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Longing For The Fleshpots — Exodus 16

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

To die beside the fleshpots, a belly filled and an appetite satiated. To have died by the hand of God in Egypt, to have been counted among the firstborn of Egypt, snuffed out in a single night by the judgment of the Lord.  If death is certain to come upon us, the Hebrews reasoned, then why could we not have died in the Land of Egypt? What is it about the comforts of this life and the enticement of sin that can cause a soul delivered from its bondage to long for it once again? What is it about the fleshpots that can so beguile us into a willingness to prefer them over the manna that God intends for us?

When things become tough in our Christian walk, especially early on in that walk, the tendency to romanticize what we “enjoyed” apart from Christ can cause us to take our hand from the plow and look back (cf. Luke 9:62). We yearn for what we had before, forgetting that it wasn’t really much in the first place! And so the insidious deception of sin rears its ugly head, promising that which it cannot deliver, speaking of comfort when all it can bring is suffering.

The Children of Israel did eat from the fleshpots of Egypt, they did eat bread to the full. But they did so in bondage. They fed their bellies under the watchful eye of cruel taskmasters, they ate to fullness as slaves trapped in perpetual servitude to a wicked people. When the Christian longs for the sin that he once practiced, he, too, forgets that he was in bondage to that sin. The remembrance of those old habits omits the fact that a heavy price was required of us when we served such things and that their ultimate compensation was death.

Perhaps worst of all for the child of God who does return for a season to the sin which once held such power over him is that the sin no longer satisfies as it once did. For we find that God has changed our appetites, He has altered our tastes for the things of this world. The fleshpots upon which we used to dine can no longer bring the contentment they once did, the bread of this world can no longer fill our stomachs. Once we have tasted of that spiritual food that God alone can provide, no other sustenance can nourish us.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

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6 responses

  1. Thanks Loren

    Great post and many poignant questions. Sadly, sometimes we have to feel to learn.

    “Once we have tasted of that spiritual food that God alone can provide, no other sustenance can nourish us”
    I am wondering out loud if that’s how the Israelites felt when the first tasted the miracle food? …Funny how we seem to prefer to ‘fill’ ourselves up on what’s not important and temporary even though we feast in bondage…. Talk about empty calories!

    I could ask how they could second-guess the hand of the Deliverer, but I can only cast stones if there’s nothing written about me in the sand…

    Praying we will seek Him “who is able to destroy both flesh and spirit” and leave the fleshpots alone. Seeking self-gratification has never worked well for us. When, oh when will we learn?

    Thanks for the provoking piece and the piercing questions.
    .
    Blessings,
    ann

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  2. There is so much in this for me! Thank you, Loren. These shorter frequent posts are feeding me the good stuff. I am hanging onto that truth . . .that the old ways and sins cannot satisfy me now. So there is really no need to even go there. :) God bless you and all that He is doing here through your faithful service!

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  3. Awesome reflections, Ann, thank you so much :)

    That is something to consider, isn’t it? Can you imagine what they felt with that very first bite of Manna? And to think that in a moment of weakness they were willing to give it all up for the fleshpots! How many times in our own walk do we become discouraged, only able to think of the fleshpots on which we used to dine, and then we remember the Manna! You’re right, we can’t cast stones against them when we have been guilty of the same things. Lord have mercy on us all and help us to always keep our eyes on the Food that truly nourishes us :)

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  4. Thank you so much, Deb :)

    I’m sure glad you’re enjoying the shorter more frequent posts. There is so much for us to see in these passages; the Lord has really filled them up with the good stuff! I have to laugh sometimes when I am preparing these posts, prayerfully considering which verses to comment on. We could literally spend two or three months in this chapter alone and still not even really scratch the surface. And to think I used to skip over entire sections of the Old Testament like this in my own Bible reading! I can’t wait to sit at His feet someday as He opens our eyes to see EVERYTHING from His awesome Word :)

    So happy to be going through the Bible with you, Deb, and learning from what God is showing you; what a privilege and honor.

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  5. Thanks for your post about the “fleshpots”. I had a dream (which I felt was from God) the other night…that I was in a typical American church…and they had some kind of big splashy sign near the entrance to the sanctuary that said “Ask us about our flesh pots!” Just like we would normally see a sign like “Ask us about our discipleship groups!” or some similar invitation to spiritual growth activities. (“Flesh pots” is not in my NIV Bible, but I found it in a King James version.)

    When I woke up, I thought the dream was about the worldliness that abounds in our churches, even the evangelical churches in America…and how we have no shame to promote all sorts of activities that are kind of like those in the world, but with a spiritual veneer…so its ok.

    Not obvious stuff like promoting promiscuity or going to strip clubs…but more like things that appeal to the flesh like potlucks and Easter Egg Hunts and Harvest Festivals (as Halloween alternative). For instance, my wife is trying to follow the Lord in what she feels are his directions to fast and pray for several days in a row…but every church function and home bible study we attend ends up having yummy food or dessert served at it!!! Makes obedience in this area very difficult!

    I’m not saying those things (potlucks, etc.) are bad…but sometimes it seems like we are working too hard (i.e. in the flesh) to please and entice people into “accepting” Christ…or make spiritual disciples like bible study more enjoyable with food, etc….when we should be more on our knees in intercession for our churches, communities, and world…asking God to bring about repentance and conviction that no amount of special recipes will produce!

    Anyway…thanks for your post…which gave me some post-dream clarity on what God might have meant by that weird dream.

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  6. You’re absolutely right about the focus in many of our churches today. I wrote an article a while back about the “seeker-friendly” approach that a lot of groups have begun taking in recent years:

    https://answersfromthebook.org/2010/04/18/the-meat-that-endureth/

    And I really gotta agree with you about the whole focus on food! Seems like just about every church function revolves around eating…and usually not the healthiest of dishes either. I bet your wife does have a hard time trying to fast and attend church functions.

    Thanks for sharing your story with me; glad you found this article helpful. May the Lord bless you greatly :)

    Loren

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