Grumbling and Complaining

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2008

In the Bible, we read about a group of people who wanted something very badly. The Israelites wanted to be free. They were forced to be slaves in the land of Egypt. God heard their prayers, and sent Moses and Aaron to bring them out of Egypt. The Israelites were very happy to be free. But their freedom was not as easy as they thought it would be. After God freed the Israelites, they began to murmur and complain against God and Moses.

In Exodus 16, we read that the Israelites started to get hungry. They began to complain, saying that they wished God had let them die in Egypt—at least they had food as Pharaoh’s slaves. God heard their cries, and gave them a special food called manna. God gave them this bread from heaven for forty years while they lived in the wilderness. But after a while, the Israelites got tired of eating manna. They whined, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt…but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Numbers 11:4-5).

On another occasion, the children of Israel spoke against God and Moses, blaming them for setting them free from Egypt. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?,” cried the people (Numbers 21:5). They kept mumbling and complaining, so God sent poisonous snakes among the people that bit them and killed many of them.

After looking at God’s reaction to murmuring and complaining, we might think He was too hard on the Israelites. But the Israelites were questioning God’s power and His promises to help them. Even in the New Testament, we read that we should, “do all things without murmuring and disputing” (Philippians 2:14). We also read that God dealt with the Israelites as He did in order to show us today how seriously God views griping and complaining (1 Corinthians 10:9-10).

When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was tortured and punished for sins that He did not even commit. Yet, never once did He murmur or complain against God. Instead of complaining about the things we do not have, we should be thankful to God, like Jesus was, for the many wonderful things we do have. And always remember what happened to the grumbling, mumbling, griping, complaining Israelites.


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