Murmuring

by Clyde White

Introduction to Murmuring

Murmuring is a Spiritual ailment that can destroy a Believer’s Spiritual life, and can bring defeat to any church. We will see this tool of Satan rear its ugly head over and over again, as we track the Israelites in the wilderness, right up until they built the Tabernacle and beyond. As a matter of fact, this was a chronic problem with Israel throughout all of its history. Sad to say, it is a current problem in the church, today.

Murmuring(Greek)
The low constant sound of a running brook; The cooing of doves; The contented sounds of a baby; To grumble in low tones (as the cooing of doves) to oneself or secretly to others; To confer together in a secretive manner about matters of discontent; A secret debate in quarrelsome discontent.

Murmuring is one of those terms that can have a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. However, when used of Christians in the church or Israel in the wilderness, it is not referring to the beautiful sounds of a brook or the cooing of doves or the sweet sounds of a baby. Murmuring is an expression of one person to oneself, or of several people expressing discontent in a secretive manner, without the intent of bringing proper resolution. Murmurings erupt because of selfish discontent, and the absence of true thankfulness. All good Americans or maybe it is just all humans seem to have a special strain of this disease of murmuring.

You hear it almost daily concerning the weather. If we have a week of cloudy weather, you will hear: “Will the sun ever shine again?” But let the sun shine for a week or two and you will hear: “Man! I don’t think it knows how to rain!” Of course, there is that very special strain of murmuring that says: “Why can’t we have a good snow in Texas?” It is amazing how un-thankful we are for life sustaining rain. Especially after we’ve had two or three days of it in a row. In like manner, we soon become very un-thankful for the sunshine after only a day or two of 100º weather.

Those complaints about the weather really aren’t good illustrations of true murmurings, but they do point out the discontent and the absence of resolution that is present in murmurings. It also shows another major component of murmurings, that of un-thankfulness, or how quickly we forget the graces of God. God’s graces are not for our comfort.

If you combine the discontent, the absence of resolution, the un-thankfulness that we humans exhibit in regard to the weather, and add to that a continual undertone in a secretive manner without any purpose of proper resolution, you have a pretty good picture of Biblical murmuring. Like so many aspects of carnality, the initial act is not nearly as bad as the resulting effect of that act. This is ever so true of murmuring.

Throughout the Old Testament and the accounts of Israel in the wilderness, we have examples of murmurings and their results. As we will see, in the New Testament we have the doctrinal command not to murmur and the solution for stopping it. The results of constant murmuring are always the same. The circumstance surrounding those results, or the path to those results may be vastly different, but there are some things that will always result from murmuring.

Because this subject of murmuring is so vast and will come up over and over again, let’s establish at the outset that murmuring is not a single act of discontent, but is a constant action that literally becomes a way of life, or at least become a vital part of everyday living. Therefore, I will not always say “constant murmuring”, because murmuring is a constant act. However, because of our English use of the word, we often forget that fact. So, I will from time to time insert the modifier constant. If I fail to do so, please have a few extra constants lying around in your mind, and attach one to the term murmuring.

Quite often murmuring starts from a single issue. However, those who give themselves to murmuring often find that they are soon murmuring about many subjects and sometimes about almost every subject.

Murmuring in the Church

Are you looking for a perfect church? How could you ever find a better church than the first one? It was established, and was commissioned directly by the Lord Jesus Christ. That first church was taught and administered by the twelve Apostles, who had been personally trained by Christ. Sounds great, right? But that church, like all churches that have followed, was made up of humans like you and me, with very human emotions and very human desires like ours.

Acts 6:1-4 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Therefore, almost before the paint was dry on the new church sign over the door, major problems arose. When any group of Believers known as a church increases in size, there are always problems. Those problems most generally come from the areas of the social and personal relationships within that group of redeemed sinners. Often those problems are started because someone began to talk before they had their brain engaged and before they compare the results of their words and actions with eternity. Seldom do we see major conflicts within a church because of doctrinal issues.

The problems mentioned in this context had very little to do with doctrine. These problems had to do with programs or personal offences or the concept that me and mine are not getting our fair share. There is much to learn in this account, most of which we will not take time to examine.

What we can learn from this account is that the purpose of the church is not for personal or physical benefit. Interesting that many people evaluate a church based solely on what they can get from it. Certainly, there are some personal and physical benefits derived by being part of a church. However, the main purpose and focus of a church should be the teaching of the Word, and fellowship with or prayer to God. Anytime the church reaches beyond the teaching and fellowship ministry, there must be programs created to administer such activities.

As people are involved in programs, some often lose sight of the purpose for the program, and the program becomes the ministry. Rather than evaluating church programs based on whether the program is advancing the ministry of the Word and fellowship, we look to see if we are getting our fair share or if we are being neglected.

Anytime a church reaches out to the physical needs of people through physical activity, that church should expect murmurings and be ready and willing to deal with such human distractions to the ministry of the Word. Those physical needs and activities can be as simple as child care and as complicated as providing for the basic needs of life itself. It matters not what the program might be, it will generate murmurings.

If these distractions or murmurings are properly handled, they can be solved and the church will continue to grow. If those murmurings are not handled correctly or they continue, that church will cease to function as a Spiritual entity. And all God’s people nod their sanctimonious heads saying, “Yep! I’ve sure seen that happen over and over again.”

Our Own Murmurings

Think with me about some of our murmurings. I know! I know! We don’t murmur, we make “critical suggestions”. Call them whatever you would like, let’s run back over them for a few moments.

What are my critical suggestions (or murmurings) about? Were those murmurings because the Word of God was abused, or not presented in truth? Or were they because someone else sang a solo and I didn’t? The social was not what or where I liked, therefore I couldn’t fellowship with other Believers? Someone else got on the committee that I wanted? My kids didn’t get the attention that the rest of the kids got? The color was wrong? They wore the wrong thing?

The list could go on endlessly. If we are honest, our critical suggestions (murmurings) were caused by and were about physical things, and most of those things were self-centered.

You know, if our intentions were really the ministry (teaching the word and fellowshipping with God), instead of what I want or can get from a church program, we would be solving the problem in the proper manner instead of wallowing in self-pity or self-pride.

Unthankfulness

This whole problem of Biblical murmuring centers in and emanates from a spirit of un-thankfulness. Isn’t it amazing how unthankful we can be when God has given us so much? Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter how much God has blessed us, if someone else got more than I, then the plan of God must be off kilter, because I didn’t get my fair share. I didn’t get what I deserved. Let’s think about that for a minute, what if God gave us what we really deserved…

Oh, my! Wouldn’t that be awful?

Have you ever really thought about the sin of un-thankfulness or murmuring? Quite often, because I didn’t get what I wanted or I didn’t get as much as someone else did, I lose sight of all that I have already received. What I didn’t get (and thought I deserved), blinds me to all other good things I did receive.

Let’s take a very brief look at the power of unthankfulness in action, and the personal Spiritual harm that such an attitude and action will produce.

Romans 1:20-22 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Futile(Greek)
To render foolish i.e. wicked or idolatrous.
Darkened(Greek)
To obscure i.e. by a shadow.

When we are unthankful for what we have, the effect or result is that we become personally foolish and those things cause us to act in an ungodly manner, though sometimes in a seemingly religious manner. Unthankfulness casts a shadow of spiritual darkness over our hearts.

These things that we are unthankful for literally become idols and we substitute them for God’s glory. If we had the time to fully study this and other related passages, we would see that being unthankful has both an immediate effect, and a progressive downward effect of Spiritual futility and darkness. In reality, being unthankful (murmuring) places our wants and our will above God’s provision and His will, and that is idolatry!

Selfish Desires

Philippians 2:19-21 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state 21For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

Paul says he is sending Timothy because all others seek their own. Everyone else looked out for themselves. They did not seek the glory of Christ. Godliness, places God’s will above all else. Believers seek above all else God’s will, then the well-being of others. In so doing, those Believers will receive the desires of their heart. Look at just a few passages, and I do mean just a few compared to the many that deal with this subject.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
1 Corinthians 10:22-24 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? 23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.

You know, if we look hard at this passage, we might see at least one reason why modern Christians are winning so few to Christ. We have written many books and huge conferences that address this subject, but we have not made ourselves servants to all.

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

Why is Paul seeking the profit of many and not his own? That they may be saved!

