And they are complaining all the way. Not enough water. Not enough food. And they really miss Egypt.
Let us modern-day people pause for a minute here and review our own complaints on any typical day. How strange is it to desire whatever has become Egypt to us? to accept rule by that Egypt? During Lent, let us look back on what life was like and what life could be like.
Back to the wilderness wanderers: They complain to Moses about God. God punishes them. They repent. Moses intercedes for them with God. God relents and provides relief.
Carol Bechtel Reynolds writes "Life After Grace," in the July 1997 Interpretation:
God forgives the penitent, however, and offers salvation to those who will take advantage of it. At this point one is justified in going to the New testament passage that is paired with this text in the lectionary. Now we are prepared to hear Jon 3:14-15 with greater clarity than it it had been read alone. There Jesus says: "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." It is only against the backdrop of God's justice and mercy that the "folly" of Jesus' words makes sense. When we hear them we realize that, like those poor snake-bitten rebels in the wilderness, we have only to look up and live.