Out Your Nose

So the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you. I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself. And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wailed in the hearing of the LORD, saying, ‘If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat not only 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 becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’ (Numbers 11:16-20)

Consistency is a good thing—unless you’re consistently wrong. The Israelites were consistent in how they responded to every crisis they faced: they blamed Moses, they blamed God, and they assumed the worst motives. When they faced a problem, the people of Israel always believed that there was no solution. They were certain that the only possible outcome was their miserable deaths.

God did not take kindly to their continuing ingratitude. He didn’t like the fact that they always assumed that his goal was to harm them. Pessimism was not the right attitude to have with God. But ever since the first two humans in the Garden of Eden assumed that God was holding out on them, that God didn’t have their best interests in mind, human beings have had a hard time trusting God to take care of them. The Israelites, like all of us, became natural pessimists at the first sign of pain.

And what did God do in the face of the Israelites’ bad attitude? He gave them exactly what they asked for. In fact, he gave them too much of a good thing: he gave them so much of what they asked for that they would finally get sick of it.

God will bless us, even more than we can imagine, and sometimes more than we want.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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