First, note that these people, spiritually, were so far from God that they did not take the first warning, the burning that took place on the outskirts of the camp (Numbers 11:1). It was just a little thing from God to say, "Hey, wait a minute. You need Me. I am giving you the manna, and if it was not for that, you would die. Not only that, I was the One who gave you freedom." But how quickly they were forgetting.
What is the lesson here? They wanted variety; they felt they were leading a monotonous life. The Bible records no particular occasion for the beginning of their complaint except that they were bored with what they had to eat. Their words express dissatisfaction with privations incurred on their journey through the wilderness.
We are to learn from that. It is the Old Testament's form of whether or not we are willing to bear our cross—whatever comes upon us as a result of our repentance, our baptism, our receipt of God's Spirit, our entering into the covenant with Jesus Christ, and being His slave! Are we really willing to be His slaves and take what He dishes out?
What they wanted was food that had a sharper, more distinctive flavor, something more stimulating than manna, which tasted like pastry. They wanted cayenne powder, hot sauce, onions, garlic, spice. They wanted sauces and herbs for flavor that add a dimension to eating that otherwise would not be there.
It is interesting how quickly our taste can become perverted. Many people, for instance, put far too much salt on the foods they eat. Observe this the next time you are in a restaurant: There is a good chance that you will see diners pick up the salt and pepper shakers and shake them over their meals before they even taste the food. It is an ingrained habit, and their taste has become perverted.
That is what happened to the Israelites. They did not comprehend that God was feeding them angel's food, as He calls it in Psalm 78:25, the best possible diet they could get in their circumstance. Would we expect God to supply anything less than the best for the situation? Because He is a God of love, He will always do the best for us in every circumstance.
He was doing that for Israel, but their taste was perverted and so they were unwilling to be content with what God was supplying. Therein lies the lesson for us. Are we content with what God is supplying, or are we looking for stimulation that Christianity seems to lack? Are we looking for an edge? Are we craving flavor in our lives? Are we looking for something out of life in the way of entertainments or social contacts that we feel we are being denied because we are Christians? Do we feel this "privation" is a cross we are unwilling to bear? The lesson from these people is, if such a desire begins to gnaw at us, there is a chance we will give in to intense craving and begin complaining to God.
— John W. Ritenbaugh