After the emancipation of the Hebrew people, they started their journey to the Promised Land per the command and promise of God. The sheer spiritual magnitude of their release from Egypt is recognized in that it was part of God’s plan to bring salvation to mankind. (Cf. Genesis 12:1-3). On a lesser but not unimportant scale, the release from Egyptian bondage was a tremendous burden lifted from the Hebrew people. After a king arose who was unfamiliar and unfavorable towards Joseph (Exodus 1:8) the Hebrew people were enslaved and treated horrendously (Exodus 1:8-10). They placed heavy burdens on the people for the sole purpose of afflicting them. Therefore, they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses, Exodus 1:11. They made Israel serve with merciless cruelty and unsparing ruthlessness (Exodus 1:13). Every command given to the Israelites was a method of punishment. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage–in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor, Exodus 1:14. Even more egregious was the lengths to which the Egyptians went to stifle a Hebrew population surge. Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live,” Exodus 1:15-16.
To fully comprehend the magnitude of their sufferings, consider that the Jews suffered some of the same things under Satan’s servant, Adolf Hitler. Could you imagine the joy when they left the borders of Egypt when they saw the destruction of their cruel taskmasters at the hand of God? If you were an Israelite and someone suggested going back to that horrendous situation what would you say? I assume the answer would be a resounding no. Yet, a remarkable and unfathomable thing happened, on more than one occasion Israel wanted to go back to Egypt. Yes, they wanted to go back to the relentless cruelty and the regular murdering of their children. With the Red Sea in front of them and the Armies of Egypt behind them, the Israelites said the following. Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness,” Exodus 14:12. (Emphases MS) When they were traveling through the wilderness they complained and murmured. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger, Exodus 16:3. On the verge of entering the Promised Land, the people demanded to go back to Egypt. Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So, they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt,” Numbers 14:3-4. While witnessing the mighty miracles of God, while being provided for by the hand of God these thankless individuals kept dreaming about a better place in Egypt. They were engaging in selective recall. In moments of perceived and actual difficulty, they painted Egypt as a utopia of pleasantries, a place much better than running through the wilderness with God and his appointed leader Moses.
These folks died for their foolishness and faithlessness (Cf. Number 14:11 & 20-38). There is a great lesson to be learned for those who have escaped the clutches of death (Romans 6:23) and left worldly things behind (Romans 12:1-2). When trying times come upon us, we tend to look at the past with great self-deception. We paint it with pleasantries and conjure up images of comfort when in reality it was and is none of those things. We were being ruled by sin (John 8:34) serving the master of sin (John 8:44) and steadily heading towards destruction because of sin (2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). We were engrossed in profligacy (2 Corinthians 6:9-11) and void of religious veracity (Ephesians 2:1-3). We did not love it there; we were not happy in that state and that is why we made the choice to obey the Gospel. Our lives in Christ are much better and any favorable thoughts about a life in sin is pure selective recall.