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?” (Numbers 11:4)
In the previous devotion we spoke of the fire that broke out among those who lived on the outskirts of the camp. To be a bit more specific, the rabbinical belief is that this fire was concentrated among the arav rav or “mixed multitude.” These were the people who came out of Egypt and attached themselves to Israel, some sincerely and some in the guise of sincere converts. Let’s put it this way: there were those who were genuinely moved to join themselves to God’s people and those who only pretended to do so but whose hearts were never changed. This latter group, looking for a reason to complain, sought out those among God’s people who were willing to join with them in their grumbling.
To this day, the arav rav is regarded as a thorn in Israel’s side and is believed to be responsible for inciting God’s people to revolt — that is exactly what happened in this incident. They started lusting after the food given them in Egypt and influenced many of the Israelis to complain about the same thing. Complaints led to weeping (or we might say whining) and being discontented with God and His appointed leaders. As anyone who has been in ministry any length of time knows, grumbling and discontentedness is very contagious and can spread quickly throughout a body — that is exactly what occurred in the wilderness.
We’d all like to think that we are strong enough to set such people straight and get them to change their ways. The reality, however, is that it usually goes the other way. So here is some wisdom for you to consider: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” It is unfortunate but true that negativity and discontent is far more aggressive than being positive and hopeful. Negative influence can easily find inroads into our lives because it appeals to our flesh and carnal inclinations. On the other hand, being positive and hopeful goes against everything our flesh is telling us and especially when we are in the “wilderness.”
So the point today is to consider just who we are hanging around and listening to. Who do we allow into our lives to influence us in word, thought and deed? If our King is not our primary influence and resource, then it is time to make some changes in our circle of companions.
Blessings and Shalom,