COMPLAINING – ‘IDEALIZING THE PAST, TO CRITIQUE THE PRESENT’

(cf. Exodus 16)

Did you know that ‘complaining’ is not simply a bad attitude? It’s really a grievous sin against the Person of God and His trustworthiness. Complaining may go by different names, such as murmuring, griping, whining, grumbling, beefing, belly-aching, & moaning. We all know what complaining means; we all complain one time or another. The sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. They grumbled about this, they grumbled about that, and they grumbled about everything else. They grumbled against Moses, but it was really against God. They were a slave nation for hundreds of years. They weren’t used to having things done for them, and here they are griping about their provisions. It’s interesting to me, as i read rabbinical Judaism, to know that the Jews turned this whole period of wilderness wandering into an idealistic time; they called it the honeymoon period between Yahweh and His people. Because all this time that God was with them, and provided all their needs, but during that experience they were terribly griping and complaining about everything. These people’s attitude was really something else, and they even had the nerve to say, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death”. Now, here’s the idea that God was the cause of their present misery, “why didn’t God just kill us in Egypt, instead of you (Moses) bringing us out here and dying of hunger and thirst here in the desert!”. Do you catch the kind of attitude they had? They weren’t trusting God!They had seen the Red Sea split; they had seen the Egyptian soldiers die. They had seen the 10 plagues. They had seen the hand of God in the pillar of cloud that was with them, and yet they continually griped. This thing about them eating meat and bread to the full in Egypt, and reminiscing the good old days; well they weren’t really so good. Remember they were slaves in Egypt, and no slaves could eat all they wanted. They didn’t have that much food. It’s really a pathetic case of idealizing the past to critique the present (aren’t we all guilty of this?). Did they really think Moses went to all that trouble; got drafted by God, and went to all that hassle to bring them out of slavery and kill them intentionally in the desert? Sometimes we say the dumbest things ourselves whenever we get under pressure and tired. I think complaining is typical of all fallen humanity, as it all started with Adam and Eve.

It’s very interesting about God providing manna (bread of heaven), and everything else to these stiff-necked people is really a means for God to test His people. The word ‘test’ could mean like checking a medal or a coin, or something, or it could mean test by smelling something like smelling tuna fish in the ice box to make sure it’s still good. Well the idea here is God testing His people for their well-being, to strengthen them, to encourage them – to test toward approval and not for destruction. I think the whole Bible is a series of God testing us. It starts back in Genesis 22 where God tested Abraham. We see that God tested Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. We see that God tested the early church. God tested the Apostles, and God will test you. God will test you not to destroy you, but to make you stronger, and make you trust Him more. I think that’s the ideal here about us going through ‘the wilderness experience’ of our lives. The caveat is – NEVER COMPLAIN! It is against God!