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And the children of Israel also wept again, and said, ‘Who shall give us flesh to eat.’” Numbers 11:4b.

Having brought His people—the people of Israel—out of the land of Egypt, the Lord led them into the wilderness of Sinai. It was, to be sure, a terrible wil­derness, wherein were firey serpents, and scorpions, and drought, and where there was no water, Deut. 7:15. But the Lord did a new thing. In the words of the sacred writer at Deut. 32:10, He made a way for His people through the wilderness. He led them about, kept them as the apple of His eye, spread abroad over them His wings, took them, bore them upon His wings. This imagery sets forth the Lord’s special and tender care over His people on their marches through that wilderness. There was the pil­lar of cloud—the Lord’s wings—that shielded them from the burning heat of the sun. The beams of the sun therefore did not blind their eyes, blister their skin, and parch their mouth. They toiled not on, half senseless of the heat. They were miraculously kept in sound health on the way. Their foot did not swell and their raiment waxed not old upon them, Deut. 8:4. The Lord fed them with manna from heaven and quenched their thirst with water fetched them from the rocks of the desert. The Lord knew their frame; He remembered that they were dust. He pitied them as a father. Going before them, He sent them plentiful rain, and thus confirmed His inherit­ance, when it was weary, Ps. 68. What a beautiful picture of the Lord’s spiritual care of His church in this world.

The people of Israel were not thankful. Continu­ally did they provoke the Lord by their murmur ings. On one occasion, not so long after the departure from Egypt, the mixed multitude among them went to lusting after flesh. They wept aloud, and as they wept they said, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic; but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all besides this manna be­fore our eyes.” Their disease of impatience was contagious. Ere long the whole camp gave way to weeping.

So did they despise the manna and cry for the fleshpots of Egypt. In doing so, those Israelites com­mitted a heinous sin. If we are to have understanding of this, we must have regard to the manna that was despised and loathed. First the purpose of its being sent, This is set forth in Deut. 8:3, in the fol­lowing words. “And he fed thee with the manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee to know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God does man live.” The teach­ing here set forth is that man’s true life is not natural bread but every word or out going of God’s mouth, which is Christ. It was with a view to preparing the church for the revelation and reception of this truth that the Lord fed the people of Israel with man­na—the bread from heaven—during the period of their residence in the wilderness. This doing of God, His suffering the people of Israel to hunger and His feeding them with manna—demonstrates, wonderful­ly well, that man lives not by bread but by every outgoing of God’s mouth, thus lives by God’s word, which is Christ.