Longing for the Wrong Thing

Numbers 11:19-20
“19You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20but 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?'”

Numbers 11 details a horrendous story of dissatisfaction, rebellion, and judgment. One part which stands out is encapsulated in verses 19-20 which I’ve quoted above and it’s this: judgment is God giving people what they want. The Israelites complain that they have no meat and so God says, “Fine, since you aren’t satisfied with what I’ve provided, I will give you what your wicked hearts want.” This shows us three things:

  1. Our natural impulses are wicked.
  2. It’s God’s mercy that He doesn’t give us what we want.
  3. If you bother God long enough, eventually He will give you what you want.

Another passage which shows this explicitly is Romans 1:24-32 where Paul says that God “gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” They had these unceasing, evil inclinations and so, in judgment, God allowed their wicked desires to consume them. And so He will do the same to us if we continually long for satisfaction in things other than Himself.

How then can we be satisfied with God? It is so much easier to indulge ourselves with the things which present right in front of us and can be consumed immediately. God is immaterial and ethereal and therefore inaccessible. Things like relationships, money, and success are very accessible. How are we to be satisfied with God so as not to idolize the things of this world?

What did God send the Israelites which dissatisfied them? Manna. In John 6:41 Jesus says “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” When the Israelites refused to be satisfied with the manna, they refused to be satisfied with God. When we refuse to be satisfied with Christ, we refuse to be satisfied with God. If we continue in that, then God will do the worst thing for us: give us what we want.

So how can we find our ultimate satisfaction in God? Let me offer three ways to be satisfied with God because He has sent us the bread from heaven – Christ:

  1. Don’t despise your salvation. In Numbers 11, the Israelites show contempt to God because He delivered them from Egypt. They are cursing God for saving them from slavery. Our feet may slip into the same trap if we aren’t circumspect. We must engage our minds in seeking out the treasure of the salvation God has brought to us. The Good News has many aspects such as deliverance, substitution, propitiation, and adoption. Look into all the many facets of what God has done for you in Christ Jesus. Meditate on and savor the gospel at all times lest your heart be lured away to another god and you begin to despise your salvation.
  2. Remember what He has saved you from. The Israelites failed to remember what God had saved them from. In this passage, all they can think about is the fact that they got to have meat and other good food while in Egypt. They forgot how awful slavery was – being worked to death, whipped, beaten, and trampled upon. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to long for the things you used to have when in slavery to sin (pride, envy, sexual immorality, etc.). But remember, Christ has defeated death and liberated you from slavery to sin and death. You’re not under the authority of those old taskmasters anymore, you’re a bondservant of Christ. Walk in it.
  3. Remember what He has saved you into. The Israelites failed not only to be grateful for rescue from bondage, but they also failed to see where God was taking them: the Promised Land. Though they currently only had bland manna to eat, God was relocating them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Remember what Christ has saved you from and then think also of what He has saved you into! He has repaired your relationship with God and you have eternity in God’s embrace on the horizon. Take a moment to read Revelation 21-22 and remind yourself of what’s to come. All that’s bad will cease to exist and God will be your joy, delight, and treasure in the new heavens and new earth.

This post really embodies what I want you to get out of this blog: an unquenchable longing for God. If you long for Him, you’ll be satisfied – Jesus promised (John 7:37). So if you are finding yourself distant from God, take a moment to pray and renew your commitment to Him by remembering all that He’s done for you. It’s not about working harder, it’s about knowing Christ better. So drink of the living water and consume the bread from heaven.

For His glory and fame,
Dustin

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