And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled…
1. Israel had many impediments in their march to the Land of Promise, not only from without (Pharaoh pursuing, Amalek intercepting, &c.), but also from within, among themselves by their manifold murmurings (1 Peter 4:18).
2. God writes our sin upon our punishment. These murmurers here sinned against the "fiery law" (Deuteronomy 33:2); therefore were they punished by fire out of the pillar of fire from whence the fiery law was given and published. Their perdition is our caution (1 Corinthians 10:5, 11).
3. Evil company is infectious and catching as the plague (1 Corinthians 15:33).
4. Wherever there is sinning again on man's part, there will be punishing again on God's part (John 5:14). Here Israel sinned again with a double sin —
(1) In desiring flesh which they wanted;
(2) In disdaining manna which they enjoyed. The vehemence of their concupiscence was the more inflamed by remembering their former Egyptian diet, yet forgetting withal their Egyptian drudgery.
5. The people's profane deploring their penury (when they had little cause to do so, while fed with the food of angels) doth not only make God angry with them (ver. 10), but also putteth meek Moses into a pang of passion and impatience (vers. 11-15).
6. The Divine remedy to all this human malady; both as to Moses' impatience, and as to Israel's intemperance.
(1) Moses must not bear the burden alone, but shall be assisted with the Sanhedrin, or great council of the Jews, consisting of seventy seniors (answerable to the seventy souls that descended with Jacob into Egypt) whereof Moses sat president, all endowed with the gifts of the spirit of Moses, who was as a candle that lighteth others, yet hath not less either heat or light than it had before (vers. 16, 17, 24, 25, 30).
(2) As to the people's intemperance, as God promised and performed plenty of flesh to those fleshly-minded multitude, so He punished their impiety with a horrible plague at the close thereof (vers. 18, 19, 20, 31, 32, 33, 34).
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.