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

It is amazing to compare what the Bible says the Christian life should be compared to how we actually live it out! Does your life look like the teachings God’s word or does it look more like the world?

Luke 12:15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Let’s look continue in our study of Acts.

Handling Murmuring

Acts 6:1-4 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

Certainly, this was happening. The Hellenist widows were being neglected. But that was not the purpose of the church. It is good for the church to help people, but when the church becomes only a helping hand, it is no longer a church. The purpose of the church is to minister the word of God as we read in verse 4.

The problem of murmuring needs to be properly handled. Sometimes the complaint behind the murmuring is justified. However, such a problem cannot and will not be properly handled or properly brought to light by murmuring. Murmuring can only bring strife and division and ultimately becomes a hindrance of the ministry of the Word of God. The goal of dealing with all problems within the church, is so that the problem will not hinder the ministry of the Word of God, and the fellowship with God.

Let’s look how the early church handled this murmuring problem. For any church problem to be properly cared for, it must be cared for by those within the body. Those caring for the problem must be those of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. That was true in the first church, that was true with Israel in the wilderness and it is true at local church bodies across the world. Murmuring is ungodliness, and we will see that God used some very drastic means for handling the murmurings in the wilderness. Quite often, God’s method of handling the murmurings in the wilderness resulted in the death of the murmurers. There is much more on this, but we must move on.

A proposal was made by the Apostles for handling the food distribution problem. This pleased the people.

Acts 6:5-7 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 And the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Notice that when the problem was dealt with in a proper manner, by Spiritual people in a Spiritual manner, the Word of God spread, and others came to know Christ. Even some who were considered unreachable were reached, because there was unity of spirit and purpose. A church operating in the unity of the Spirit, is an evangelistic power, and one of the greatest missionary endeavors.

Let’s continue to follow this account, looking at Stephen, one of those chosen to serve..

Acts 6:8-7:1 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. 7:1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”

Please keep in mind that these who were challenging Stephen, concerning the fundamental foundation of Christianity, were the highest leaders of the Jewish nation both religiously and politically. In effect, Stephen was brought before the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation.

Not only was Stephen on trial, the reality of Christianity was in question. In Acts 7:1 the absolute highest and most powerful man in the Jewish nation, both politically and religiously, demanded of Stephen, “Are these things so?”

You would think that Stephen would have gone to the book of Ephesians or the great declarations of Romans chapter 8, etc. Well no, those books weren’t written yet. As a matter of fact, Paul was not even a converted yet. In just a few verses, Paul, who then was called Saul, will aid in killing Stephen for what he was about to present in this passage. Think about it, some of what Stephen said, in his defense before the Supreme Court, may very well have had an influence in Paul’s conversion and his later teachings in the Epistles.

If you were Stephen, and you were standing before the Supreme Court where would you go to get evidence to answer the High Priest’s question, “Are these things so?”

Stephen went right where he should have gone for his evidence. He went to the account of God’s promise and provision for the Jewish nation. Ultimately, Stephen went to the account of Israel in the wilderness: the Tabernacle and its worship.

Stephen Tells of Moses

After giving a brief history of the Jewish nation and God’s promise to Abraham, in the first 16 verses of Acts chapter 7 (take a little time to read it, you will enjoy it), Stephen comes to the account of Israel in Egypt.

Acts 7:17-22 “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph. 19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. 20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. 21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.
Mighty (Greek)
Powerful or capable.

Moses had been raised in the palace of the king of Egypt. He had been trained in all the wisdom of Egypt. He lived in the king’s palace for approximately 40 years. During that time, Moses not only learned how to use words in a powerful manner, but he also learned how to back up those powerful words with very capable actions.

By the age of 40, Moses was a very able speaker, and could accomplish great things. Not only was he able to speak and do things in a powerful manner, he had the wisdom and training to accomplish those things in a proper manner. Please keep these things in mind, as we continue to look at Moses’ life.

Acts 7:23-25 “But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.”

We don’t know when or how Moses learned that he was an Israelite, or how he knew that he was to deliver Israel from bondage. However, he did know. Verse 25 shows this recognition of himself as an Israelite, and that he would have a great deal to do with their deliverance. What Moses did not realize was God’s timing.

Acts 7:26-30 “And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' 27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 'Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?' 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. 30 And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.”

Moses fled to the wilderness. We know that he went to the wilderness through faith (Hebrews 11.) However, in the process, somewhere along the line he began to run from the calling of God. As we see in Acts 7:25, Moses knew his calling. However, some 40 years later he had abandoned that call. As a matter of fact, he tried to repel God’s direct orders. At 40 years, Moses tried to activate God’s plan on his own. At 80, he wanted nothing to do with it.

Unthankfulness of Moses

Let’s leave Stephen’s account of Moses’s life and look at the original account in the book of Exodus.

Exodus 3:1-3 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

It is not significant that a bush was on fire, bushes often do that in the desert. What amazed Moses and caused him to turn aside was that the bush was on fire but not burning. Now that was interesting!

Exodus 3:4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Let’s jump a few verses.

Exodus 3:9-11 “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Exodus 4:10 Then Moses said to the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.

Wait. When had God spoken to Moses before? Could this have been 40 years ago when He told Moses he would deliver Israel?

Anger of the Lord

Exodus 4.11-14 So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.“ 13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.”

This is the first time the phrase the anger of the Lord is used in the Bible. This phrase is used some 30 time in the Old Testament, depending on which translation you refer to. It is very interesting to note that this phrase the anger of the Lord is only used in connection with the people of God, or the servants of God. The anger of the Lord is aroused when His people fail to live in thankfulness, and therefore become disobedient. Instead of living in God’s blessings, they live in the results of un-thankfulness and therefore serve their own desires. We will not take the time to look at each of the 30+ references, even though it would be a very profitable study.

You would think that God would have abandoned Moses. We think such things, because we try to put God in a box and want Him to act like a good human. You know, we think God should act like me. But even with all of Moses’ failings and his rebellion against God, God still was able to make Moses the greatest leader of all times.

It’s wonderful to see that in the listing by the Holy Spirit of the Spiritual accomplishments of Moses in Hebrews 11, only the acts of faith find their way into the roster. That’s grace! God forgave and did not hold the forgiven acts against Moses. God rewarded Moses for the acts of faith. That’s grace!

We are to forgive in the same manner. Christ said that if we don’t forgive in that manner, the Father will not forgive us our trespasses.

Numbers 12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.

Moses stepped out ahead of God in pride and self-centeredness. As a result, he killed a man, told God “no,” etc. But God is very good at bringing blessing from cursing, if we will allow Him to do so in accordance with His commands.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ. Your list of sins and failures may be long, but God is not nearly as concerned with what you have been, as His is excited about what you can be, through His grace activated in your life through obedience. Paul speaks about this in one of his letters.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

God is looking for sinners, who are willing to be washed, sanctified, and justified in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Will you be one of God’s cleansed?

Moses was a great man of God but, Moses was not born a great man of God. Being trained in all the wisdom of Egypt did not make Moses a great man of God. Learning how to speak and act in a dynamic manner did not make Moses a great man of God. God could, however use his family background, his training, and experience in a manner that could accomplish great things for God. It took 80 years for Israel’s problem solver, Moses, to become selfless, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. So, there is still hope for most of us!

Even though Moses was a great man of God, he did not always act in the manner of a great man of God. Sometimes people get upset with me because I point out the failings of the Bible characters, even the great characters. However, God has recorded for us both the greatness and the weakness of the individuals found in the Word of God. We are to learn from both, their great acts and the self-centered actions. We must keep both in balance, and in the proper order given by God to receive the needed instructions from such examples, and to live according to God’s grace.

When we realize that these great people of the Bible were humans like all of us, and they had many of the same weaknesses and struggles, then we can have hope that, we too, can become a great people for God. As we study how these people became great for God, then we can more easily surrender to God, so He can accomplish His purpose in our lives.

Besides the truths taught here that help our understanding of the Scriptures in general, there is much that should bring great hope and comfort to every one of us! We saw Moses as he failed in his attempt to be a great leader for God because he trusted in his own strength and timing (he was forty years too early). He also ran from his Spiritual responsibility and stayed in that condition for 40 years. We know he went to the wilderness by faith, but once he was there, unthankful Moses ran from what God would have him do. To top that off, when God personally talked with Moses, he argued with God, and told God to do whatever He wanted to, but please leave him alone.

