“The people fell to grumbling over their hard life. God heard. When he heard his anger flared; then fire blazed up and burned the outer boundaries of the camp.” Numbers 11:1 Message
After 400 years of slavery, of previous generations only hoping for freedom, the day came when God fulfilled His Word in the lives of His people. The hardship of Egypt was past, the miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea, all testaments to God’s faithfulness to perform His Word. Their celebrations and dancing at the death of their enemies, their altars built to declare that Jehovah was their Deliverer, were all over and the realities of walking to the promise was now facing them.
You mean, it isn’t all free sailing from here? I don’t get to leave Egypt and enter into a life of luxury and ease? Their unhealthy expectations were quickly brought to the surface as they began their journey towards the promise. They did not like the journey of trust, they did not like the things or the way God provided. They all of a sudden forgot 400 years of struggle, of pain and brokenness, 400 years of longings unfulfilled, of the sweat and tears of those who had gone before them. They were ready to abandon a God who had been faithful to them, simply because they did not like His method that required something of them.
What was God looking for really? Could it be that all of the times He had told them to remember their deliverance, was because He knew that once we begin to forget where He has brought us, we will quickly become a people of frustrated expectations and ungrateful hearts? How can a people move from dancing one day to provoking the anger of God another? What makes us forget Egypt?
Maybe on the journey to the promise we thought we would be able to celebrate our independence rather than celebrate God’s faithfulness? Maybe we believed that life would get easier and we would not have to fight for the things we were to take hold of? Maybe we had a preconceived idea of what deliverance should look like that was false and left God out? If these are potential beliefs we have held onto, then our christian journey will be a disappointment. We will be frustrated, and it will quickly be said of us, “the people fell into grumbling over their hard life.”
Could God just be wanting something very basis here from His people, and from us? Remember Him. For when we forget what He has brought us through we will begin to compare ourselves with others, and with our preconceived ideas of how God should work. When we do this, ingratitude will rise up, because whether we like it or not, God is not subject to our plans. He will not conform to our pattern of thinking. We must conform to His.
A heart that is not willing to conform to God’s idea of life will be a frustrated and ungrateful heart.
Before we are too hard on the children of Israel, can you find yourself in there somewhere? Tired of the same food, tired of walking the same road, weary of lack of progress? What is your response to these places? Gratitude to a God who has brought you this far or frustration because deliverance didn’t look like you thought it should?
Maybe it is time to expose grumbling and complaining for what it really is, sin.
Today I am grateful to a God who picked up this teenage girl and placed her on a path of love and liberty. I am reminded today that without Him, I would be stuck in Egypt and a slave to a former life. I confess, like the children of Israel, I have been found grumbling when things did not go as I thought they should, but I am so thankful that He is transforming my thinking. I want to conform to His pattern of thought and lay mind on the altar of surrender. If things never look like I think they should, may this heart be found praising instead of complaining.
Susan Craig says:February 26, 2015 at 2:52 am
There is a saying that goes like this-If we are not grateful for all we have,we will never be trusted with more. Why would God give us more tomorrow when we don’t appreciate all His blessings in our lives today? The children of Israel were no different than we are today-at least if we are honest enough to admit it. As a mother of 3 boys,I would often hear one or more of them complaining when they did not think they were treated fairly-they did not to have less than they saw their brothers getting. Is that not what we do when we see others with more than we have? The heart seems to never be satisfied -we are always wanting more. It is the appetite that cries for more that will never be filled. When God supplies what we need but it is not what we asked for, do we not become unsatisfied and want something better?? This attitude is at the root of unthankfulness. Godliness with contentment is what we must strive for-being content with what God provides for us and being satisfied enough that we continue to thank God for His goodness to us and become more like Him in the process. Paul knew what it was both to be in want and to be full-both sides of the coin. But he learned to be content either way-it did not come naturally to him but he did learn to be satisfied no matter what he was experiencing. Lord help us to be content and satisfied with all you have given us each day. May we not complain when things are not as we expect all the time. Help us to thank you for your provision daily as our needs are met in you. Help us to share with others willingly out of our abundance.
Pat McRae says:February 26, 2015 at 8:54 am
Oh dear, I have always been able to relate to the Israelites and their attitudes and complaints regarding certain things happening in their life in the dessert.
So here is ‘toast’ speaking to you today!
God and I were having a conversation about this very topic this morning as I washed the dishes. Why do we grumble and complain about nothing serious so often? Even yesterday at Prayer and Fasting we as a group had a conversation about this topic. Just this week I found myself grumbling and complaining not really to anyone but me. Now you have to realize God delivered me from this lifestyle just in the last few years. So I have had many years of perfecting my technique, and my reasoning powers during this time of grumbling and complaining are very superior, to the point I have the victory in my camp every time, in my eyes. So I was washing the dishes thinking about the conversation yesterday and my morning of grumbling and complaining and I asked God how do we get into this habit? Everything He told me I already knew but had never really paid attention to before.
It usually starts because our perception of fair, right or wrong. We feel life is not fair in one small insignificant way and all of a sudden we are grumbling and complaining about the last 20 years. As soon as we accept this one small thought of fair, right or wrong, that the enemy has planted, we open the door for more of his little thoughts. He is quick to see when we feel we have been offended by a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a family member or life in general. Our acceptance of the offence opens the door and he slips in, quietly at first but if we are willing to listen he has us worked up, blowing steam and rolling down the wrong track before we even know what is happening. The bottom line is we have held onto the perceived offence, opening the door by listening to the wrong voice. I wonder how many marriages, friendships, jobs and families would of been saved if we didn’t allow the enemy access to our thoughts by giving the offence to God and letting Him deal with it in His way in His time. For me I can think of 2 marriages, a few friendships and a few jobs.
