Grumblers Not Allowed

I visited Twyla Osler, for my medical massage today. My neck and shoulders needed the workout. I was glad for the improvement, but it threw off my plans for an immediate workout at the fitness center. I was able to get in my afternoon swim, which is proving to be helpful. Even though progress has seemed to slow, I believe I can look to next year at this time as a time of full recovery!

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… That night all the people in the camp began crying loudly. All the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron, and all the people said to them, “We wish we had died in Egypt or in this desert. Why is the Lord bringing us to this land to be killed with swords? Our wives and children will be taken away. We would be better off going back to Egypt.” They said to each other, “Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Numbers 14:1-4

If the exodus was taking place today, when the Children of Israel scouted out the promised land, there would have been a sign with a red circle and a diagonal line with the words, “No Grumblers Allowed.”

One thing the Children of Israel learned as slaves was how to grumble and complain. It was the cry of  God’s people that compelled Him to appear to Moses in the Wilderness and send him back to Egypt. The Lord said to Moses,

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”(Exodus 3:6-8)

As we move through the exodus and the journey to the borders of the promised land, we can observe that their immediate response to any difficulty was to immediately complain, grumble and anticipate the worst. This was regardless of the miracles they saw as the Lord brought the plagues on Egypt.

They complained at the Red Sea, they complained at the waters of Marah, they complained about their food, Mariam and Aaron complained about Moses and his wife, they complained about the obstacles of conquering the promised land, a man named Korah with 250 other men complained about the leadership of Moses. When the Lord judged these men, the people complained and grumbled against Moses for “killing the Lord’s people.”

Perhaps we can say, “it is easier to take the slaves out of bondage than to take the bondage out of the slaves.” Regardless of the miracles they saw and even the judgment of the Lord on those who rebelled, they refused to fear the Lord and to trust Him to be their deliverer and provider.

The result was the slaves did not occupy the land. They wandered in the desert until all the men of the exodus 20 years and older died. The promised land was occupied by the generation that grew up in the wilderness, who learned to follow and trust the Lord.

This history is important for us today. Paul points this out in his letter to the Church at Corinth:

 “And these things happened as examples for us, to stop us from wanting evil things as those people did.We must not test Christ as some of them did; they were killed by snakes. Do not complain as some of them did; they were killed by the angel that destroys. The things that happened to those people are examples.” (1 Corinthians 10:6-11)

Difficult times, times of trial are times of testing and temptation. Will we lose heart, complain, focus on the present or will we trust, maintain our courage and keep our eyes on the prize? It is interesting that in this context we find the familiar verse that says, The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it.” (1  Cor. 10:13)

As we face the troubles of life, we will be tempted to turn from trusting the Lord and to disobey His commands, complain, give in to fear, focus on the present, mistake temporal needs as the most important needs of our life. But just as the Lord parted the waters of the Red Sea, He is able to make a “way of escape” if we look for it. Remember Paul’s words,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”                          (Romans 8:35,37)

When troubles come, we can respond as slaves or as conquerors. Slaves are powerless and feel abandoned, they just complain and grumble and return to old patterns and lifestyles. But Christ gives us strength to do….to do what we can, to do what we need to…to be overcomers.