Suppressing the Truth

Before we look at the results of the unthankfulness of Moses, let’s first go to God’s commentary on this subject and see the progression of this devastating sin. Then we can compare the Divine commentary with the events and reactions in Moses’ life. Of course, we must also do something that is absolutely necessary, but not always pleasant: we must make personal application to our own lives.

There are a number of passages to which we could turn to see this progression, but Romans 1 is so very clear.

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

As we look at this context, we will see many facts that do not seem to directly apply to murmuring or un-thankfulness. On the surface, it seems that these facts do not directly apply to the subject. However, we need to see a few of the peripheral facts to have a clear picture of the results and progression of murmuring. Actually, all the facts of this passage have a direct impact on this subject of the results and progression of murmuring.

Notice that the truth mentioned in this passage is the Gospel of Christ. These people of Romans 1 saw only a small portion of that Gospel. That fact will be important when it comes to seeing where that truth is found, and what these people did with that truth.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Please, note that the wrath of God is revealed against those who use this truth improperly. In this context, the improper use of this truth was suppressing it.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [Deity], so that they are without excuse,

In this context, these people suppressed the truth, and the truth they suppressed could be clearly seen in creation. Any person can see from creation that there is a Creator and that Creator has power and Deity.

Romans 1:21-22 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Futile(Greek)
To render foolish i.e. wicked or idolatrous.
Darkened (Greek)
To obscure i.e. by a shadow.

These people knew that the Creator was powerful and was Deity. In spite of this knowledge, they did not glorify the Creator as God, and they were not thankful for what the Creator had provided through that creation.

Romans 1:23-25 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Anytime a person changes the glory of God into something less than it is, that person will also exchange the truth of God for that which it is not. It is a swift downward spiral.

Romans 1:26-32 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Notice the progression: they had a knowledge of God, but they suppressed that knowledge and did not glorify Him, nor were they thankful. Therefore, the downward slide!

If you have God’s truth and suppress it, do not glorify Him as God, and are not thankful, you will take this downward slide. Not everyone will participate in every sin mentioned here, but all will take the slide.

Let’s go back to the Stephen’s story of Moses.

Moses Suppressed the Truth

Acts 7:23-25 But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

There are many things in this passage, but let your attention be drawn to verse 25. Moses had the knowledge, from some source, that God would deliver the Israelites by his hand. Somewhere during the next 40 years, Moses suppressed that knowledge, and no longer gave God the honor of being Lord and Master of his life. This we see in Exodus 3.

Exodus 3:1-4 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3:9-11 “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God then proceeds to tell Moses exactly what he will do, even showing him miracles. But Moses has trouble trusting.

Exodus 4:10-14 Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” 13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.”

God said, “You go!”

Moses said, “Send somebody else.”

Moses went from trying to do God’s work through his own strength, to refusing to be a part of God’s work at all. Moses took the slide, and the anger of the Lord was kindled.

As we look at Moses, we see that he had the truth and he also changed the truth of God. God had allowed Moses to be mighty in speech and deeds, but Moses told God to His face that he was slow of speech, and could not do the job for which God was calling him. That was a distortion of the truth, a departure from the truth, a suppression of God’s truth and of all that was true.

Hebrews 10:35-36 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance [patience], so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

“Do not cast away your confidence” This passage was in the context of Israel in the wilderness. Moses had confidence. God told him, “You are the man.” We do not know how he knew, but he knew. When he cast that away, he stuck his tongue out at God. “No God, I won’t do what you said.”

“You have need of endurance” Moses didn’t realize he would have to wait 40 years. But when God says something, it doesn’t matter how long. When God says, “I will use you.” He will. We need to wait. Even if waiting means being on the back-side of the dessert for 40 years taking care of sheep.

Don’t cast away your confidence. Endure. God’s grace is sufficient! Even when we fail as Moses did, God’s grace remains sufficient.

Unthankfulness of the Israelites

Israel Desires Comfort

I want to leave Moses alone now and look at the murmurings or unthankfulness of the people of Israel in the time of the Exodus. Of course, we will have to make this study of the people’s murmurings an overview, because the accounts of such are so numerous that it would take several lessons just to read the accounts.

We will continue the story line of Moses’s life: God met with Moses at the burning bush and gave him instructions. Moses met his brother Aaron, and the two set off for Egypt to carry out the instruction. When they arrived in Egypt, they met with the elders of Israel and explained the situation.

Exodus 4:27-31 And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. 28 So Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

It was a great first meeting: the people believed and worshiped! You couldn’t ask for much more.

But even at this early stage, the major concern was their personal affliction and their comfort. There is certainly nothing wrong with being concerned about personal afflictions and those of your children. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be rid of afflictions, and there is nothing wrong with doing all within your power to lessen your afflictions. However, as we will see, their personal needs and wants took first place over God’s plan and purpose. The Israelites never stopped to think that if they were to be free, there would be a cost to obtain that freedom. Not only would there be a cost, there would be a process needed to obtain that freedom. Freedom is not an instant microwave meal.

As we look at their murmurings, we will see that over and over again, they felt they were being abused or forgotten by God and Moses. We also need to see why God would even bother to free them from slavery in the first place. The “why” is important, because if I were God, I would have left them in Egypt to rot; these people were nothing but trouble! The Israelites, like many Believers today, felt that God owed them comfort, pleasure and their own selfish way. Therefore, they were demanding that God provide what they thought He owed and in a manner of their own liking.

God Has a Plan

God, unlike humans, never acts without a valid reason. Therefore, we must see that reason.

Let’s skip a little ahead in Exodus. You remember much of the story: God brought the plagues on Egypt, and the final plague, the Passover, convinced Pharaoh and all of Egypt to let Israel go. It is at that point the passage in Exo 13:17- 14:1 begins.

Exodus 13:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you. 20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. 14:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

We need to see several facts, so the import of the murmuring of the people and the results can be clearly seen. Notice, over and over again in this passage, it states that their location and their circumstances were at the direction of God.

  • vs 17 God did not lead by the way of the land of the Philistines.
  • vs 18 So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.
  • vs 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.
  • 14:1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses.

All of these events happened by the word and will of God

It is important to see the facts in this account and the accounts to follow. If they were there by the direct intervention and will of God, then any complaints should have been taken directly to God.

Exodus 14:11 Then they said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 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.

Don’t forget the summary of the causes of murmuring:

  1. Selfish discontent.
  2. Absence of true thankfulness.
  3. The absence of Biblical truths, and the application of those truths in every situation.

All three of these causes were evident in the lives of the Israelites, as they stood with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army coming upon them from the rear.

Their only concern was and always had been their own comfort, never the completion of God’s plan or the glorification of God’s person. Never once did they show or declare their true thankfulness to God for His deliverance from Egypt. They were, however, quick to blame Moses for all the difficult things that accompanied freedom. Remember, any freedom has its cost!

There was a total lack of God’s Word and the application of that Word in their thoughts and actions. God directed their journey. God led them in a particular path. God went before them by day and by night showing them the way. They had the evidence of the Word of God, they had the clear direction of God’s leading, etc. Therefore, you would think that any Believer would be content with God’s provision in such a situation, and would be praising God instead of murmuring. Tragically, too many of us have only to look in the mirror to see someone who acts and responds in the same manner as these Israelites.

Isn’t it amazing? When I am possessed with me, myself, and mine, I can lie, twist the truth, and blame everything and everyone for my unpleasant circumstances. However, we so often forget to thank God for what He has provided, fail to trust Him or allow Him to use what He has provided for His glory.

Trusting God

As you read this passage, remember, God never acts without a valid reason. Therefore, we must see that reason.

Exodus 13:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you. 20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. 14:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

We established that the Israelites were at the Red Sea by God’s appointment and leading. That is clearly seen in Exodus 13:17-14:1.

Exodus 14:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, 'They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.' 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

God was very honest with the people. He told them just what was going to happen. Not only did God tell them what was going to happen, He told them why it was going to happen. Earlier we saw one of the reasons that God brought them to the Red Sea, instead of taking them another way. The first reason was for their benefit.

Exodus 13:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.

Not only was this path of travel for the benefit of the people, it was also so the Egyptians would truly know that God was really God.

