Things felt dark and bleak.
“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD…” (Numbers 11:1)
The people of Israel were being led by God to wander around in the wilderness. Their basic need for food was being supplied, but by a very boring diet with no variety. The people were fed up with manna. They wanted to eat meat. The people missed the variety of food they had had, even as slaves, in Egypt.
The problem was more internal than external. What could help?
Not miracles, nor wonders. Not the crossing of the Red Sea. Not manna from heaven, nor water from the rock. Not a pillar of cloud, nor a pillar of fire. And certainly not the meat they asked for. God gave it to them every day for a month, until it came out of their nostrils (Numbers 11:20).
External help is not enough, if there is no inner response. In that state we fail to notice those positive things that may be happening right now in the midst of our difficulty. It’s dark inside of us. We are consumed with thoughts about the past. Suddenly the past (“life in Egypt”) looks so good.
A person with no inner response to God’s light and provision becomes a “dry soul.” Unfortunately, this can be a contagious disease permeating the entire people, affecting even the leaders. Notice that Miriam and Aaron also complained (Numbers 12:1). Moses wanted to quit and even despaired of life: “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:14-15)
In this condition we can feel that there is no joy, no point to our lives.
One of the solutions is the commandment God gave to actively, intentionally set up the source of light in the tabernacle, in a high, dominant, visible way. “…set up the lamps… they will shine light…” (Numbers 8:2)
This will allow us to perceive those things which ARE positive at any given moment, and live solidly in the moment, today. Let’s be thankful for what we do have, and let’s lift up the source of life.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of mankind. And the light shone in the darkness.” (John 1:2)
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