And it came to pass that when the people murmured, it was evil in the ears of Jehovah; and Jehovah heard it, and his anger was kindled, and the fire of Jehovah burned among them, and consumed [some] in the extremity of the camp. Numbers 11:1
These were not happy campers. These were chronic complainers. They were unhappy, ungrateful, and unappreciative. These were the redeemed of Israel that hung out out with others of their ilk in the extremities of the camp, afar off, far away from the tabernacle, the worship center. If one would walk by or come close, I’m sure they would keep on complaining, just their volume would get lower. People are no different today. I’m sure you know some who are unhappy chronic complainers. Hey, what are you looking at me for?
If the unhappy campers were the thankless chronic complainers, who were the happy campers?
The thankful -- and there was an offering for that! The peace offering was offered for thanksgiving.
Let’s see what we already know about the peace offering: it was sweet smelling, voluntary, provided an atonement for sins and included blood shed. Even though the primary purpose of the peace offering was not food, everyone got a piece of this offering: God got the best parts (of the sacrificed animal), the priests got the flame-broiled right shoulder (or thigh) and the breast meat, and the offerer to bring home the rest. He was to share the remainder of the barbecued animal with friends and family for a day or two (anything left on the third day were to be incinerated). It was a means of fellowship. Some English translations even call it the fellowship offering.
Since happy campers were thankful, they must have offered peace offerings frequently. They probably hung out closer to the entrance of the tabernacle than the murmurers. They had to draw nigh to the tabernacle to make the sacrifice (remember, an offering that requires blood shed). Those murmurers were probably a couple miles from the tabernacle. Who knows, maybe that’s one of the things that they complained about. If they made an offering, they would have to travel a couple miles with a prize animal, to what? Give it away? They could have been more thankful and complained less. Come to think of it, I could be more thankful and complain less.
So, the happy campers drew nigh and the unhappy campers remained afar off.
Let’s see what Paul says (emphasis added):
The tabernacle was a type of Christ. Today, you can tell who among the redeemed are close to Christ. They have become nigh by the blood of the Christ, and offer [the] sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, [the] fruit of [the] lips confessing his name. - Heb. 13:15
What about us? Maybe we start our day close to our Lord Jesus the Christ, this is good. Maybe we end the day close to Jesus, and this is good. But where do we spend the rest of the day? Close to Jesus? or murmuring with others of our ilk afar off, far away from Jesus, who ought to be continually the center of our worship?
Come close to the Savior, O why dost thou linger?
He knoweth thy heart oppressed.
His promise believing, His message receiving,
O come unto Him and rest. - F. Crosby