Being the Spiritual giants that we are, if we had been the Israelites at the Red Sea, we would had said, “God, my greatest desire is for You to be honored. Whatever it requires of me for that honor to be Yours…bring it on!!!” That’s what we would have said, right? After all, God laid it out, in His Own words, exactly what was going to happen and why it was going to happen. Therefore, we know it was God’s will, and we know that God uses all things for our ultimate good. It was His purpose and His will. Therefore, if we had been at the Red Sea, we would have said, “Your will be done.” I’m sure that God is glad to hear our resolve, because the Holy Spirit has made many things quite clear, in His Own words, what He wants us to do. Therefore, we will follow those words with all our heart and soul, right?

Let’s look another command of God:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be followers of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Maybe if we were at the Red Sea, and Ephesians 4:29-5:2 was the command of God, we would have followed it with quick ready resolve. However, when we are at home, church, work, or elsewhere we find it most difficult to respond in any better manner than the Israelites.

God led them, He guided them, He directed their way and told them what Pharaoh would do, and why Pharaoh would do it. Therefore, they should have been resting in the integrity of God’s purpose, power, plan, and person.

Exodus 14:10 And when Pharaoh drew near, [just like God said he would] the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.

God never condemned the people for being afraid, and the first place they went with their fear was the right place. They went to God, and cried out. Pressure will either drive us to God’s side, or will drive us from God’s presence. The people cried out to the Lord, but their trust and confidence was not in God or His word. God said the events that were taking place were for His Glory, and God had given the people this information in advance of the events.

The people went to the Lord. If they had stayed there and found their assurance in Him, they could have had great comfort, and would have gained strength for the next battle. Their attention and affection were not turned to God for very long. Instead, their attention and anger were turned toward Moses.

Exodus 14:11-12 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 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.

Notice something very strange. Not once did they acknowledge that it was God Who brought them up out of Egypt! Blame blinds us to reality. Blame blinds us to God. Blame distorts facts. Blame causes us to believe the distorted facts.

The people gave Moses credit or blame for bringing them out of Egypt. Even worse than giving Moses credit, they totally lost sight of God!! We will see that this is one of the most devastating results of murmuring.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
Psalms 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. 18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. 20 The LORD preserves all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.

Wouldn’t it have been a wonderful story, if the people had known and followed those two passages? Well my friend, we have these two passages. So, the question is, “Will you do as the Israelites did, or will your life’s story be different because you truly applied and lived in God’s commands?”

Exodus 14:11-14 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 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.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

God’s grace always amazes me! If I had been planning the rescue of someone from slavery for 400 years. If I had spent my time and energy doing all those miracles and literally changing the world only to have those rescued people give credit to someone else for my work. I might not have been as gracious as God. If I had been God, I probably would have said, “You want to give Moses credit for what I did? OK! Now let’s see if Moses can get you out of this mess.”

But then, I’m not God.

Psalms 103:7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today.”

God saves Israel as He Promised

There is so much more we should glean from these passages, but let’s go back to our Holy Spirit inspired examples provided by Israel in the wilderness. Let’s pick up the story line again. Earlier in the lesson we left Israel in a humanly impossible predicament: The Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. If they attempted to cross, all would die from drowning. The best they could hope for, from a human standpoint, was renewed slavery or possible death. They then did what came naturally to unthankful hearts: they complained and murmured.

Exodus 14:11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 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.”

Notice God’s response to their unthankfulness and discontentment.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

“Do not be afraid.” “Stand still.” “Hold your peace.” Those things sound like contentment to me.

The Lord did indeed fight for Israel. Israel went through the Red Sea on dry ground with the waters piled up on either side. The Egyptian army followed them into the sea bed, and God brought the waters back to normal. The Egyptians drowned, and Israel was protected by God.

Here are a few more facts to flesh out the summary above:

Exodus 14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians. 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

WOW! Let me tell you! When they gave the altar-call at the close of that service, everyone came to the front for re-dedication!

Exodus 14:30 So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.

There was a revival that day! The people saw the world for what it was – dead. They also saw that God was working, and had worked even in Egypt. We want to come back to that phrase in just a little while. For a time, Israel gave God proper respect, and believed God and His servant Moses. By the way, both will happen when true revival comes. There will be proper respect for God and for the true servants of God.

Look at another fact found in vs 31. It was not until this time that the Israelites really saw what God had done in Egypt, so they could be free. While in Egypt, they were so self-centered that they didn’t really see the hand of God at work in the plagues and their rescue from Egypt. They were blaming Moses for the discomfort involved in their deliverance from slavery, instead of praising God for His work. But that is a subject for another time.

For a short time, Israel’s murmurings ceased, as they turned their attention away from their selfish desires to praising God for His wonderful provision and person. In Exodus 15, we have a wonderful praise service on the banks of the Red Sea.

Now you would think that a service like that, and the participation of the people in all those wonderful activities would set a Spiritual tone that would have changed the nation, and evangelized the world. If a service like the Red Sea experience couldn’t bring revival and worldwide evangelism, What kind of a service will?

Experiences only produce change for as long as the circumstances remain favorable to that change. Experiences, of themselves, can produce nothing but an experience.

Complaints about the Water

Exodus 15:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Three days later, and the Israelites were back in their same carnal rut. They had experienced that wonderful praise service with hand waving, dancing and all that good stuff -- and such a good spirit, but they couldn’t even make it through the Wednesday night prayer service before they were just as carnal as they were before the Red Sea opened for them, three days earlier.

What was God’s response to their discontentment? God sweetened the waters for them, and made a great offer to them, at the same time. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Many of God’s great promises came in the midst of mankind’s worst sinning sprees.

Exodus 15:24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and when he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

This offer of God, to protect them from these diseases, had nothing to do with the Law and the things they could or couldn’t eat under the Law: the Law wasn’t even given yet! This has nothing to do with eating habits, the way they dress, or even speaking in Old King James!

This was a contract made with the nation of Israel, not the individual Israelites, and certainly not New Testament Believers. It has to do with only those diseases that God brought on the Egyptians. Look at the last part of vs 26.

This was a Spiritual exercise that has nothing to do with what or how you eat. Look at vs 26, again. This promise had to do with:

  • >Diligently heeding the voice of God
  • Doing what was right in God’s sight
  • Listening carefully with the intent of following God’s commandments

With so much at stake, surely Israel would trust God to fulfill His promise of taking them to the Promised Land. They had seen that God could take care of them, and wanted to take care of them. Plus now, if they would heed, give ear and do what was right by keeping God’s statutes, they would not have any of the diseases that had been brought upon the Egyptians. Talk about a good health insurance package!

However, we need to remember that just hearing about God’s will and promising to obey God is a lot different than hearing about God’s will and learning to live in contentment. Learning to live in contentment takes purpose and persistence, just like learning any other skill. However, there is one big difference when it comes to learning to live in contentment, you have the power of the Holy Spirit on your side.

Remember that God’s grace is great. Israel murmured, and murmured and murmured. Yet, over and over again, God forgave them, picked them up and put them back on the right path. I’m sure that many of you have experienced God’s grace again and again, many times over. But God’s patience will not endure forever. We need to remember our example…

Psalms 103:7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge His people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

More Complaints about Water – Seriously?

Now that the children of Israel had seen the hand of God save them multiple times, their complaining and discontentment is over, right? Not quite: their memory is short.

Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?” 3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
Contend (Hebrew)
To toss; To quarrel; To grapple; To wrangle; To hold a controversy. Has the idea of seizing another by the hair.

By the commandment of the Lord, they came to Rephidim (remember the pillar of smoke and fire?). God was the One Who gave the orders to camp a Rephidim. The Hebrew word for Rephidim loosely translated means the place of refreshment. But the refreshment stand was fresh out of drinks. To find a refreshment stand in the middle of the desert without drinks, isn’t much of a refreshment stand.

On the other hand, many times the people of Israel had seen God take a bad situation and produce good results. They had seen the plagues. They had the pillar of fire by night and smoke by day as their guide. They had seen the Red Sea part, the destruction of Egypt’s army, the manna, the water of Marah sweetened, etc.

You would think the people would have been saying to themselves, “just can’t wait to see what God is going to do now. After all, we are here by His direction.” That is how all good Christian would have reacted, if we had found ourselves in the same situation, right? You see that is part of the process of learning to be content with what God provides.

