Saturday, 6 September 2008

Moaning about manna

Reflecting once more upon the familiar story of manna being supplied to the people in the wilderness (Numbers 11), I was struck by the spiral of sin into judgment.

1. It begins with ingratitude: the people (i.e. us) despise God's daily grace and provision ("manna"). Once seen as amazing, it is then assumed. Then it becomes ordinary and finally it seems to lack. God's grace is simply not 'enough' for me. How much of my sin is rooted in the feeling that God and His grace is not enough!

2. One seeks something else instead of God's grace and provision. We're told that the dissatisfaction of the people is rooted in a "strong craving" (v.4) for something other than what the LORD has given them, "Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing but this manna to look at." Egypt will provide what the LORD does not. The craving blinds and deceives.

3. Self-pity, melodrama and demands take over - the people end up weeping dramatically at Moses's door for meat (v.10). The subtle growth in the heart of self-righteous indignation ("I've been treated badly...I deserve something more") is very powerful.

4. What is the judgment? The people get what they want! (v.19-20)"You shall not eat for just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathesome to you..." How scary to be given what you want! Your craving is met and you find out that it wasn't what you were craving!

I am reminded of how ingratitude leads to an unhappy and dissatisfied life. The root is despising daily grace, which really means despising the LORD, "you have rejected the LORD who is among you" (v.20).