Foreboding is not a word much in use these days; it means, ‘have a premonition of something evil or harmful’. Jesus used it in Luke 21:26; he forecast that just before he returns to earth there will be, “distress of nations in perplexity … people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world”.
In our younger days there was optimism that better times were coming because of new inventions. This was not just of things for the home, but better fertilisers and increased productivity. Scientists and inventers were making life better, and when the Berlin wall came down in 1989 it seemed the world was entering a golden era of peace and prosperity. How the scene has changed since then.
In Numbers 11 we see some comparisons. The Israelites had had a wonderful and miraculous deliverance from captivity in Egypt. There was a honeymoon period at Mt Sinai and a special tabernacle was built using the gold they had taken from the Egyptians. Then manna, the bread from heaven, was provided as their staple food.
But today’s chapter starts, “And the people complained about their misfortunes … oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions …” (verses 1,4,5). Today’s world has so many who are ready to complain about anything that is not to their liking!
Two hundred years ago nearly everyone believed in a Creator as the source of all things. One hundred years ago, the majority of people still believed this but today a large majority have turned their backs on the God of the Bible. Man is now his own ‘god’. What happened to the self-centred Israelites in the wilderness will have its parallel to the 21st Century as people faint “with fear and foreboding” and distress and perplexity becomes overwhelming. Our Proverbs chapter again has valuable advice, “Keep my commandments and live … call insight your intimate friend” (verses 1,4).
Insight! Inward vision in your heart of the real meaning of life is the antidote to being full of foreboding about what is coming on the world, only God’s word provides the right “food” for seeking hearts.