Reluctant to leave the refreshing of Elim, Israel traveled to the Wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Sinai. Arriving on the fifteenth day of the second month, thirty days since they left Egypt, the oasis of Elim seemed a faint memory.
Hungry, weak and irrational, they complained, longing for the days of slavery. At least in Egypt there was enough food. (Exodus 16:1-3)
Was hunger really worse than slavery?
Without God, maybe, but sadly in only thirty days of travel, Israel had become so accustomed to seeing the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire, they forgot the King of the Universe was present. Hunger pangs cramped their stomachs, blinded their eyes, confused and muted their senses, making the dreaded oppression of slavery better in comparison.
No, I don’t mean starvation and slavery.
I remember, when I was a child I absolutely hated to do dishes. However, one day when I had to pick beans in the garden, under the bright sun I got so hot and tired, doing dishes seemed much better. I attempted to bargain with my parents to wash every dish in the house, if I just didn’t have to pick beans anymore. Of course, it didn’t work. The fact was I hated both jobs equally, but the one I was doing at the time appeared so much worse.
Is it possible the children of Israel fell for the same type of illusion?
With muddled thoughts, they imagined their lives in Egypt as better than what they were now experiencing. However, in the midst of the loathsome slavery, Israel had cried to Jehovah for deliverance and He sent Moses. If Egypt were as good as they seem to remember, with plenty of bread and pots full of meat, then why did they want out?
Privileged to witness God’s powerful miracles and amazing provision, after just thirty days of freedom, Israel is already looking back to their old lives. Because of hunger, they could not see beyond these present circumstances nor could they understand Egypt represented a place without God. It was the site of unbelief and slavery to sin. Did they really want to return?
Sometimes in the midst of trials, we too have fuzzy memories, imagining life was easier before we knew Jesus. We look back and desire our old life. Fooled and deceived as much as Israel, we do not realize we’ll be returning to slavery, bondage, and a sinful life apart from Christ.
Jesus said, “No one having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God”. (Luke 9:62)
Can we snap out of it and escape? Will Israel? Yes, but only if we fully trust God.