As long as mammon is dominating our lives, we will hate God and what He provides. Look at our example, Ex 17:1-7. The last part of verse 2 tells us that they were attempting to temp the Lord. Yes, they were, in effect, grabbing at Moses’ hair (as per definition of contend), but in reality, they were trying to get to God with their jabs. Look at the accusation they brought against Moses. It is the same ‘ole thing!! You would think that with as much time as they had on their hands, they could at least come up with a fresh accusation.

“Moses, why have you gone to all this trouble to bring us out here in the desert to kill us?”

You know, if they had taken just a little time to think before they popped off through that horrible hole in their head called a mouth, they would probably have come up with a different conclusion. The problem with running our mouth before our brain is engaged, is that we say things that we wish we hadn’t said, but none the less, we’ve said it, so we will defend what we said to the death, in more ways than one.

The Holy Spirit through James has something to say about this matter that we might find interesting.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Hum, that does seem to fit the situation of Israel in the wilderness. Oh, yes! It also fits our situation in the wilderness of Texas (or wherever you currently reside.)

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

We know they were at Rephidim by the command of God, and they could have received a blessing from God, but they got carried away by their own desires and it certainly gave birth to a whopping big sin. Look at the God given solution for such a Spiritual dilemma.

James 1:19 Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Folks, if we didn’t learn anything else from this example, this would be worth our time. When you are tempted to utter a murmuring, don’t! Listen a little longer to both the situation and to the Lord. Go home and sleep on it, and make sure that no speech is given in wrath. Because the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God, but only the sinfulness of the flesh. Sometimes we get our way by speaking in a wrathful manner, but we lose the blessing of God. So your actions need to be based on what you really want: your way or God’s blessings.

Back to our example in Exodus 17.

Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?” 3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us or not?

Notice two other things in this passage: First, they expressed concern for their children. That’s a pretty standard cop-out. When all else fails, say “it is for the children.” They also questioned whether the Lord was even in their midst. They must have thought that the Pillar of Smoke wasn’t God. Maybe it was left over from the barbeque pit. After all, how could a loving God allow such a thing to happen to innocent people?

Keep those things in mind, and let’s jump to another very similar situation.

Numbers 20:1 Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there. 2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4 Why have you brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.

Sounds pretty much like the incident in Exodus 17, but this account is about 40 years later than the Exodus 17 account. These are the children of those who came out of Egypt. Very few of these people had ever seen Egypt; most of them had been born in the wilderness.

They didn’t have the Discovery Channel. The New York Times was not delivered to their door daily. There was no CNN. How did these people learn of Egypt? The people of Numbers 20 had learned of Egypt from their parents, the ones we just read about in Exodus 17. These people of Number 20, after 40 years, wanted and longed to go back to Egypt, back to bondage. Why? Because for 40 years their parent had been bad mouthing God and God’s servant Moses, and by words and actions had been praising Egypt!!

The parents of Exodus 17, who came out of Egypt, could have wiped Egypt from the memory of their children. There was no reason for these people to have had any desire to return to Egypt. They had been freed from Egypt, but they willingly became slaves to mammon, therefore they despised God, God’s program and God’s servants. As a result, even after 40 years of God personally dwelling in the Tabernacle, right in the middle of town, their children still did not love God any more than the parents, or maybe the children love God just like the parents, and the children wanted to go back to Egypt just as badly as their parents.

Parents, what you say and the way you say it will, to a great extent, establishes the desires and attitudes of your children. Don’t pass your sins along to your children! That’s not a very good inheritance.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Matthew 12:34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Ouch! If you were to be justified or condemned by your words, would you be justified or condemned?

Results of Murmurings

Murmuring (Greek)
The low constant sound of a running brook; The cooing of doves; The contented sounds of a baby; To grumble in low tones (as the cooing of doves) to oneself or secretly to others; To confer together in a secretive manner about matters of discontent; A secret debate in quarrelsome discontent.

Please keep in mind that there is a difference between muttering and murmuring. Every occurrence of murmuring or its derivatives found, in the Bible, is used in a negative sense. Not only does the Holy Spirit use it in a negative sense, it is presented as downright unacceptable to God.

Here are just a few examples…

Wilderness Examples

Numbers 17:5 And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I [God] will rid Myself of the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against you.

God considers murmurings as something very unpleasant, totally unacceptable and something of which He will rid Himself. That should tell us something about the quality of the sin, and it should spur us on to eliminate murmuring from our own lives, and our church.

Psalms 106:24-27 Then they [Israel] despised the pleasant land; They did not believe His word, 25 But murmured in their tents, And did not heed the voice of the LORD. 26 Therefore He [God] lifted up His hand in an oath against them, To overthrow them in the wilderness, 27 To overthrow their descendants among the nations, And to scatter them in the lands.

Because Israel was in a state of murmuring:

  1. They despised God’s provision -- the land.
  2. They did not believe God’s Word.
  3. They did not heed God’s voice.

Because Israel was in a state of murmuring, and would not repent of it:

  1. God set Himself against them.
  2. God would overthrow them.
  3. God would overthrow their descendants.

Jude Examples

Once again, we see the gravity of this most common action of Believers. Notice the effect on the descendants of these murmurers in the wilderness.

Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Complainers(Greek)
Blaming others and fate (God); Quarrelsome; Discontented.
Lusts (Greek)
A consuming passion for what they do not have or is forbidden; The activities and desires resulting from the diseased condition of the soul.
Great swelling words (Greek)
Bulging over; Over-inflated; Insolent; Expressive arrogance.
Flattering (Greek, context)
Excessive and over inflated compliments and/or kind deeds given in order to gain the allegiance of the one flattered. The purpose of this allegiance is for a personal agenda, usually to cause division, so the flatterer can have more control or acclaim.
Cause divisions (Greek only used once)
To separate from the boundary; Disjoin, so as to form another party or alliance.
Mockers (Greek)
Deriders; To teach by means of jeering; To play like children to get ones own way.

Jude is speaking about murmurers of an earlier time, the time of Enoch. For this lesson, we need to see some of the basic elements of Biblical murmuring, and the results on the murmurer and others. When we refer to murmuring, it is not a reference to an honest complaint brought to the right source for the best possible resolution. We are talking about conditions and actions, whether deliberate or unknowingly, that are designed to weaken a present order with the intent of establishing another order for personal benefit.

A murmurer very seldom wants a proper solution! Murmurers most generally want their own way with distinct disregard for the benefit or harm to others. Jude gives us some real insights into the sin of murmuring:

  1. Murmurers are complainers who blame God, others and fate for their own self-caused discontent.
  2. Murmurers attempt to establish conditions allowing them to live by their own consuming passion in personal comfort, and in an unhindered manner without regard to the proper established order.
  3. Murmurers are often those who speak well of someone and do nice things, but not for the sake of the wellbeing of the person, but to establish their own agenda so as to have personal control and acclaim.
  4. Murmurers often use over-inflated descriptions, aggressive speech in order to intimidate, and present themselves as the number one authority.
  5. Murmurers disjoin others from an established alliance, so as to bring the person within the boundaries of their personal alliance.
  6. Murmurers use the childish methods of deriding and jeering other people or programs without honest facts or solutions regarding the so-called problem.

As we can see, the chronic murmurer has some very distinct characteristics. Let me tell you, after about 50 years in this business, it doesn’t take much to spot a murmurer.

Proverb Examples

Keeping in mind Jude’s description of a murmurer, let’s take a fresh look at this passage in Proverbs.

Proverbs 6:16 These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.

Think for a moment about the last or seventh item mentioned in this list of things that God hates, and are an abomination to Him. To sow discord among the brethren (which is the purpose of murmuring), the sower of discord uses the other six to accomplish the purpose of discord.

It might help to think of the last item, the sowing of discord, as a seed pod. Within that seed pod is: A proud look, A lying tongue, The destruction of innocent people , One who is always making wicked plans, One who will move quickly to any evil or problem, One who freely makes false statements

Those are the elements of Biblical murmuring, and those are the elements of sowing discord and those are things that God hates. We are not talking about a Biblical misdemeanor. We are talking about a Spiritual felony!

I have summarized many of the causes of murmuring, and have designated three of the main causes as:

  1. Selfish discontent.
  2. Absence of true thankfulness.
  3. The absence of Biblical truths, and the application of those truths in every situation.

