Graves of Craving

Take some time to read Numbers 11 and Psalm 78:10-32. It records a time during the wilderness wanderings that Israel gave themselves up to intense craving (lust). Manna wasn’t good enough for them. They were not thankful for all that God had already done for them. They spoke of Egypt like it was a resort vacation spot, talking about how great they had it back there. “We want meat!”, they cried.

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!
(Numbers 11:4)

So God tells them, “Ok, I’ll give you meat…till it comes out your nostrils” (Numbers 11:20).

Then a wind from the LORD sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (GRAVES OF CRAVING), because there they buried the people who had the craving.
(Numbers 11:31-34)

This is a needed reminder from Scripture to help us see the power of cravings and what they can do to God’s people. What can it do to marriage? What can unrestrained lust do to all our relationships?

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
(Proverbs 6:23-29)

A whole bunch of people were buried in a place that was forever remembered as “Graves of Craving.” Just like Arlington National Cemetery, you know what that place means. At Arlington we commemorate the men and women who gave their lives for our country. At Kibroth-hattaavah (Graves of Craving), they commemorated those who gave themselves up to lust. We do not want to create a graveyard that memorializes how we destroyed ourselves and others because of our lusts and cravings.

As God’s men, we must be committed to conquering lust with the power of Jesus Christ and with the help of other godly men in our lives. Help and grace is always there at the throne of God because of Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
(Ephesians 5:1-11)

God Has Given Them Work To Do

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
(Ecclesiastes 2:26)

We all have work to do, whether we are righteous or wicked. God keeps us busy. But in the Scripture we see that God keeps the wicked busy preparing money and things that will in some way end up in the hands of righteous people. This is not to mean that we as God’s people sit around on our duffs and wait for God to take away money from others and give it to us. Nor is it to mean that because we are Christians we are going to be blessed with tons of money.

What it does mean is that God will take care of His people, and sometimes that means He takes care of His people by “transferring funds” from the wicked. How the Lord does that is up to Him, but we see lots of examples of this in Scripture.

What it also means is that the wicked think they are busy taking care of themselves and heaping up riches, but they are only busying themselves in vain. Their purpose in life is selfish and focused merely on getting more stuff. All that stuff eventually goes away, and it is through the merciful hand of God that He directs it toward caring for His children.

Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver.
(Job 27:16-17)

Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
(Proverbs 13:21-22)

Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
(Proverbs 28:8)

The Israelites walked out of Egypt with the wealth of the Egyptians. It looks like a lot of that wealth ended up being used to build the Tabernacle (Genesis 15:14; Exodus 12:35-36; 35:21-22). God’s house was built with the wealth of the Gentiles (compare with Isaiah 60:5,11). Moses’ mother, Jochebed, was paid wages from Pharaoh’s house to nurse her own son (Exodus 2:1-10).

Let’s end with two more passages, one from Deuteronomy and one from the Psalms. Why did God pour out the wealth of the Gentiles upon Israel? Look at the following passages.

He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations, that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 105:43-45)

Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest–when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end–then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 8:11-20)

Let’s not forget our purpose! Let’s not forget why God put us on our earth. If we are busy, let’s remember God in the busy-ness! Otherwise, we are just busy heaping up stuff that will go to someone else.

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died (Numbers 21:4-6).

God provided manna, bread from heaven, for the children of Israel. Every day was a miracle. Their food was miraculously provided for 40 years. Do the math. 6 days a week (extra manna provided on Friday for the Sabbath day) for 40 years. That’s a myriad miracles, and a gazillion tons of manna. They called it “worthless.” On top of that they said, “our soul loathes” it.

I was reading 1 Corinthians 10 yesterday where Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians about the Israelites in the wilderness. The sins they committed were recorded for us as examples, Paul explained, so that we do not repeat them. One of those sins Paul specified was complaining.

It just reminded me of how serious God takes complaining. If you haven’t done this lately, look through the Bible and do some word searches for words like grumbling, murmuring and complaining. See what God says about it. Look at the consequences. Lots of people died at God’s own hand because of it.

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

So, here we are, living under Christ, walking in His grace, and Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 to remember how God views complaining. It is still a serious thing to God, just as serious as sexual immorality and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). Sometimes we are tempted to think that the big sins are sexual immorality and murder, but complaining is just a little sin. We would be well served to take a walk through Exodus through Deuteronomy with the children of Israel to refresh our memories of God’s view of complaining.

Today, let us take a moment to thank God.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

If we recognize that we are living an ungrateful life, and have a complaining spirit, we should get down on our knees and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. We also should ask the Lord to teach us to be more thankful. May God help our hearts to be content, and may our words express that daily. It is helpful for us to take regular inventory of how richly God has blessed us. That old song still rings true, “Count your many blessings.”

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).