A Grumbling People

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”…So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’” Exodus 16:2-3, 6-12

The children of Israel had just come out of the worst time in history imaginable up to this point. They had spent the last several hundred years in Egypt, and they were slaves during the majority of those years. Their work load was incredibly difficult, they were treated terribly and looked down upon, and their children were murdered. YHVH saw their condition and heard their cry, and He sent somebody through which He would buy them out of their slavery. He rescued them.

Many hundreds of years prior to all of this, He had promised to bring them to a land that they could call their own. (Genesis 15) This was still His plan, and this was what He was doing, but He did not choose an easy route for them. First He brought them through the Red Sea, then they came through the wilderness of Shur where they found themselves without fresh water. The people grumbled against Moses, and YHVH showed Moses how to turn the bitter water fresh. They rested in Elim where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees (a picture of food and water). But now, they find themselves in a wilderness once again – the wilderness of Sin. Although all of this had been very difficult time for Israel, YHVH provided for them.

As the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness of Shur, they once again grumbled against them here, in the wilderness of Sin. In Shur they had no fresh water, but here, they have no food. Their grumbling went as far as to say that they would have rather died in Egypt, just like the Egyptians did by the hand of YHVH, where at least their bellies would be full, than to die of starvation in the wilderness. Then they blamed Moses and Aaron for their condition, saying that Aaron and Moses had brought them to the wilderness in order to starve them.

The children of Israel truly believed that all of this was Moses’ and Aaron’s fault. They were truly blaming them for their condition, and they believed that they were grumbling against them. But Moses told them that YHVH was going to provide them food and it would be through the way He provided the food that they would see that it was He who brought them out of the land of Egypt – not Moses and Aaron. This whole time, they thought they were grumbling and complaining against Moses and Aaron, when in fact it was YHVH they were grumbling against. It was YHVH who brought them to the place they were now, and it was YHVH who put them in this condition.

How many times do we do this? How many times do we blame others for situations in our lives? As believers, many times we blame Satan when things happen to us that we don’t like – often times too quickly. We give Satan entirely too much credit. Maybe the reason we do this is because many of us have been taught that God would never do anything to us that might cause us to be uncomfortable. But look at what the children of Israel are going through. Do you think that YHVH would bring you to a place where there is absolutely no escape from your enemy? Do you think that YHVH would bring you to a place where you don’t have fresh water? Do you think that YHVH would bring you to a place where you don’t have food? If you answered no to any of these questions, go back and read the story of the Exodus. He did all of these things to the children of Israel, His chosen people. Why wouldn’t He do things things to us – for us? However, He also provided an out for them.

You see, YHVH could have taken the children of Israel through an easier route, but He knew that if He did, they would just want to go back to Egypt – and ultimately would have. This wasn’t the doing of Moses and Aaron. 

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.     Exodus 13:17-18

YHVH used many of these times of uneasiness to teach the children of Israel and to grow their faith.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.      Exodus 16:4, 13-20

Do you see YHVH’s plan in this? He wanted to teach His children to trust Him. This is part of what faith is. He used His provision to teach them this. If they had not been hungry, this provision would have meant far less to the children of Israel than what they needed. How was He going to make them hungry? He took them through the wilderness where there was no food. Would they have learned this lesson if they had gone the easy route? Possibly, but probably not to the extent that they get to learn it now. This was uncomfortable. This was NOT easy. But, this was YHVH’s plan.

Are you in the middle of an uncomfortable situation? Maybe you are there to learn something. YHVH has a plan for those who love Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.      Jeremiah 29:11-13

God knows what we need, and many times what we need is difficulties. YHVH is going to take us through discomfort to teach us the lessons that will cause us to call upon Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart. When we grumble and blame Satan for these discomforts, we are really grumbling against YHVH.

When you find yourself in the middle of a trial, and you really want to find somebody to blame, stop and consider the possibility of growth that can come out of the situation. Be content knowing that YHVH has everything under control, and all you need to do is to search out what He says is the right thing to do in His word. Then apply it.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.      2 Corinthians 12:7-10

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