e.g. my family, my relationship with Him, my job, my health, my daily food, etc.) and begin to become discontent by moaning over the things which He has not chosen to give me (e.g. excessive wealth, perfect health, the “perfect” family). Like Israel, I often times listen to those around me (e.g. TV commercials, my peers, etc.) instead of listening to God. As a result, this breeds discontentment in my heart and I make myself miserable.
As Christians, it is vitally important that we “learn” contentment. We all have desires that we struggle with that can lead to sin (James 1:14-15). The key is to not let these desires become “intense desires” by dwelling on these desires instead of on God and submitting ourselves to His Will. God has provided us with so many blessings! Today, I will take time to rejoice in what God has given me and work on not letting Satan lead my heart astray through discontentment.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).