I haven’t seen any quails yet in the wild. I have seen beautiful photos of wild quails. My experiences with quails are just those peddled in the market or school and that of eating quail eggs peddled by vendors when you’re traveling to the provinces. But there’s an interesting lesson that I just learned yesterday in my Bible reading. I encountered quails in Numbers 11.
(Image from http://thegardentower.blogspot.com/)
Human beings are hardwired discontented creatures. Contentment is something that should be learned. It is something acquired. It is not served in a silver platter. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).”
The Israelites of the Old Testament were a bunch grumbling folks. In Numbers 11:4-6, they were craving and complaining for meat. They were too tired to eat manna. They were too fed up to taste another meal made out of manna. If they were Filipinos, they would have said, “Manna na naman!”
The attitudes of the Israelites had the Lord exceedingly angry and had Moses deeply troubled (Numbers 11:10). After praying, God told Moses that he will give what the people want. Moses declared to the people, “Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you (vs. 18-20).”
Moses, however, wondered how can 600,000 men on foot be provided with meat. In verse 23, the LORD answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”
In the succeeding verse, a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. The quails are scattered up to almost 36 inches deep all around the camp. For about 48 hours, the people went out and gathered quails. No one gathered less than 2,200 liters. Seems to be real good news BUT “while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague (vs. 33).” Those who had craved other food were buried by the people who were spared from the plague.
What’s my personal insight in Numbers 11? First of all, my insights are based on my observation of what is simply indicated in Scripture.
1. God is already actively providing food for the Israelites and yet they complained that it wasn’t enough and satisfying.
2. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows exactly what we need at a given time. Even if we desire something and keep on praying for it, it may not be right for us to have that thing or the thing is right for us but it is not yet the right time.
3. This leads me to the third point. A blessing can turn into a curse or something that will destroy us. There seems to be nothing wrong with meat cravings but the attitude of the people mattered. They were ungrateful and full of discontentment. Even if God was there in their midst, His presence was less of a concern. If satisfying the appetite is more important to you then there’s something wrong. Further, upon seeing the abundance of quails, the people in their greed hoarded. Each individual took more than what they need. Imagine taking more 2,200 liters of meat for yourself. No wonder God was so angry with them.
4. What we desire can be idols in our heart and God abhors idolatry. Idols are not just those tangible sculptural works. These could be anything that displaces God in our hearts. In the case of the Israelites, it is food. They made a god out of their appetites. Work, hobby, family can be or can become idols if they become first and foremost in our lives.
So the next time you see a quail or even its egg, at least, ask yourself if you are grateful for everything that you receive from the Lord.