“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,