Friday, May 11, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - Craving

Numbers 11:4-6 “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed. ‘We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!’”

For a believer, the Israelites’ time in the wilderness is symbolic of the spirit’s struggle with the flesh. From their first test of faith at Marah, to their desire to have a god that fit their convenience, they were always their own worst enemies.

In Numbers 11, their ugly side began to show again. It started among the mixture of people they had with them - the Egyptians that were impressed with the way God rescued Israel and followed them out to the wilderness. As they journeyed through the desert, these Egyptians began to crave their favorite foods from Egypt. Apparently this craving became a continuous topic of conversation and eventually the Israelites picked up on it. The miraculous provision that God poured out for them every morning became the object of complaint. They began to long for what they saw as the luxuries of Egypt; meat, fish, and a few vegetables. Ignoring the hardships of slavery, they began to dream of going back!

These complaints and cravings became rampant throughout the camp. Whenever two people talked to each other, this craving eventually wormed its way into the conversation. Whenever they came to see Moses, this was what they always brought up - we want meat to eat!

Finally, Moses got tired of dealing with their whining and moaning. Look at his conversation with God in verses 10-15, Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!

Whatever complaints these people had, they weren’t valid. They were rescued from a harsh life of slavery and were on their way to a land of their own. Their lives weren’t in danger - it wasn’t as if they were starving. And even though they may have a temporary shortage of meat, they did have meat to eat. They raised their own livestock, so manna wasn’t all they had to eat! Their problem was their own craving.

These people wouldn’t stop craving the things of Egypt, so God gave them over to it. He said in verse 18, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.’ Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?’”

This is exactly what happened! God sent an enormous flock of quail. This flock covered the whole camp and extended for miles on either side of it. God held the birds fluttering about three feet above the ground. All the Israelites had to do was reach out and pull them out of the sky! No one gathered less than 30 pounds of meat - that is a lot of quail!

But this wasn’t a reward for their whining, it was a consequence of it. While they were gorging themselves, unrestrained in their craving, they began to die. Verse 33 says, “but while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” Many people died and were buried there, all because they “yielded to intense craving” (verse 4 NKJV). When they moved on, they named that place Kibroth Hataavah - the graves of lust.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”

Everything that happened to the Israelites after the Exodus happened as a spiritual example for us. The things they went through are a picture of what we go through on our spiritual journey. Some of these examples are good to follow, more of them are warnings to avoid. This is one of those warning.

We all had things that we really liked to do while we were in the world. It could be drinking, it could be partying, it could be pornography - it could be anything. Before we received salvation, we were slaves to all kinds of sin. But when we were rescued by Jesus, we were delivered from the power those sins had over us. Now we no longer have to submit to it. However, now we have to diligently remove any trace of our old life from our new one.

Our flesh will still desire, or crave, the things we once did. Sin is so sneaky! It will convince you to remember all the fun you had when you behaved that way - all the while forgetting the bondage you were in and the freedom you longed for! It will pant thoughts like: “Do you remember all the fun you had?” “Don’t you remember how good those tasted?” “You know, before you were saved, you didn’t feel bad about doing that!” If you don’t respond properly, you’ll find this thing worming its way deeper inside.

Eventually, if you don’t stop that craving (that lust), you’ll have the opportunity to go back to it. But just like there were consequences for the Israelites, there will be consequences for gratifying that lust. Stay away from that “meat”!

How should we respond to these ungodly cravings? The same way the Israelites should have - by focusing on what you have, not what you don’t have! These people had their freedom! They had a promise! They were being supernaturally provided for! If they would’ve filled up on what God gave them, they wouldn’t have hungered for what they used to eat. Remember, manna is symbolic of God’s Word - our spiritual food from Heaven.’re answer to these cravings is to keep your nose inside the pages of your Bible.

Cut out those things in your life that are stirring up your lusts (like those Egyptians that were traveling with the Israelites) and replace their thoughts with what God’s word says! Whatever you do, never allow yourself to return to the things that held you in bondage!

Romans 6:16-18 “Don't you know that when you give yourselves to obey someone you become that person's slave? You can be slaves of sin. Then you will die. Or you can be slaves who obey God. Then you will live a godly life. You used to be slaves of sin. But thank God that with your whole heart you obeyed the teachings you were given! You have been set free from sin. You have become slaves to right living.”

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