Read Psalm 78:26–31
They spoke against God.Psalm 78:19
On Coney Island every July 4, Nathan’s Famous sponsors their hot dog-eating contest. Last year, Joey Chestnut won his sixth straight title and was awarded $10,000 in prize money for finishing 68 dogs in ten minutes. It’s likely he took home a side order of stomachache.
A mouth crammed full of hot dogs and buns is an accurate visual for picturing what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness. (The story is told in fuller detail in Numbers 11:4–25.) The Israelites demanded food, doubting that God would be able to provide. But beyond their grumbling stomachs were symptoms of a much bigger faith problem. The food shortage is not the principal issue: it’s their failure to honor God. The Israelites willfully incriminate His character—to their ultimate demise.
As we’ve already seen God do before in our readings this month, He acted to punish their sin. Many lost their lives for this choice. Some of us might initially consider this sin less serious than blasphemy; it seems more like what we consider the minor indiscretion of complaining.
But complaining about our circumstances—and the shortages we face in the midst of them—can be an affront to the perfect character of God. Are we saying that He doesn’t care? That He doesn’t see? That He hasn’t chosen to intervene? That He can’t intervene? None of this is true: every part of creation is at His disposal to do His will. When they demanded meat, He provided it, bidding the wind to drive the birds into the camp. The Israelites had an astonishing supply of meat for a month.
Trials are like ready soil for disbelief: what is seeded as mere complaint against God might soon be reaped as total mistrust of Him.
Apply the Word
God uses different means to turn our hearts from their idolatrous loyalties. Sometimes He withholds what we so desperately want. This creates a greater desire for Him. Other times He gives us what we demand. But rather than this being the blessing we had imagined it would be, it becomes to us a curse. Better to be satisfied with Him from the beginning.
Pray with Us
Lift up in prayer our pastor. May his service represent Betel well, and may more people join God’s work at Betel through our pastors ministry.