What do you Desire?

Murmuring (Greek)
The low constant sound of a running brook; The cooing of doves; The contented sounds of a baby; To grumble in low tones (as the cooing of doves) to oneself or secretly to others; To confer together in a secretive manner about matters of discontent; A secret debate in quarrelsome discontent.

If we are to be honest to our study of Israel in the wilderness and the Tabernacle, we will need to see the lessons taught by the Holy Spirit from these God given examples, so we will not sin in the same manner as the Israelites. Which brings me to that age-old question that I have not ask for a while:

Why do you come to church? Is it so you can see and understand God’s standard for living, and see where you stand in relationship to that standard? Is it so you can hear and review God’s method for godliness, and make appropriate changes and by God’s grace live by those methods. Did you come because of guilt, habit, social needs, etc. Why did you come to church, today?

Biblical murmuring can be caused by many sins, or combination of sins. In like manner, the evidence or end result of murmuring will be demonstrated by a wide variety of sinful actions.

Murmuring can be a personal sin, or as we will see in the Biblical example of this lesson, it can be a group sin. Murmuring often starts as a personal sin, but very seldom remains a sin of just one person. Murmuring draws others to its cause like flies to a garbage pit.

Remember, murmuring is the result of three things:

  1. Selfish discontent.
  2. Absence of true thankfulness.
  3. The absence of Biblical truths, and the lack of application of those truths in every situation.

Content in All Things

Like the Israelites we have studied, we find it fashionable to trust God when we have a roof over our heads, food in our stomach, money in the bank, two cars in the garage, in the blossom of full health, etc. But when the chips are down, then God is not quite big enough to trust for the tough times. Someone said that, “When we have plenty, we give God a polite ‘nod’. But when we don’t have all we think we need, we give God the ‘boot’.

If we really trust God in times of plenty, instead of trusting the plenty, then we would trust God just as much in the times of need. When our trust is based on need or what we possess, then when circumstance change, our trust also changes. But when our trust is in God, we will trust just as much in the times of need as in the times of plenty, because God does not change!

Paul in Philippians highlights this truth.

Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things [abased, abound, full, hungry, suffer need] through Christ who strengthens me.

Notice Paul learned to live in this Spiritual state. It didn’t come from praying, going to a praise service, being anointed or even taking the offering. Paul learned to live in this manner. This learning involved both facts and real experiences of life. Yes, God does want to teach us something from all of life’s experiences but, this takes time. Please don’t have the very sallow attitude that is so popular today. When an unpleasant experience comes into our lives, the popular response is: “God please help me to quickly learn what you want to teach me, so this unpleasant experience will be replaced by a pleasant experience.” Wrong answer. You lose.

Certainly, God wants us to learn from every experience, but not necessarily so the bad experience will go away. We may need to learn to live in contentment even in the bad situation, and continue in that bad situation so that God will be glorified.

Paul had learned to live in contentment in the good situations such as: Being elevated, having plenty, being full, etc.

He had also learned to live in contentment in the bad situations such as: Being abased, suffering need, being hungry, etc.

Simply learning some lessons from a bad situation is not a guarantee that the bad situation will go away. As a matter of fact, if we do not learn to live in contentment in the bad situation, we haven’t learned the right Spiritual lesson from the situation.

Love of God or Mammon?

Christ gives us some insight into why we learn so little about being content in Christ in all situations.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

There is far more in the passage than we can examine, in this lesson. I want to draw out of this passage a principle that applies to our subject at hand—murmuring or better yet, how not to murmur. We can only have one factor or person controlling our lives at any one given time. Several things would be good to see from Christ’s statement, but for now, let’s see just a few of the many things in this passage.

There are many factors that can and desire to control our life and living. Something will control our life and living.

We will love or be loyal to the one we allow to control or life and living.

Christ puts all of these things that can and want to control our lives and living, under one heading: mammon.

We quite often define mammon as money. That definition is not false, but it is not complete. It is so incomplete that if we accept mammon as only money, then the definition is false. Mammon is anything we possess, such as our estate, legacy, etc. that can be calculated as our wealth, but not just in the sense of money. When we allow anything, whether things of financial worth, or social worth to control our lives and living, we have surrendered to the master of mammon. That dominating slave master of mammon can be money. At the base of many sins, is the factor of money, or in reality, the love of money. However, the actual dollar bills are probably the least dominate of all that constitutes mammon. As long as Satan can keep our focus only on the dollar and off of lust for things, he has won a great victory in the Spiritual battle.

The slave master of mammon can be:

My comfort

My way

My family

My job

My game

My car

My pfestyle

My kids

My feepngs

My pride

My clothes

My rights

etc., etc.

Whichever one you have allowed to dominate your life and living, whether God or mammon, you will be loyal and love the master in control, and will despise and hate the one not in control. Therefore, if you have allowed any one or a combination of the things that make up mammon (My comfort, My way, My family, My job, My game, My car, My lifestyle, My kids, My feeling, My pride, My clothes, My rights, etc, etc,) to be first place in your life, then you are un-loyal; you despise and hate God.

The major point I want to see from all of that is, if mammon is in anyway in control of your life, then anything that God does for you or with you will not be accepted (by you) as proper, and you will have no contentment. Some of you are living in that dark valley, right now.

Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things [abased, abound, full, hungry, suffer need] through Christ who strengthens me.

Sin or A Way of Escape?

1 Corinthians 10:9-14 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on 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.

1 Cor 10:13-14 states that the tests or temptations in our lives are there because God allowed them to be there so that we could bear them. So, the question might well be asked of us, “If God allowed the test, how don’t we trust Him for the way of escape?”

If God allowed the circumstance that Israel faced in the Exodus, then God had a purpose and a way of escape so they could bear the test. Instead of going to God for their way of escape, they turned against God, tempted Christ and murmured. We should not follow their example.

I trust the passage continues to take on greater and greater meaning as we see it in relationship to its context. Please note that the well quoted verse 13 is in the context of the murmuring of Israel in the wilderness. Certainly, the truth of vs 13 applies to all tests within the Christian life. However, the primary application of vs 13 is to the temptation of murmuring. This sin of murmuring is truly common and universal to all humans.

Here in 1 Corinthians 10 there are several sins of like nature that band together to cause, or to be demonstrated in murmuring. Look at a little of the context on both sides of this passage. Look back to the beginning of this chapter.

1 Corinthians 10:1-8 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things 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;
1 Corinthians 10:9-14 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on 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.

Saying that all these sins are tied together by murmuring is not really a good description. I don’t know how to best picture this truth. However you think of it, you can’t have one without the other. Murmuring against God leads to all kinds of sins, or possibly practicing all kinds of sins leads to murmuring.

Now let’s look at some of the context that follows.

1 Corinthians 10:15-22 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

We didn’t look at all the sins mentioned here, but this whole bundle of sins is all tied together with murmuring. Murmuring is not a stand-alone sin. It is always practiced in combination with other sins. In like manner, very few sins are committed without collusion with other sins. Lying is very seldom, if ever, just a lie. Lying is used to cover up other sins, or because of anger etc. Likewise, with murmuring. Murmuring is a result of a combination of internal and external sins, and each act of murmuring involves different combinations of sins.

Murmuring or Love?

In this phase of our study, our major concern is not with general murmurings about the conditions of life. Our concern is with murmurings about Spiritual matters, and their effect on the Spiritual life of the murmurer and the lives of those to whom the murmurer murmurs.

Quite often, the chronic murmurer will have the exterior look of a very spiritual person. These murmurers do religious things, act in religious ways and speak religious phrases, so as to possibly:

  • Compensate for the dark cloud of murmuring within their own lives.
  • Hide the reality of such a sin from the view of others.
  • Gain a following for their cause, so murmuring can become a campaign to achieve personal goals or revenge.

As observers of and sometimes participants in this sinful phenomenon of murmuring, we need to understand that no amount of good deeds, or even great sacrifices will compensate for the internal and external destructiveness of this sin of murmuring. Look at what the Holy Spirit had to say about this subject of internal vs external.

