One of the great problems with the children of Israel during Moses’ generation was their inability to look to the past miracles and protections the Lord had granted them. They did look back, but their looking back was second cousin to their looking forward at the ten spies’ report. It didn’t seem to matter how many times God brought water from the rock, or split the Red Sea, or humbled Pharaoh, or fed them with manna—it was never enough. All they saw looking backward was the easier life in Egypt, and Egypt’s “fish, [and] the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick” (Numbers 11:5). Never mind that that life had been one of bondage and toil. To the Israelites, it was at least a more secure life than following Moses through a barren wilderness.
Given the choice of freedom with faith or bondage with security, they could not get their eyes off the fleshpots of the past. Yet there were many other memories they could have turned to that would have created the needed hope. Ultimately, the Lord must ask Himself and Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?” (Numbers 14:11).