Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a


Chapter 24—The Quails

God continued to feed the Hebrew host with the bread rained from Heaven; but they were not satisfied. Their depraved appetites craved meat, which God in his wisdom had withheld, in a great measure, from them. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel also wept again, and 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.” They became weary of the food prepared for them by angels, and sent them from Heaven. They knew it was just the food God wished them to have, and that it was healthful for them and their children. Notwithstanding their hardships in the wilderness, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes. Satan, the author of disease and misery, will approach God's people where he can have the greatest success. He has controlled the appetite in a great measure from the time of his successful experiment with Eve, in leading her to eat the forbidden fruit. He came with his temptations first to the mixed multitude, the believing Egyptians, and stirred them up to seditious murmurings. They would not be content with the healthful food which God had provided for them. Their depraved appetites craved a greater variety, especially flesh meats. 4aSG 15.1

This murmuring soon infected nearly the whole body of the people. At first, God did not gratify their lustful appetites, but caused his judgments to come upon them, and consumed the most guilty by lightning from Heaven. Yet this, instead of humbling, only seemed to increase their murmurings. When Moses heard the people weeping in the door of their tents, and complaining throughout their families, he was displeased. He presented before the Lord the difficulties of his situation, and the unsubmissive spirit of the Israelites, and the position in which God had placed him to the people, that of a nursing father, who should make the sufferings of the people his own. He inquired of the Lord how he could bear this great burden of continually witnessing the disobedience of Israel, and hearing their murmurings against his commands, and against God himself. He declared before the Lord that he had rather die than see Israel, by their perverseness, drawing down judgments upon themselves, while the enemies of God were rejoicing in their destruction. In his distress he said, I am not able to bear all this responsibility alone, because it is too heavy for me. 4aSG 16.1

The Lord directed Moses to gather before him seventy of the elders, whom he knew to be the elders of the people. They were not to be those only in advanced years, but men of dignity, sound judgment, and experience, who were qualified to be judges, or officers. “And bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, and ye shall eat flesh; for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt; therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt? And Moses said, The people among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them? And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” 4aSG 16.2

Moses himself showed a manifest distrust of the power of God, for which the Lord rebuked him. By this question of the Lord to Moses, he was made to understand that nothing was impossible with the great Ruler of the universe. He reproved Moses for his forgetfulness of his miracles. He who could divide the Red Sea, and bind the waters that they were like a wall on either side of Israel, as they passed through on dry land, and could rain them bread from Heaven, and bring them water out of the flinty rock, could provide meat to supply the host of Israel. 4aSG 17.1

“And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that when the spirit rested upon them they prophesied, and did not cease.” This prophetic gift rested upon the judges and elders to establish the confidence of the people in them, and to be a sign that God had chosen them to unite their authority with Moses, and assist him in the work of subduing the murmurings of the people during their sojourn in the wilderness, and thus ease the task upon Moses. 4aSG 17.2

“And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and, as it were, two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails. He that gathered least gathered ten homers, and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” 4aSG 17.3

In this instance the Lord gave the people that which was not for their best good, because they would have it. They would not submit to receive from the Lord those things which would prove for their good. They gave themselves up to seditious murmurings against Moses, and against the Lord, because they did not receive those things which would prove an injury to them. Their depraved appetites controlled them, and God gave them flesh meats, as they desired, and he let them suffer the results of gratifying their lustful appetites. Burning fevers cut down very large numbers of the people. Those who had been most guilty in their murmurings were slain as soon as they tasted the meat for which they had lusted. If they had submitted to have the Lord select their food for them, and had been thankful, and satisfied for food which they could eat freely of without injury, they would not have lost the favor of God, and then been punished for their rebellious murmurings, by great numbers of them being slain. 4aSG 18.1