“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” (Numbers 11:5)
Can you imagine being thrust into a situation that, as far as the natural eye is concerned, there is no source of food and water? On the other hand, God sees to it that your family is fed daily with heavenly bread. When you get thirsty, He causes water to break forth from a rock. In short, He takes care of your daily needs, even though He might not give you everything you want. It certainly would not be the ideal situation for most of us but, still, can you imagine yourself raising a complaint about it and then having the audacity to say, “We don’t want manna; we want Taco Bell and Burger King?”
In a manner of speaking that is pretty much what they said. It wasn’t just food they were lusting for — it was the food Egypt offered. They longed for the fish and cucumbers they could eat free of charge, albeit under the bonds of slavery. In fact, their statement was just another way of saying they preferred slavery over their present situation as long as they could have what Pharaoh provided — what they had grown accustomed to. Amplifying this point is the fact that they most definitely had a source for food among them — they came out of Egypt with flocks and herds.
The rabbis say the underlying sentiment in this complaint was, “We didn’t have to obey God’s command in order to eat.” Frankly, I find that to be plausible, and if accurate, then too many of God’s people preferred Pharaoh’s edicts to God’s instructions. They were willing to assign loyalty to a tyrant as long as the tyrant would give them what their flesh longed for. It is akin to Esau’s disdain for the birthright, and the responsibility that went along with it, preferring instead a “mess of pottage.”
It must not be this way with the people of God; we are called to pick up our cross and follow Messiah wherever, and through whatever, He take us. We are not to look back to where we were and long for it, but are to set our gaze on Him and the path before us. Though that may be difficult at times, we have this assurance: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25).
Blessings and Shalom,