Although God repeatedly tells us in detail what he is going to do, people forget, grumble, complain, and become discouraged. Yet God takes care of our needs. Grumbling and complaining cause us to be miserable. But God is faithful.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing,” says Philippians 2:14. I know this verse. I reprimand myself and my children with it. Yet, as I read Exodus, I realize that I am a lot like they were. I tend to grumble even though I shouldn’t.
After the ten plagues (blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of first born), Pharaoh lets the Israelites go. Everything God said He would do, He did. The Hebrews left with articles of silver and gold and clothing, plundering the Egyptians who were eager to see them leave. Even as they were leaving, Pharaoh asked for a blessing.
In Exodus 14:4, God tells the Israelites that the Egyptians will pursue them, but He will glorify Himself. Still when they saw them coming, they freaked out. An angel of the Lord and a pillar of cloud are moving with the Hebrews. The Red Sea dries up and they pass over on dry land. Yet after this miraculous parting and protection, they grumble.
First, they grumble about being pursued. Why did Moses bring them out to die in the desert? Second, they grumble because they couldn’t find water.
In Exodus 15, God tells them He will protect them from diseases. We know they wandered in the desert for 40 years and possessions didn’t wear out. The sicknesses they had were because of their disobedience, but God warned them about this. It benefits us to pay attention!
In the second month on the 15th day, they grumble about the food. That is three complaints in about five or six weeks, if I understand this correctly. Manna rains down, but again some don’t follow instructions.
Then they grumble about water again. They tested the Lord with the attitude of “Is the Lord among us or not?” He has been providing for them, but they don’t seem to notice. We must be careful not to do the same.
After God gives them the Testimony and Ten Commandments, the camp grumbles about what is taking Moses so long on the mountain. They create a calf idol which they claim brought them out of Egypt. It is very odd that they would do this and that Aaron would not correct them. If Moses hadn’t interceded, the entire camp would have perished. Aaron gives his lame excuses. Moses is upset. God is livid.
Because the people were so stubborn and “stiff necked,” God says he won’t go with them, but He will send an angel ahead of them to drive the people living there out.
We know that later when the spies come back, the people who fled Egypt give in to fear and don’t obey so they are punished to die wandering in the desert for 40 years. Caleb and Joshua live because they are faithful. A new generation gets to go into the Promised Land.
How often do we think God isn’t working or has forgotten us rather than remember his faithfulness in the past? How quick we are to grumble when life isn’t going smoothly or going our way.
God told the Hebrews what the consequences would be. He asked if they wanted to follow. They said yes. We are enthusiastic in our yeses sometimes and are quick to forget the consequences of giving into fear or peer pressure.
I see how similar I am to these people even as I shake my head and ask how could they do that? Yes, how is it that I am so quick to forget? Why do I fear anything when I know God has it all under control?
We can still apply the lessons of the Old Testament to our lives today, thousands of years later. We can’t stop our worrying and grumbling without His help so let us ask for His help and give thanks that He is merciful. Jesus intercedes for us. It’s going to be okay. Still, I hope I can do better. How are you doing with this?
Photo by Isaac Welsh