So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:6)
When the children of Israel complained about the manna, calling it “detestable bread,” it greatly contributed to their downfall. It was as if they said the bread God gave to them was insufficient to sustain them through the desert crossing. Perhaps more so than other sins, their constant complaining is what brought about their ultimate destruction. When Paul mentioned this incident to the Corinthians, he more or less suggested that grumbling and complaining was their undoing saying, “Nor let us tempt Messiah, 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” (1 Corinthians 10:9-10).
In relegating their daily bread to being something “detestable,” they were essentially saying that the Word of God (personified in the Messiah) was not enough to sustain them. The complaint was more of an insult because it seemed to ignore all the miracles that had brought them out of Egypt and through the desert. In fact, they had been redeemed from Egyptian bondage because they trusted in God’s promise and, specifically, in the blood of the lamb that was upon their doorposts. It was the blood that served as a sign, prompting God to pass over them and not allow the Destroyer to enter their homes.
Understanding this is key to appreciating the importance of Paul’s observations, for you see, the same destroyer who was prevented from entering their homes in Egypt was the same destroyer who brought death to them in the wilderness. What was the difference? They believed God could save them from Egypt but they wouldn’t believe that He could finish the job and bring them into the land of promise. They believed the blood could save them from bondage but did not believe the Word of God could suffice for their day-to-day needs.
Paul made it clear that this is something you and I must consider. He warned that, “these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). We must be careful not to follow the bad example they set; if we trust the Blood of the Lamb to save us from our sins, then we should trust the Messiah to be true to His Word and save us from the dangers of this world. So we’ll end with these words: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Yeshua the Messiah” (Philippians 1:6).
Blessings and Shalom,