“Praise the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever”. Psalm 106:1
The Collins English Dictionary (12th Ed.) define gratitude as “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favors. [C16: from Medieval Latin grātitūdō, from Latin grātus grateful]”.
The most common modern Hebrew expression for being grateful is HaKarat HaTov, which precisely means ‘Recognizing the Good.’ or “noticing the good ” often translated as gratitude. The expression Hakarat HaTov does not exist in Biblical Hebrew. The term for thanksgiving/gratitude is Hodah/Todah/Hoda’ah/Modeh, all from the root letters of the word Vov, Daled, Hei. What is impressive is that this root word means thanksgiving and also to acknowledge, to admit.
Certainly, unending thanksgiving should arise to the Lord, because He has been extremely good to every one of us, actually, Matthew 5:45 states “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”. God’s mercy endures forever, everything we received from the Lord is undeserved favor. Our continued survival is proof of that. If we received what we deserve, we would be unredeemed forever.
Said that, we want to point out that, during the times of the prophet Hosea, Israel was crumbling. After the death of Jeroboam II, in 753 BC Israel sank into near anarchy, going through six kings in about thirty years. Assyria regained power and eventually destroyed Israel. God’s message to the people of Israel through the prophet Hosea was simple: stop their promiscuity and idolatry and return to God in humility and faithfulness.
The people of Israel ran after other lovers (gods) because they could not acknowledge nor discern the source of the goodness and support they were receiving, so their gratitude and worship went to the wrong place. Yes, it takes humility to recognize the things that God does for us and be grateful for them. Indeed, we love God not just for the bounty that we received from Him, we love the Lord for who He is.
Hosea 2:5 “She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.” Hosea 2:8 “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold which they used for Baal.”
Without fail, ingratitude demonstrates that the heart is contaminated and needs Christ’s light to be clean from all ungodly attitudes. In fact, gratitude provokes worship, however, ingratitude encourages complaints and whining. On one occasion, I heard someone say that the “people who complain receive curses so they can keep complaining”.
Sadly, God’s people were recidivists; they quickly forgot who God was in their lives and relapsed into disobedience. Let us visit the exciting history narrated in the book of Numbers chapter 11.
Quail From the Lord
Numbers 11: 4-6 Quail From the Lord 4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!
18 Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”
31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits[b] deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day, the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.[c] Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore, the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,[d] because there they buried the people who had craved other food.
Some important points that we want to highlight from this history:
- “Rabble”; this is an apt term for the non-Israelite mixed group of people who followed the Israelites out of Egypt, pointing to a recurring source of complaints and trouble in the camp. Those who did not know the Lord and His mercies incited those who did know Him to rebel against Him. If only we had meat to eat! As in Ex 16, the people began to complain about their diet, forgetting what God had done for them (Ps 106:14) ( NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.)”. The Israelites allowed themselves to join the rabble in their demanding and dissatisfied attitude, clearly, one prominent characteristic of ungrateful people is a significant lack of memory.
- We cannot allow other people’s bad attitudes to contaminate us. We must keep in mind that we serve the Living God and He will take care of us; we cannot just flow with others in their dissatisfaction. The Rabble does not know God, but we do. The rabble influenced the Israelites because their faith was still fragile. We definitely understand that difficult times can challenge our faith. The Israelites suffered a lot under the Egyptian yoke but they also saw God delivering them with a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders” Deuteronomy 26:8 (NIV).
Sometimes it seems like anything that God can do for some of us is sufficient to keep our faith strong, sadly there is always room in the human heart for doubt and disbelief. Someone may say: “Well, we are humans” and this is completely accurate, however, we miss the point that God is not human; we can trust God’s character which is incorruptible and unchangeable. Sometimes one can think or feel that he or she is alone, that nothing can possibly change, regardless of the situation, but listen to the news: God is able!
- Being in slavery will never be better than the freedom obtained through God in spite of the hardship that could come.
- Recognizing the good things that the Lord does for us is undoubtedly a good practice, and avoiding whining and complaining is wise; this will keep us safe from quail.
- The ingratitude of the heart makes people see circumstances from a nonsensical perspective and prevents them from realizing that circumstances are precisely that: circumstances- which means they will pass. The Israelites and the rabble with them in their naughtiness exclaim: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Num 11:5). Free food! That is false; they were slaves in Egypt. They were treated exactly like that, they worked like animals to raise the Pharaoh’s cities, so nothing that they could possibly have had in that city was free.
- Ingratitude can kindle God’s anger which is not a good place to be. Now that they were in a new type of distress, they romanticized the past and minimized its discomforts. Certainly, they forgot when they were in such torment that the Bible says in Exodus 6:9 “9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor”. Another critical fact is that even though Israel did not start the complaint they joined the rabble in their misconduct so in the same way, they joined them whining for meat they shared the consequences of their misbehavior.
As stated before, ungratefulness produces selective amnesia and the sad part of all this is that in today’s Christianity we are not so different from the Israelites and the rabble of that moment, certainly, some of us can be even worse.