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Gratitude and Ingratitude, Reaping What you Sow

When the Israelites fled Egypt in the Exodus, along with them came a throng of people who did not fully belong to the Israelite camp. Most modern translations refer to this group as the rabble, while the King James Version refers to them as the “mixt multitude (Numbers 11:4).” The Bible doesn’t say who they were, but it’s likely that they were either the children of Israelite mothers and Egyptian fathers. Or perhaps they may have been enslaved Egyptians who used the opportunity of the Exodus to free themselves from the constraints shackled upon them by their Egyptian masters. But whoever they were, when things began to get hard for the followers of Moses as they pressed through their exit, those people began to sow seeds of dissatisfaction.

Specifically, they began to complain about the provision that God had made for them with a substance called manna. God supernaturally supplied the camp with manna each morning to meet their daily nutritional needs. As they grew tired of the daily manna, the rabble began to hearken back to the meat and varieties of vegetables they had received while they were still slaves. They began to greedily crave or lust after the food they were given in Egypt. At one point they even made the statement that they received such a wonderful diversity of food at “no cost” to them, clearly ignoring the oppressive cost of slavery. What they were really sowing were seeds of ingratitude. They were neither thankful for their escape, nor the miraculous daily provision of food. This ingratitude began to grow and spread through the camp just as if they had sown it on fertile ground and weeded out the restraints that may have kept it from flourishing. And even more significant than sowing ingratitude, was their nurturing of the cravings and lusts for things that they did not have.

As you can imagine, this did not set well with God. Ultimately, he punished them by giving them more quail meat than they could consume. Just as they were about to succumb to gluttony, God struck with a plague those who had been nursing their cravings instead of cultivating thankfulness. Enough of the camp died and was buried that the event’s site was named “Graves of the Craving,” or in Hebrew, Kibroth-hattaavah (Numbers 11:34).

Be careful what seeds you sow among the people around you and in your own heart. But also be wary of what others may be sowing in the fields where you work. If you plant poison then you will harvest poison. Always keep an eye on the blessings you have been given, and promote in your heart an attitude of thankfulness for God’s provisions – whatever those turn out to be.

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