Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
There’s nothing inherently evil about these pilgrims longing for fish and vegetables and spices. After all, who among us would choose to only eat honeyed wafers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all year long? God created our tastebuds. He created the natural world as a buffet for our enjoyment (think of the Garden of Eden), meaning that He delights to feed us with good food. In fact, He even incentivized these pilgrims to follow Him to the Promised Land by whetting their appetites with visions of a fertile land flowing with milk and honey. So, it isn’t their desire for more flavor that makes God fume here, but their deep-seeded discontentment in His presence—the daily bread they need most.
“We remember the fish and cucumbers and leeks,” they say, because their hindsight has become warped by covetousness. Even back in Egypt, when they had leeks in abundance, they weren’t content, were they? They groaned for liberation. But now that God is in the very process of leading them to the Promised Land, having already given the liberation they desired, they want their leeks back. “And it cost us nothing!” they add. Oh really? Nothing?! Why are there stripes all over your back from brutal beatings? Why are your hands and arms calloused from building Pharaoh’s kingdom? “Now there’s nothing at all but this manna to look at!”, they conclude. Nothing at all to look at? Isn’t there a tent of meeting at the center of the commonwealth and a pillar of God’s presence hovering over your midst and tribal banners on your tents that proclaim your victory over Pharoah and free, daily bread that gives you precisely the sustenance you need for the journey?
Look around, friend! Resolve to taste and see that the LORD is good to you! Hunger and thirst more for the Kingdom of Christ that lies ahead of you than the Egypts that lie buried behind you.