There are many times in life when people wonder why things happen the way they do. There are other times when the response seems perfectly correct. And then there are other times when we don’t understand what is happening because we are in the middle of the situation. In Numbers 11 the Israelites begin a long series of grumblings against God. Specifically in this passage, they wanted to return to Egypt so they could have the food they were used to eating. They had an unholy desire to return to the little that they knew rather than accept the abundant blessings promised in an unknown future. God’s response is quick:
To the people you will say, ‘Make yourselves holy for tomorrow; then you will eat meat, for you’ve cried in the Lord’s hearing, “Who will give us meat to eat? It was better for us in Egypt.” The Lord will give you meat, and you will eat. You won’t eat for just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month until it comes out of your nostrils and nauseates you. You’ve rejected the Lord who’s been with you and you have cried before him, saying, “Why did we leave Egypt?” ’”
God responds with a punishment that perfectly fit the offense. They rejected God because of meat, therefore God will provide meat until they are sick of it. Of course this is the nature of sin. When we desire something other than God, or God’s good purposes in our lives, when we get what we desired it usually is not good and can cause us harm.
Nobody I know has ever had to eat meat until it came out of their noses, but I do see this very same unholy desire today. Our Western Culture wants stuff–money, possessions, homes, land, cars, and all the supposed security that comes with them. God has given us so much stuff that it comes out of our noses. Many people in our culture desire stuff so much that they will buy things they do not want with money they do not have to keep up with people they do not know. And it is destroying our families and our culture. Debt is still beyond control and fear of an unknown without our stuff propels many to work harder to secure more stuff.
This attitude began in the US after World War I. We had a corrective of the Great Depression, which took away most people’s stuff. Families had to work hard, not to accumulate stuff, but to survive. The children that grew up in this environment, though, went right back to the first mindset and decided that they would prove their love and support for their families by making sure their children had more stuff than they had growing up. This attitude continued through the Baby Boomers and into the adults of today. The Great Recession began to undo some of this attitude, but current polls and surveys show that adults in America today, for the most part, still are putting too much faith in their possessions and stuff than in God.
Our materialism is coming out of our noses, and we are exporting that attitude around the world. I do not look forward to God’s response to this unholy desire.