Two Fold Miracle of the Quails

Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:18‑31  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
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The twofold miracle of the quails1 is, in each case, perfectly in its place, and distinctly dated, and has its own proper moral character. Mr. N. is pleased to say, one shows unacquaintedness with the other. This kind of assertion is very worthy of the boldness of an infidel, but of no one else. An attack upon such a history as the scripture, taken second-hand from flippant German assertions (for such, I must say, they are), without really investigating the grounds of them, does not, I confess, shine, morally speaking, to my eyes. God has permitted, though they have done the best they can, that they should find difficulties (and they are obliged to rest in what is apparent-beneath the surface the conscience would be set at work); as to which the answer is certain and complete in the text (proving that they are superficial, and have not given themselves the trouble to examine the book they judge.) The dates of these two sendings of quails can be accurately ascertained, almost to a day. The only reason Mr. N. has for saying, that one shows un-acquaintance with the other, is that the circumstances of one are different from the other, proving they are not the same.
Quails were given before the giving of the law (Ex. 16), immediately after leaving Elim, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving Egypt. They stayed a year at Sinai, for the giving of the law, and constructing the tabernacle, &c. "And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up... and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran" (Numbers 10:1111And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony. (Numbers 10:11)) after three days' journey. (See ver. 33.) Then came the complaints, the judgment on which gave the name "Taberah" to the place; and immediately after, they stopped and pitched their tents at a place called, from the judgment that fell on them, Kibroth-hattaavah, "the graves of lust." This was their first station after leaving Sinai. We have thus clearly ascertained that a year and eight days, and possibly one or two more, elapsed from one of these events to the other. Their moral character is perfectly in keeping with the epoch at which they happened. If the reader examines the history, he will find that, from the Red Sea to Sinai, all is pure grace. They murmur-and it is said, they shall see the Lord's glory; and they get manna and quails without a reproach. They murmur-the rock is smitten, and they get water without a reproof. Conflict arises-they are made to feel their dependence; but the blessing is maintained, and the Lord is their banner- their conflicts are His.
At Sinai they undertake to obey, and to receive the blessing under the condition of their own obedience. They put themselves under law-fruit of that pride of heart which pretends to be able to satisfy God's requirements, and hence is willing to make its blessing depend on its own powers.
The proof is soon given of what the result must be. Before the law is brought down written, they have cast off God altogether. It is broken by them, and Moses breaks the tables.
Mediation comes in; so that they are yet borne with, put again under law, only that they are governed by patient goodness; and chastening and judicial government comes in-a principle which characterized their history up to the Babylonish captivity. Hence when they murmur again, despising the gracious provision of manna (of which the description is thereon again incidentally given2), and insist on meat, and persevere in eating it (though divine power, which they doubted, was shown in sending it, so that they ought to have been ashamed of their request), while thus gratifying their lust without shame, wrath comes upon them. That is, we see in the most distinct way, the difference of that grace shown in redemption and exercised towards the redeemed in their need, and the effects of proudly putting oneself under law, and finding, not the fruit of obedience, but the just consequence of those lusts which hinder our walking according to it.
Nothing can be more deeply instructive than the double giving of quails. Neither, without the other, would have given the instruction which the different events afford.
1. "Indeed, a fuller examination sheaved, in Exodus and Numbers, a twofold miracle of the quails, of which the latter is so told as to indicate entire unacquaintance with the former." (Phases, p. 134.)
2. ”There is a double description of the manna.” (Phases, p. 134)