I am thankful this morning that I have been able to witness growth in my Christian walk. That morning as I grumbled and complained because my self-centred life had been offended I remember asking God to help me stop it over and over again. Every time it started I would get that ‘yucky’ feeling, that says ‘wrong way’. So I would cry out to God again. But it was a whole morning of crying out only to find myself right back in the thick of grumbling and complaining again. Finally very close to noon I heard God speak, He was likely talking way before then but I wasn’t listening to busy grumbling you know. He said, “Put praise and worship music on, it will fill your mind leaving no room for the enemy.” Oh I was quick to obey and you guessed it the enemy left and I enjoyed the rest of my day with my mind stayed on Him. So when I read in the ESV Bible ‘ and the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes’ I can relate! I am thankful that with maturity comes surrender, and with surrender comes the knowledge that if I have given it all up to Him I have nothing to be offended about because it all belongs to Him now. My life is not my own, it belongs to Him. And I have to say I am really thankful I heard His voice and did not have to witness His bolt of lightening to toast me!
Have a wonderful day, fill it with praise!
Susan Craig says:February 26, 2015 at 4:26 pm
Oh Pat, your story sounds so familiar-complaining indeed becomes a habit-a bad one that begins with just one small seed. The key to victory is to ask the Lord to help us change the record in our brain to one of praise and gratitude. It is all about focus-where we allow our thoughts to graze-feeding on the Word of God is a good way to replace our negative thoughts with God’s words. Your story today has inspired me-I am having a day starting with negative thoughts so I will follow your example and change the record. This day has started looking better already!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanking the Lord for His wisdom and His instruction!! Have a blessed day!!! 🙂
Pat McRae says:February 27, 2015 at 8:33 am
Susan I hope you had a better day as you overcame those negative thoughts in His strengthen. I am so glad He sees our hearts and allows us to seek Him with our minds. My own blog gave me a smile already today I have those grumbling Israelites in the dessert! I bet it was sticky pie, feet stuck in the ruts made by walking around that mountain one more time. You bless me with your comments so my heart smiles all the bigger as my heart fills with gratitude for you. I think you have the gift of encouragement as I read your comments. Blessings to you
Jim Holmes says:February 26, 2015 at 11:34 pm
We have an awesome God…and for Him to have put up with my own foolishness. I am forever grateful for His mercy. There have been many a time I have saddened Him. It is only by His grace that I live. God is surely a purifying fire who desires a pure bride for His Son. Let us humble ourselves before Him…hear His call…and give Him all the glory due His name…to honour the name above every name…Jesus. I think of the two disciples walking with Jesus to Emmaus, looking for Him after He was not found in the tomb, and they did not know that He was Jesus…until He broke bread with them. In Luke 24:32 the disciples said: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Let us be careful not to forget, not to turn aside, but to remember the goodness of our God…to remember our first love…to “know Him”. May the fire that you know within, be a baptism of fire that makes you zealous for the Lord, and with a heart filled with His desire.
Pat McRae says:February 27, 2015 at 9:45 am
Good morning Jim, love your comments today. Funny how we ask for the fire and He turns it up just a wee bit and our mind takes us from the frying pan into the fire screaming all the way. I think my heart is on the right path now I just have to keep this wandering mind where it belongs. Have a blessed day
Sue Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 12:08 am
Wow. I am pretty sure after reading this that I can claim to have been a true Israelite … just not in the best way possible. I’ve been a slave. I’ve been delivered – for me it was through the cross rather than the Red Sea. I’ve experienced moments of celebration and times when it seemed I just couldn’t praise Him enough. But, I’m sad to say that when the going got rough there have been times of grumbling & whining. I thank God that this is a learning process & that we aren’t expected to be birthed into the kingdom having it all right the first time around. I thank Him for His generous patience & forgiveness.
This also reminds me of how too often when we introduce someone to Christ we give the impression that all they need to do is say a ‘sinner’s prayer’ and it will be smooth sailing all the way to eternity. Then they hit the bumps in the road and all of a sudden God is the bad guy.
I am thankful today for each of the people God has placed in my path … victims & victors alike. There has been something to learn from each. I am grateful that I have experienced His mercy. I am grateful for the Word that transforms and for each new day to continue that process.
Pat McRae says:February 27, 2015 at 8:49 am
Hi Sue you gave me a light bulb experience with your comment today. The Israelites were washed in ‘red’ (blood) Red Sea as they walked through and we are washed in Jesus blood making us all His children. Still have to give this some more pondering and ask the Holy Spirit to open the thought more for me, but thanks I treasure these light bulb experiences. Thanks! Have a wonderful day!
Sue Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm
I’m happy to share my lightbulb with you today Pat. God gets all the credit for this one. 🙂
As I was reading last night the symbolism jumped out at me. It was no coincidence that it was the “Red” Sea that was parted to allow for their deliverance. Even the parting of the Red Sea reminds me of the parting of the veil in the temple. God was telling me that the Israelites journey was truly a picture of our journey. Their deliverance is a ‘reader’s digest’ version of what was to be done for us centuries later.
Still mining some gold out of this one myself. Have a great day on that beautiful Island. 🙂