I hope I’m not the only one who falls so easily into the trap of grumbling and complaining. After all, it seems like such a little thing! Yet, in reality, we’re not just complaining about our circumstances or other people, but against our Sovereign God. We’re called to shine the light into a dark world, but it’s hard to be shining when you’re whining!
Exodus 15 & 16
When You’re Whining
Grumbling & Complaining
The children of Israel had just watched God deliver them in a powerful way. He had parted the Red Sea and allowed them to cross over on dry land and then completely destroyed their enemies. What a celebration that must have been! God had gloriously and miraculously delivered the Israelites from the powerful armies of Egypt, a world power at that time. There was singing and dancing. The whole congregation glorifying God!
But then … three days later … three days! Their concern over their physical needs caused them to grumble against Moses. The text in verse 25 of chapter 15 says that God was testing them.
Again God worked miraculously by making the water drinkable. In fact, He did exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or think, as He so often does for us (Eph. 3:20), by leading them to Elim where there were “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees” (15.27).
Then a few verses and a month later we read:
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 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’ ” (16:2-3).
Again it was all about physical needs.
From our vantage point, it seems so foolish of them, after all God had done, to so quickly throw aside their trust in Him. But … before we get too critical, what about us?
God saves us. We’re rejoicing and giving our testimony. But then, God doesn’t do something the way we want. Perhaps, we pray and don’t see the answer right away or it isn’t the answer we expected. All of a sudden, we’re complaining because God isn’t working according to our plan. Instead, He requires us to trust Him.
We’re tempted to go back to Egypt—back to our old way of living.
Written as Our Examples
Let’s look again at a passage I mentioned yesterday, 1 Corinthians 10.13. This time let’s look at it in context starting in verse 6:
6 Now these things [the Old Testament passages] became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
These things are written as our examples so we don’t make the same mistakes by grumbling and complaining or by turning back to Egypt. Instead, we are to:
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that [we] may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15).
And … it’s impossible to be shining and whining at the same time.
Today’s Other Readings:
Our Righteousness Comes from God
Verse 24, “Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.”
Thankfully we don’t come to Him on the basis of our own righteousness. We are to come to Him on the basis of Christ’s righteousness which has been imputed to us. Philippians 3 says:
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Sin Permeates Everything
12 A worthless person, a wicked man,
Walks with a perverse mouth;
13 He winks with his eyes,
He shuffles his feet,
He points with his fingers;
14 Perversity is in his heart,
He devises evil continually,
He sows discord.
15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.
Sometimes we think we can keep sin in some corner of our lives, but sin is like the yeast in bread. It permeates every part. Left unconfessed and unrepented of, it will affect the mouth—what we say (v. 12), the eyes—how we view things and are seen by others (v. 13), the feet—where we go (v. 13), and the fingers—what we do (v. 13) because it comes out of the heart (v. 14).
Which did the will of the Father?
As the time of Christ’s death draws near the religious leaders continue to look for ways to trap Him, but Jesus doesn’t pull away or back off. In fact, in this chapter He confronts them with two parables aimed right at them! The first is “The Parable of the Two Sons”:
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”
But, once again, let’s be careful not to point too gleefully at the religious people of Jesus’ time without looking at ourselves. How often do we read and study and know God’s Word and say we will obey, … while we procrastinate and justify, and look for the foot note which says our situation is the exception? How often do we justify “our little sin” because of all the “good” things we are doing for God!
Lord, help us not to justify our sins, not to look for the loopholes. Help us to be quick to repent and willing to obey. Help us refrain from complaining and wanting life our own way, instead of trusting in You and Your timing, in Jesus name, amen.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.