“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving.” Numbers 11:4,34. The Hebrew phrase “strong craving” is translated “lusted a lust”. Of course, we Christians will protest that we don’t lust. But that isn't true and we all know it. Even if we don’t get mired knee-deep in sexual desires, we salivate over a mouth-watering steak or make the statement that a sensual dessert is “to die for”.
We all need to be reminded that the Israelites' lust started out as innocent food cravings, too. The end result was that many of God’s chosen people were severely chastised to the point of death and buried in unmarked graves in the Wilderness. They never made it to the Promised Land.
The Almighty has appointed this specific scripture for our review today and through this week. In fact, everything that has ever happened and will happen is designated on His calendar for the world He created. According to His appointment, May 6 on our 2018 Gregorian calendar is the 20th day of the second month on God's calendar. It marked the beginning of the Israelites journey to Paran, where many died because of their cravings and complaints about God's provision.
“On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran..." Numbers 10:11-13
The Hebrew word “Numbers” actually means “in the Wilderness”. Even as God led them by the movement of His mighty presence in the Cloud of Glory, His people grumbled and doubted Him. He provided manna and water to sustain and nourish their physical lives, and the Tabernacle of Testimony to meet their spiritual needs, but their hunger for other things was seldom satiated by God’s choices.
Remember that the Israelites set out on the 20th day of the second month. They traveled 3 days following the Ark of the Covenant and the Cloud of the Lord, probably arriving in Paran on the 22nd or 23rd day of the second month on God’s calendar, May 8 or 9 on our 2018 calendar.
It wasn’t long before God’s chosen people started murmuring and complaining. "Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them, His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:1.
Even after that, they didn't stop their murmuring. Read these excerpts from the rest of the chapter: "And the people of Israel also wept again and said, 'Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.' "
"Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it."
"Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the Lord...'Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, “Give us meat, that we may eat…”
"…Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘…say to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat...You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, ‘Why did we come out of Egypt?’ ”
"But Moses said, ‘The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, “I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!” Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?’ ”
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’ ”
"...Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail…While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving."
Truly, if we have joined the majority of "God's chosen" still craving the things of this world, even simple basics like food, we are part of what God identifies as “the rabble”. The Hebrew transliteration used here is “asaphsuph" and it is the only place it is used in the entire Bible. It's a a word specifically used to identify the unfaithful “rift-raft” whose cravings for the things of this world spread like wildfire through the congregation of God’s chosen people.
Cravings come in all shapes and sizes, but they always reflect our deceitful hearts. Perhaps our inner craving is for success and appreciation in the ministry of our choice. Or we set ourselves on lofty pedestals of leadership and dedication, serving our own golden ego. Or maybe we want to be a Christian in this world and not "stick out like a sore thumb". So we salivate over the prospect of "having our cake and eating it too" and gauge our ministries and worship to the same end.
This is definitely an idolatry issue, just as it was for God's chosen people of Israel. We are placing whatever it is we need to fulfill our lives and make us feel good about ourselves, before the provision of God Almighty Himself.
3500 years ago, during this same week, people who claimed to follow God "lusted a lust" and complained to death, literally. The harsh reality is we all deserve the same penalty the rabble of Israel received. But The Almighty has always had a plan in place. He loved us so much He sent His Only Begotten Son "..so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So now, we won't end up like the Israelites in the wilderness of Kibroth-Hattaavah, which literally means "Graves of Craving".
Or will we? The choice is ours.
“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving”