16:1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” Exodus 16:1-12
14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
How often do I think, “I wish I had…” or “Why do I have a headache again?” or “Has God forgotten me?”or “Why am I still fighting this sin?” Why, why, why. It’s clear in Scripture that it is ok to ask God why (Psalms & Job) as long as it comes from a trusting and obedient soul. But, trust is no where in the statements above. Those statements sound like I’m whining. Life isn’t the way I want it. I want a nice, easy life. I want a car that doesn’t break every half hour. I want to have perfect health. I want a husband & children. I want my sanctification process to be over and done, can’t I just be perfect?
“Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
Ouch. My grumbling & questioning is a direct affront on God’s character. I might as well be looking Him in the face and charge Him with not knowing what He is doing, not being loving, and not doing what is good for me. Every time I complain, grumble, or question His will; that is what I am doing.
I find it interesting that Paul draws a direct correlation between not grumbling and being blameless & shining in the world. Grumbling and questioning is equated with the crooked and twisted generation, the world. It’s not a nice extra. Actually, there is no option. Paul (God) commands us in Phil. 2 to do ALL things without grumbling and questioning. And to do that we must have complete trust in our God and Savior. (But, that’s a completely different topic that I’ll get to at some point in another post. For now, let me recommend this sermon: Total Trust) All things, means all things. EVERYTHING. Complaining is a serious thing to God. It is a direct slam of His character.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I read and contemplate this command, I feel overwhelmed. But, there’s something else that strikes me in these passages. God’s patience and kindness. He should have struck the Israelites dead (or at best leave them to wander in the wilderness alone). And He does gently rebuke their complaining, but He also provides them with bread and meat! He grants their whining requests and reminds them Who He is…all at the same time. In Philippians Paul doesn’t say that if you do not grumble, then you are children of God. No! It is assumed that the people in Philippi are ALREADY children of God, with all the love and rights of being in that family.
God is patient and kind. He loves His children, He sent His Son to die for them. He knows our frame (Ps. 103:14). He does not expect us to run the marathon at lightning speed. He knows we are slow. However, He doesn’t expect us to sit and never race. Hence the reason we’re given a command. But, He empowers us to obey that command. We’re adopted heirs. We’re redeemed sinners. He loves us more than we can comprehend. He will finish the work that He began.
And the gospel is yet another reason to never complain. I have been saved, snatched from Hell. What else could I want? My eternal residence has been secured. I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. Now that’s a reason to party! :D