Have you ever wanted something bad enough you could taste it? Of course that is just an expression but most of us have had that sense of overwhelming desire for something. Most of us are passionate creatures who over time have learned proper social graces to cover up the tantrums that we once had as three year olds. You remember, before you were taught how to control the expression of your desires, you would throw your entire passion into your demands for what you wanted?
There are things that our bodies, hearts, and minds crave that require us to use a great deal of self discipline to deny ourselves. Sometimes it can be as simple as friendship. Not all friendship is good for us. We realize that certain people could lead us to our destruction, so even if we find ourselves attracted to them we deny our need for friendship in order to preserve our life. This takes maturity and sometimes bad experiences to learn.
There are other examples that are clearer for us, such as cheating or stealing to get what we want. There is a whole list of things that the Apostle Paul gives when he says that we were once like that but now we have been changed and we live with a different purpose. Understanding and remembering that purpose helps us to avoid being attracted back to what we once were. It is not awlays easy, especially if we have allowed ourselves to become spiritually weak. This happens when we neglect spiritual things such as Bible Study, like-minded friends, worhsip and prayer. Then we find the pull of these things becoming stronger and we spend more time thinking about them.
In today's reading we find a new nation in this circumstance. In Numbers 11 we find people thinking back to their days in Egypt, when they had more to eat than just Manna. Look carefully at their words:
The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
Due to their stomachs they lost sight of where they were going, could only consider the immediate moment, and started desiring what once they had. It is at this moment that the former things begin to look better than they were. Old times seem so much better than the reality of what they were. Things we experienced seem to become even better. Look at this: "... we ate in Egypt at no cost ..." Are they kidding? They ate those things at the cost of slavery. They ate those things at the cost of back breaking work as they laboured under the whip of their task master. This is how sin is with us as well.
Sin is always attractive. Even if we have learned not to through tantrums to get what we want, we still experience attraction to sin, especially when we are weak. We do not consider the cost of having what we crave. The reason we set aside the cost is because we do not consider that we will seriously possess it. We allow ourselves to think about it with no real hope of having it. It becomes a fantasy that we never hope to have. But that begins to shape us, the way we see things, how we act. Before long opportunities start presenting themselves. The full desire is there without thought to the cost.
The fact is, if we really want to go back to Egypt God will not stop us. If we really want to go back to slavery God will not stop us. If we really want to be possessed by sin again God will not prevent it. He has provided the way out. He is providing for us today. He completely loves us. However, just like the father of the prodical son, he will not stop us if we are determined. He has given us freedom of choice.
Beware! You can possess what you desire but what you desire can also possess you. Make the desire of your heart Jesus Christ every single day of your life and you will never find yourself desiring to go back to Egypt. Remember the cost.