The people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD. Numbers 11:1 (NIV)
Today we begin the story of Korah, who of all the characters we’ve looked at so far, is the one who took the most dramatic plunge to disaster. We will meet Korah later, but today we will try to understand the climate among God’s people.
After Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt, it took three months to get to Mount Sinai, and they were stuck there for almost a year. The people spent seven months making the tabernacle and training the priests for their work. By this time, they’d been in the desert for over a year. But they were no closer to entering the land of Canaan, and no closer to the freedom and prosperity that had been promised to them.
Now at last they were moving (10:12). Imagine two million people moving at the pace of the slowest. What must it have been like to travel through a desert with two million people? Anyone who has worked in a large company has an idea. Why does everything have to be so difficult? And then it began to happen: “The people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord” (11:1).
The people also began to crave other food 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!” (11:4-6).
Isn’t it amazing how trouble comes in bunches? When Moses comes home at night and wants to relax in his tent, he can’t because he has to deal with his own family: “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife” (12:1)! They don’t think Moses should have married her. They don’t want anything to do with her, and Moses is in the middle.
Can you relate to some of these problems?