Numbers 20:5, It [the wilderness] is not a place of seed and fig and grape and pomegranates; and there is no water to drink. This was the complaint of the people against YHVH. In Hebraic thought, water, the fig tree, wine from the grape, as well as oil, milk and honey (the two symbols of the Promised Land) are all metaphors for Torah (see Everyman’s Talmud, pp. 133–134). The Israelites were seeking physical food, but were missing the spiritual food (i.e. Torah, faith in his Word and promises) that YHVH was abundantly providing them during their wilderness walk. Additionally, the Hebrew word for wilderness is b’midbar (the Hebrew name for the book of Numbers), which means “in the wilderness, desert, uninhabited land or pasture.”
The root word of midbar is the word dabar meaning “to speak, declare, command, promise or commune.” In a number of instances in the Scriptures, the terms word/dabar of God/Elohim or word /dabar of the LORD/YHVH is used to denote words coming directly from the mouth of YHVH. In the tabernacle (Heb. mishkan), the most set-apart place was called the d’veer (a cognate of the word debar) or oracle. It was there that Moses went to receive the word (d’bar) of YHVH.
What is the point of this brief word study? While going through the wilderness of life, if we have an attitude of gratitude instead of one of complaining, murmuring, doubt, fear and unbelief in the Word and promises of YHVH, will we not be more likely to understand YHVH’s purposes, instructions, (i.e. Torah), his heart and his plans for our lives? If we have such an attitude, will our hearts not be more inclined to hear YHVH’s voice more clearly and understand his will for our lives thereby receiving hope for the future and strengthened faith? One can waste one’s energy on murmuring and never grow up spiritually, or one can determine to hear YHVH and to commune with him in the wilderness of life and seek spiritual enrichment out of that wilderness and view it as our training ground for entering the Promised Land.
Let’s make a conscious effort to redirect our thoughts and attitude positively, while never forgetting the bitter lessons of our Israelite forefathers (1 Cor 10:11)? Murmuring produced nothing except death in the wilderness. If we have a grateful heart attitude, we will not only have a happier time in the wilderness of life, but we will be more likely to hear YHVH’s voice and understand the meaning and purpose of the experiences we have while en route to the Promised Land of our ultimate spiritual inheritance.