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

The sin of murmuring or any one of its many faces is the opposite of Divine or Spiritual love. Most of us are familiar with at least the first part of 1 Corinthians 13. Therefore, we will not spend a great deal of time in the passage, except to point out the obvious. These obvious facts are so soon forgotten, or deliberately ignored.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear that a person can look like or even look better than a good Christian on the outside, but if the Spiritual quality is not on the inside, then the exterior look of religiousosity is less than beneficial to the person, or the Body of Christ.

Notice the areas of Spiritual demonstration covered by the Holy Spirit in this passage:

  • The public ministry, itself (though I speak)
  • The research, teaching and leadership of the ministry (though I have the gift, etc.)
  • The demonstration of Spiritual power associated with the ministry (though I have faith to remove mountains)
  • The personal sacrifice for the ministry (though I give of my things and my very life)

You know, most churches would kill to have someone with those qualities as their leader. Yet those qualities alone do not a Spiritual leader make.

As wise stewards of the life and gospel of Christ, we need to have a Biblical standard of evaluating the Spiritual quality of our life and others. Christians, in general, can be so shallow Spiritually! So many have the diabolical concept that if a person has money, status, and things, then it is an obvious confirmation of their Spiritual worth; or if a person can say the right things that smack of high religious rhetoric then they must be living a life of dedication to the Word of God; or if a person gives to others and is willing to sacrifice their own life and living then they must be fully dedicated to God and His purpose.

All of those things can be an indication of gross carnality and total self-centeredness. Notice the divine opinion of these outward evidences when generated from internal motives other than love.

  • To speak without love = sounding brass and a clanging cymbals.
  • To assume the position of Spiritual leadership without love = Nothingness.
  • To give to and serve others without love = No profit.

There is nothing wrong with possessing any or all of the above qualities. As a matter of fact, these are very good qualities to have. But those external demonstrations must emanate from internal qualities that are pure and free from self-elevation and personal vindictiveness. If our external actions are not free from the motivation of self-elevation and personal vindictiveness, then the Word of God is clear that those actions are not Divine, but demonic.

Folks, that is a strong statement. It is way past time for the Church to allow God to purify us, and then we need to get down to the business of real spiritual living rather than a warmed-over demonstration of worldly living and standards.

This little sin of Biblical murmuring has been ignored, tolerated, and even encouraged by the established church far too long. It is time for judgment to begin in the House of God. It is time that we carefully examine and accept what God has to say about this respectable sin.

The best way, yes, the only way of knowing what God says about this sin, is to examine thoroughly the Word of God on this subject. The problem in doing so, is that it is hard to go anywhere in the Bible without finding references to the act and results of murmuring.

A thorough public study of this subject would take more than a full year of lessons. So, instead of doing a complete public study, I want to lay out, in summary form, the overall teaching on the subject. I realize that some will think that this summary must be more than a complete study, but I’m here to tell you, it will only scratch the surface.

We see the act and some of the results of Biblical murmuring early in the history of mankind. The English word for murmuring is not used in many of the Biblical examples, but the fact, reality and results of those accounts give evidence to actions of murmuring.

A Question about Questions

We have been looking at accounts of Israel’s murmurings in the wilderness. We compared those accounts with doctrines in the New Testament. Obviously, we have not exhausted either the accounts of Israel’s murmurings or the New Testament doctrines related to that subject.

There have been several questions raised because of these studies, some of which we will address later in the series. One question needs to be addressed before we move on to the next stage of this series: “If something is wrong, or is not understood, is it wrong to ask about it, or talk to others about it?” Asking about or talking about a church problem is not murmuring if the question is for the purpose of getting facts and an honest answer, the party or parties should go to the sources to establish the real facts, not go to someone who can only give one-sided or fantasized information. If the conversation is for the purpose of building up the church, then the information and suggestion will be brought to the person or persons who can carefully look at the information in light of the present program and purpose of the church.

It will help to keep in mind the three of the major reasons for murmuring: Selfish discontent, Absence of true thankfulness, and the absence of Biblical truths, and the application of those truths in every situation. These are the major causes for murmuring, however a major motive behind most murmuring is revenge, or to get even.

If there is a question or suggestion, and it is continually aired to those who cannot answer the question or evaluate the suggestion then, more than likely, the person is not looking for an answer, or endeavoring to bring improvement to the program. Instead, the purpose is to produce dissent and division. Quite often this dissent and division was not intended to bring harm to the church, but to bring self-satisfaction. Within a church, when self-satisfaction is the motive, it always brings harm to the total body.

Too often, the real answer to the question is not the desired response, because often the real answer would not be to one’s liking. Therefore, through murmuring to enough people, they feel that sufficient pressure can be applied to have the situation go their way.

Look again at the definition of Biblical murmuring.

Murmuring (Greek)
The low constant sound of a running brook; The cooing of doves; The contented sounds of a baby; To grumble in low tones (as the cooing of doves) to oneself or secretly to others; To confer together in a secretive manner about matters of discontent; A secret debate in quarrelsome discontent.

“Because I am not getting what I want, without regard to the well-being of the total body, I will murmur and cause division so that no one receives the intended benefit, nor can the church fulfill its intended purpose.”

Therein is one of the major causes of Biblical murmuring: Selfish discontent. We saw that factor, over and over again, in Israel’s reactions in the wilderness, and also with the early church in the book of Acts.

When Selfish discontent is present, there is usually an absence of true thankfulness for what we already have as a body of Believers. These two factors stem from the absence of Biblical truths and/or the lack of application of those truths to the situation.

So, to answer the question of: If something is wrong, or is not understood, is it wrong to ask about it, or talk to others about it? If it is an honest question, seeking a real Biblical answer, and ask of those who can give an answer, it certainly would not be murmuring. As a matter of fact, that is a very good situation. We need many more such questions asked. Nor would it be wrong to talk about it, if such talk was for edification, and not to cast a person or program in a false light or even a questionable light. An illustration of improper questions and conversations can be seen in Luke 20 and elsewhere.

Luke 20:19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him (Christ), but they feared the people-- for they knew that He had spoken this parable against them. 20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 And they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God truly: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test me?”

In this situation, they went to the right Person with their question, but their question was not from the motivation of receiving an honest answer. As a matter of fact, it didn’t make any difference what the answer would have been, they had already formulated their opinion and plan.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

God Wants to Dwell with Man

God has always wanted and His will has always been to dwell and fellowship with mankind. However, mankind chose to separate themselves from God. This choice was first made by Adam in the Garden. Therefore, for God to dwell with His people, He must do it in such a manner that will not violate the God given right of volition or choice. Another problem standing in the way of God dwelling and fellowshipping with mankind was the matter of sin. A holy God cannot fellowship together with unholiness.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

These two matters of mankind’s right of choice and the inability of a holy God to fellowship with unholiness will be seen in the shadows of the Tabernacle and its services. The implications of these two areas will also be seen in God’s provision for salvation and the standard of fellowship for the church age. The ultimate fulfillment of these two areas will be seen in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

For our introduction or snap shot of this, let’s look at some passages of Scripture. God spoke through Moses to the nation of Israel in the wilderness saying,

Exodus 25:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering……8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

To those in Christ, known as the Church, the writer of Hebrews says in,

Hebrews 8:1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying [Tabernacle in the wilderness]: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Colossians 2:16 Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths [some of the services of the Tabernacle], 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Over and over again, the Holy Spirit reminds us that the Tabernacle in the wilderness with its services are shadows of things to come, and examples for us, so that we might live lives of holiness with Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

Not only is the Tabernacle in the wilderness a shadow of the Heavenly Tabernacle, it also casts shadows showing that the individual Believer is a Tabernacle or Temple of God. This is a fact in the minds of most Christians, but the reality does not seem to show up in our everyday living.

If we really believed that we are the earthly dwelling place for the God of all gods, I’m sure our vocabulary would contain a few less profane words, our conversations would be less defaming of others, there would be less murmuring, and our speech would be filled with honest remarks. Far too often, the evidence in our lives does not match what we say we believe.

Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

Not only are individual Christians Temples of Holy Spirit collectively, all Believers grow into a Holy Temple in the Lord. For this habitation of God to become a reality we are being built together. We will see this shadow of being built together cast by the Israelites, as they built the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

To all those who will spend eternity with God, John writes about this choice and fellowship with God.

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

We don’t have the time to develop this fact, but we must not pass by without noting it. I don’t know where your motives are placed and your efforts spent in this life. If you are giving yourself to the things of the flesh, things of the eye, or the pride of life, those things will pass away! Only the things that are of the will of God will abide forever.

