How quickly can singing to the Lord turn to sinning against Him! The troubles in chapter 16 actually started back at the end of chapter 15, immediately following the account of the victorious songs of Moses and Miriam. The people begin grumbling - they had no water to drink. In their thirst, they complained about Moses' leadership. God, of course, provided for their needs as He always does. But did they listen and learn? Nooooo!
The problem only grows worse in chapter 16 when they arrive at - of all places! - "the wilderness of Sin" (vs. 1). What an apt description. It is here that their complaining returns, this time because they are hungry. They grumble against Moses and Aaron: "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger" (vs. 3).
Bunch of ingrates, pining for their days of oppression and slavery in Egypt when they had it so good. And did they really believe that God had done all that they had just witness Him doing merely to take them out to kill them?
Instead, God reveals His plan for taking care of the people during their sojourn in the wilderness - flocks of quail and mysterious bread from heaven that came to be known as "manna" (for "what is it?") Miraculously, the food appears when they need it. Manna is given on a daily basis (except for two times as much on Friday so that they do not gather on the Saturday Sabbath - not that everyone listened to that instruction either!) Those who put God to the test and tried to hoard manna over past its expiration date were rewarded with spoiled, wormy food.
I've come down hard on the Israelites in this blog entry, but the truth of the matter is that we modern American Christians would probably act much the same way, like a group of spoiled brats. Would we be willing to give up our comforts and our luxuries to follow the Lord wherever He leads, even it it meant out into the wilderness, away from all that is familiar and friendly? Would we gripe and grumble about the sacrifices we were required to make in order to be faithful to His plan? Would we trust that He would provide, or would we take more satisfaction in criticizing and complaining against our leaders?
When there is a choice between making the time to sing or taking the time to sin, I hope you will always choose the former!