Quail carcasses everywhere. A day’s walk in any direction …3 feet of quail corpses as far as the eye can see.
Envision it. See it in your mind’s eye till you start to smell the sea of meat …hold it fast in your imagination till you can practically feel the wilting feathers being pressed underfoot and rising above your knee.
How’d we get here? Why this plague of meat?
It all started with wretched whining, gross discontent, and an unrelenting lust for lovers so less wild than God.
Here’s what happened: The people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes. Now, first of all, isn’t everything ever uttered heard by God? Is there anything said (or thought for that matter) that God doesn’t overhear? The phrase “the people complained in the hearing of the Lord” means they brazenly complained. In other words, there was no holy tremblance or contrition in their conversation with God. The people flagrantly defy God and protest Him with an unrelenting commitment to treason. They willfully harbor a tenacious craving to always remain committed to their addiction to distrust God and lean on their own understanding. This devotion to defying The Divine is dramatically evidenced in the fact that immediately after receiving a loving lambaste from God (see Numbers 11:1-3), the people promptly promise to persist in their plans to maintain their commitment to their pernicious cravings and addictions to pride. In no uncertain terms the people strive to relationally wound God …they crusade to defame the glory of God, and they devote themselves to discrediting His mercy. They say, “Egypt is a better lover than You! …Adultery is our aim! …The chief end of our life is flagrant defiance of Yahweh in favor of a liaison with Egypt!” It’s the inverse of Simeon’s obsession (see Luke 2:25-32) …the people are living only for a fling with lovers so less wild than God, and then they’d be content to die. All they want in life is to leave God in favor of this short-lived illicit liaison. While God has visibly and tangibly testified to His fidelity and affection for His people – ordaining manna as His emblem of marriage (sweet, mundane, and nourishing), nevertheless the people strove and brawled in their determination to be discontent with the grace and mercy of God.
The people situate and settle themselves in the empty argument that ‘if only God would give us meat, then we’d be content.’ Essentially God’s response to this is to say, ‘we both know that your heart is set on adultery, and you’re unwavering in your resolve to stay on the trajectory of Pharaoh [who ranks second only to Satan in his determination to distrust and defy God …so dramatically entrenched in is defiance that he watched his entire country collapse under the weight of God’s plagues rather than relent!].’ God says, ‘get ready, for tomorrow I am sending you a plague of quail – it will be a vast and irrefutable display of death …and you will have the opportunity to render your final answer on the matter. The critical question being: is your satanic craving so strong that you will choose to receive unto yourselves certain death? I will flood your land with what your flesh craves …will you really be resolved to consume that which will surely kill you? Would you actually commit to your addiction to the extent that you’d attempt to devour more than a month’s worth of meat in a moment; becoming so desensitized to your deadly desires that you wouldn’t stop even if it began to come out of your nostrils?
So we’re back to where we started. An ocean of Quail carcasses. A day’s walk in any direction …3 feet of quail corpses as far as the eye can see. Will the people be repulsed, OR will they rush headlong into certain death?
Here’s what happens: 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 (Numbers 11:32).
Let’s make sure we’re clear on this …God asks the people, ‘Do you WANT to die!?’ And the people respond by falling to the dirt, clawing and thrashing at the ground – dementedly bent on digging their own graves. There is no question about where their devotion lies when people throw themselves into something so fanatically – all day and all night and all the next day! …gathering and grabbing with unabashed desperation …spreading the thing they’ve obsessively gathered all throughout their community (making it impossible for anyone to go anywhere without being bombarded by it).
So – having made their decision – God gives them over to it, “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.