“They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
As Israel followed God out of Egypt and through the wilderness, they faced many obstacles. Some of the more memorable ones were the Egyptian army, the Red Sea, and the wilderness without food or water. These obstacles became opportunities for them to see God accomplish great things. He parted the Red Sea, exterminated the Egyptian army, provided water from a rock, and sent food from heaven to feed His people. As time went on, the people grew tired of the provision of God, and began to yearn for something else. This passage refers to an event recorded in Numbers 11, where the people complained to Moses about the Manna. In response, the Lord sent an enormous flock of quail. The people went nuts beating the quail out of the sky and devouring the flesh. It seems from the text, they were so out of control in devouring the quail, that they did not cook it properly and became sick from it. The Psalmist writes; “They lusted exceedingly in the wilderness.”
The text in Numbers 11 tells us the contributing factors which led to giving into their lust. First, it had much to do with the people with whom they surrounded themselves. Two groups of people are listed with the children of Israel. One was the mixed multitude; which refers to people who came out of Egypt with Israel, who were not committed to the Lord. Sometimes the most dangerous relationships are those who claim to be followers of the Lord, but are not committed to Him. We tend to let our guard down around them because we view them as believers. Sadly, that often leads to compromise in our walk with the Lord. Another group mentioned were those who dwelt on the outskirts of the camp. Prior to this, God had mapped out where the people were to camp. Each tribe had a spot with the Tabernacle in the center. No one was told to live on the outskirts. Those who did, were breaking fellowship with the rest of the congregation.
This is all too common of an occurrence. Christians break fellowship for many reasons; all of which seem to be a good idea at the time, but since God designed us to need the encouragement, rebuke and example of one another, this broken fellowship will always weaken us, and lead to failure. Finally, we are told they “yielded to intense craving.” As we walk with the Lord, we are constantly facing temptation, but there are times when those temptations create a greater draw than others. It is at those times we need to fight harder against the flesh, cling tighter to the Lord, and surround ourselves even more with the people of God. Instead of clinging to the Lord, they gave in to their desire, and the end result was their flesh got what it wanted, but their souls got leaner. In other words, this had a detrimental effect upon them spiritually.
One thing is certain, each of us will face temptation today. That temptation will promise to make us happy, only to rob us of the life God has promised. Rather than giving into those desires, let’s be sure to cling more tightly to the Lord. Perhaps it would be a good thing to call a Christian friend and confide in them the struggle you are facing,that they may hold your hands up in prayer.