For many Christians, everything they have lived for in this life will be gone, and they will spend eternity without any benefit from this life, except their New Birth. Many Christian will stand empty handed in eternity, because they have given themselves to the flesh, the desires of their eyes and their pride of living, instead of the will of God. It is pretty easy to establish what the will of God is. Now, what job you take, what spouse you take or what school takes you, is a different matter…

We have seen some aspects of God’s will in the passages just read. Let’s glance at a couple areas of that will.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

It’s pretty clear that God’s want or His will is for us to have a pure, clean personal temple. It is equally clear that God’s wants or His will is that His habitation, consisting of all Believers, be properly built. Therefore, all that we do or say, whether at church, home, work or play should be accomplished so that these two aspects of God’s will, will be a reality. These facts are demonstrated and expounded in the Written Word of God from cover to cover.

Anything we do or say that will hinder either personal holiness or the proper building of the collective Temple, called the church, will be judged and pass away.

All in God’s Time

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 50:25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here. 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

The book of Genesis begins with life. We see God’s creative acts, and His gift of life to mankind, animals and plants, and Genesis ends with the words “…in a coffin in Egypt.” It is the story of mankind’s failure to live in a perfect creation. It is the story of sin and death. Yet, from the ruins of mankind’s failure, God promised redemption.

Exodus show Israel’s need for redemption and illustrates God’s provision for redemption. Leviticus, closely related to the truth of Exodus, tells how sinful mankind can worship a holy God in holiness. Deuteronomy is a book of review. Review of their failures and God’s provision, and an amplification of God’s promise for a glorious future that can be theirs by simple obedience. The early part of Exodus, this book of redemption, starts with the account of the birth and life of the one called to lead Israel through the redemptive process.

As a Sovereign God, you would think that God could have just lifted the Israelites out of Egypt and set them down in the Promised Land. That process would have saved a lot of time and trouble. Well, it seems like it to me, anyway. God is sovereign and that is the reason He could not just beam Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. God in His sovereignty gave to mankind a volition when He made man in His Own image.

God can do anything except be untrue to Himself. Therefore, both Israel and Egypt must be willing to transact this process of redemption -- and the people in the land to which Israel would go had to, by their volition, complete their iniquity (Gen 15:16).

Four hundred years, much of it in slavery, prepared Israel for the transition from Egypt to the Promised Land. It took 10 plagues to bring Egypt to the place of willingly allowing such a transition.

There was another method God could have used to free Israel from slavery to Egypt. He could have killed all of the Egyptians. He did kill quite a few. However, if God had used this method, Israel, more than likely, would have wanted to stay right there in Egypt, and would have never made it to the Promised Land. Plus, there were many lessons Israel needed to learn, and many examples that we need. If God had just destroyed all the Egyptians and Israel had stayed, all the promises made to Abraham would have gone unfulfilled. That would have meant that God would have been untrue to Himself, and that He couldn’t do. No, God does His work in the fullness of time.

God being all knowing, knows that just personal comfort is not the most important factor in life. I know, I know! That’s a strange concept, but it’s true! It is God’s will that we grow in holiness to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, God knows that there are times when we need to suffer in order to grow Spiritually. God also knows that with most of us, if our comfort level is too high we would lose all desire for a better country, a heavenly one. Suffering brings Spiritual growth to those who will allow it to do so, and that same suffering can bring Spiritual defeat, if our hope is not in Christ and eternity.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice…

Yes, as Believers, we are to rejoice in God’s abundant mercy, our living hope, our inheritance reserved in heaven and much more. We can really get into such wonderful blessing. We love to hear about them and love to talk about them. but wait there’s more…

1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith-- the salvation of your souls.

All these things of vs 5 that we greatly rejoice in, will be revealed in the last time. There is also another mention of this last time in vs 7 at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s try to tie these together. We want God’s great mercy. We want to live in hope. We revel in the inheritance reserved for us in heaven. We rejoice in those things and just can’t wait until they are revealed in totality, at the last time. The Holy Spirit is careful to tie these all together in a proper package. So, let’s try to follow it.

We greatly rejoice in all these things and we should! Israel rejoiced when Moses met with them and told them that God had heard and was answering their cries for help. However, Israel, like so many of us, thought that if a sovereign God is going to help, then His help will come with no personal discomfort, to them.

If we really stop to think about it, most of what we pray for is that some discomfort will be removed from our lives, either by God giving us better health or by giving us more money. Don’t forget, God’s purpose or His will is long ranged as well as immediate. God is far more concerned with what we become, than just helping us to become comfortable in this sin cursed world.

Israel did well to rejoice in the fact that God was going to deliver. They would have done much better, if they had continued to rejoice in the fact that God was going to deliver, in spite of the somewhat unpleasant delivery process. God promised to deliver them from bondage in Egypt and take them to the Promised Land. However, at no time did God promise that the process of deliverance would be painless or pleasant. But God did promise that His Presence would be with them at all times.

Understanding Deliverance

That brings us to the very crux of holiness vs unholiness. Are we more interested in having a pleasant life in this world, or are we more interested in have the presence of God in our life while in this unpleasant world? Holiness and unholiness are totally non-compatible things. They are as opposite as any two things can be. If you and I, being unholy by nature, attempt to live a holy life in an unholy world, there is going to be conflict.

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

That is why Peter says thus:

1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith-- the salvation of your souls.

There is a divine purpose in those trials. God’s will for you is, that the genuineness of your faith can be tested and found to the praise, honor and glory of Jesus Christ at His revelation or we call it the Second Coming.

Yes, we are going to receive something from Christ at that last time, and in that we rejoice. However, at that last time, Christ should receive something from us. That something should be a faith that has been proved genuine not fickle or fake but real, because we trusted His Presence through the trials instead of trusting our pleasant circumstance.

Be careful of the demonic doctrine of “If you are doing the ‘will of God’, everything will turn up roses.” If you are going to know victory over sin, if you are going to have holiness within an unholy world, there will be trials! If our faith is in His Presence instead of in our pleasure, we will receive an inheritance and Christ will receive from us genuine faith. To Christ, that genuine faith is more precious than the finest of gold. Plus, if our faith is in His Presence instead of our pleasure, we will have joy inexpressible and full of glory! But to receive that inheritance from Christ, and to give to Christ genuine faith at His revelation, will require a little discomfort on our part, right now. This whole thing depends on our value system.

Israel wanted deliverance, but they wanted a pleasant deliveranc. They were far more concerned with their pleasure than with God’s Presence. Therefore, when conditions caused them displeasure, they despised and even questioned God’s Presence.

We, like Israel, have placed our pleasure or comfort far above the Presence of God. Therefore, we turn to murmuring against God, instead of praising God for Who He is, and for His Presence with us in all our sorrows, joys, pleasures and trials.

Israel praised God when circumstances were pleasant, (such as the defeat of Egypt’s army) but murmured and disdained God when circumstances were less that pleasant, but God’s presence was just as real at Egypt’s defeat as it was when there was no water. Israel, like us, trusted in pleasant circumstances instead of the presence of God.

Exodus 16:2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 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. 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

Please let your minds run way back to the first lessons this series (https://thinkthebible.org/stood-afar-off), and think with me about the event where the people said that they did not want to have God talk to them personally. As a result, they stood afar off while Moses drew near to God.

Exodus 20:18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” 20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Remember, there is purpose or in the tests of life. God gave Israel manna to test them to see whether they would walk in His law. The people failed that first test with the manna. It was a sure bet, that when it came time to give the law, they would fail the second test, and most of the tests to follow. They did. A test that could have and should have made each of them a priest in the very Presence of God… they failed.

Christ said that those who are faithful in the little things, like manna, would be faithful in the big things like the presence of God and His law. Failure in doing God’s will was a habit now. Not only did they fail the test, they ran from the presence to God. Adam & Eve did the same thing in the Garden. I don’t know where you are in your tests of life, but don’t blow it.

Look again at what Peter had to say on this subject.

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

You’ll miss a lot, if you don’t learn to suffer properly. Israel missed being in the very presence of God, and going into the Promised Land. They missed it all! How much are you going to miss, just so you can have a little personal pleasure, or revenge?

Hebrews 3:18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
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