Psalm 78:21-33

21 Therefore the Lord heard and [h]was full of wrath;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob
And anger also mounted against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust in His salvation.
23 Yet He commanded the clouds above
And opened the doors of heaven;
24 He rained down manna upon them to eat
And gave them [i]food from heaven.
25 Man did eat the bread of [j]angels;
He sent them [k]food [l]in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens
And by His [m]power He directed the south wind.
27 When He rained [n]meat upon them like the dust,
Even winged fowl like the sand of the seas,
28 Then He let them fall in the midst of [o]their camp,
Round about their dwellings.
29 So they ate and were well filled,
And their desire He gave to them.
30 [p]Before they had satisfied their desire,
While their food was in their mouths,
31 The anger of God rose against them
And killed [q]some of their stoutest ones,
And [r]subdued the choice men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this they still sinned
And did not believe in His wonderful works.
33 So He brought their days to an end in [s]futility
And their years in sudden terror.

Again, for context, the previous passage would be helpful. Short version, God had just done miracles, multiple times, but people were complaining that they didn’t have meat. And so we begin this passage, where God was angry with them, but continued (or started) to send them manna to eat, and then rained down quail upon the camp for meat.

Maybe that should have been a clue, the fact that there were so many quail. When God gave them manna, it was always just enough. When they refused to be content, he sent this massive storm of quail “like the sand of the seas…” But naturally those who weren’t content with manna stuffed themselves with the meat, and many of them died as a result of God’s judgment.

As the psalmist notes, you’d think the Israelites would believe finally, that it would be the end of foolish rebellions, but it wasn’t. Truthfully, if it takes signs and wonders to “keep you in line”, you’re in bad shape. Yet that’s where the children of Israel found themselves, always looking for the next miracle, or falling back into bad habits, bickering, complaining, and questioning God’s plan.

Ultimately, all but a handful would die in the desert for their rebellion, and it the promised land would be given instead to their children. It’s the same place we can find ourselves though, complaining about how hard life is (and it is hard), and questioning God’s will.

If we aren’t careful, we give up our “promised land” and our children–or total strangers–will inherit it instead. When we focus so much on ourselves, God can’t work through us, and ultimately we’ll take ourselves right out of God’s plan. We don’t know, and often can’t see, what God has in store for us. But we need to trust that He has a good plan for us, even when life is difficult, even painful.

As Paul would write, God uses trials to work in our lives, and ultimately to bring hope and peace, and so much more. Don’t miss it! Don’t give up early and lose out on the good things God has in store for you. I’ll end simply with Paul’s exhortation to the Roman church:

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, [a]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and [b]we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but [c]we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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