And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.
Numbers 10 described to us how the Israelite camp moved. When God’s presence, manifest in the pillar of cloud or of fire, moved from the tabernacle, the camp would pack up and move out, following the leadership of the Lord. When the cloud or pillar of fire would return to the tabernacle, the people would camp in that one place.
Isn’t it interesting, then, that chapter 11 opens with a statement that the people of God complained of their misfortunes? They could look up and see the Lord. They could see the pillar of fire or cloud that manifest the presence of God. They knew God was there. Yet, this still did not keep them from complaining about their food, the food that God was supernaturally providing them out of thin air.
How many times do people act as though they would never complain if only God would show himself to them? How many times do people say that they would be satisfied if God would only show them a glimpse of his power or presence? How foolish we are. The heart of man is rebellious in its very nature. We are all the kind of people who would complain in the face of miracles.
Praise be to God, we will not always be like the people in the desert. There will come a day when God puts an end to our sinfulness. There will come a day when our sanctification will be complete. It will not be during this lifetime, but it will come. And when that day comes, we will be free from the murmuring and complaining that so often marks our present lives. We will see God for who he is. We will praise him in is profound, soul-satisfying glory. We will worship the Lord, and we will be thrilled in his presence forever. As John prayed at the end of the Bible, so we should pray this day, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”