Part 1 – Part 2
SIXTH, no water?
Exodus 17:1-4, All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
Again, the water problem just like the 2nd complaint. Now, Moses couldn’t stand it. God provided a way out by commanding Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, verses 5 and 6. This was not Moses’ sin because God Himself commanded him to strike the stone. Moses’ sin is in Numbers 20 when they were in the wilderness of Zin, they faced the same problem. And because Moses could not stand Israel’s murmuring, he hit the rock twice in verse 11. Whereas God told him to only say God’s command (His Word) to the rock to bring out water.
Exodus 17:7, And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
This 6th complaint is starting to fall into the category “they have put God to test!” Yes, those who complain are those who don’t believe God is in their midst. They do not believe in His power, and their complaints deny the real intervention of God in their lives. And they are positioning themselves as the object of God’s irreversible wrath.
To be honest, many times we can’t deny life often goes completely against our will. So if we can’t be thankful for all of these, at least close our mouth to not complain!
SEVENTH, can’t wait?
Exodus 32:1 (to 35), When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Being patience is not determined by how long we can endure waiting but how our attitude reacts to respond to what we are waiting for. And this will be real from the first time a complaint comes out of our mouth.
Complaining is related closely to idolatry. Those who complain have a divided and disloyal heart. And quickly we can turn to other matters, including leaving God behind. Try asking ourselves, what is our reaction now to a prayer that has not been answered to this day? How many of us would still come humbly to God and ask for it again? Or how many would have said (with a grumpy face), I will not! Yes, many would have stopped praying for a long time, stopped coming to Him again. But whoever stops praying and stops worshiping God because of unanswered prayer, has started to worship himself and his own desires. This is our golden calf, our ego! Exodus 32:4.
EIGHTH, bad luck?
Numbers 11:1-3, And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah because the fire of the LORD burned among them.
It is undeniable that living in the wilderness for a long time is not easy. Not to mention that they were depending on God’s leading, which was through the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire in the night (Numbers 10: 34-36). It sounded so great, God was leading them miraculously. But its practice was not that easy at all. Because when the pillar of God was lifted up, they had to come along directly. They had to pack up everything and move. When the pillar stopped, they had to stop, unpacked everything again. Sometimes they would stop for weeks or months, and when they started to feel comfortable to where they stay, the pillar of God rose up again. Sometimes, when they just arrived at a place, they hadn’t unpacked everything and rested enough, the pillar was raising up and moving again. It was hard and difficult for them to live like this in the wilderness. If you were there, could you follow the pillar of God without complaining?
It could just be that the Israelites did not want to follow God’s pillar. If they decided to stay behind when the pillar of cloud left during the day, they would be detached from the shadow of the cloud that protected them from the scorching sun in the desert. Likewise at night, if they decide to stay asleep when the pillar of fire departs, they could die from the cold caused by warm of the pillar of fire that had left them. After all, if they were left behind, they would be easy targets for the Amalekites who like to attack the very last end of the Israelites companion in the wilderness. God’s guidance is His protection for us, try not to complain when He commands us to walk again.
NINTH, craving for nice meals?
Numbers 11:4-34, Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Now the manna was like coriander seed and its appearance like that of bdellium.
In the Old Testament, Egypt has always been the symbol of this world which is full of comfort and the pleasure of sinful human life. Many of the biblical characters who had ever been to Egypt would have returned with a deeply attached sin. The story of Abraham going to Egypt (Genesis 12) brought Hagar who gave birth to Ishmael for him (Genesis 16), an act that tried to help God fulfill His promises. This was Abraham’s sin for which we all still suffer because of it, suppose Abraham hadn’t gone to Egypt! Lot, who back stabbed his uncle and chose the Jordan Valley because it was like Egypt (Genesis 13:10). God forbade Isaac to go there, Genesis 26:2. Jacob was brought by God to Egypt in Genesis 45-46 with all of his children and families. At the end they were enslaved for 400 more years there, fulfilling God’s prophecy to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16.
Egypt in the Old Testament is like the world in its current state now, providing such a comfortable lifestyle. And many of God’s children yearn for all of this instead, notice our aim in this life: blessing and success. We are longing for Egypt. We do not want to take up the cross and deny the flesh, we love the world and everything in it. God is pursued only to get blessings, success, money, health, long life, and everything. We are never really interested in Who He is and His Character. We never really wanting His presence in us, which is His true blessing!
Notice what they wanted in Numbers 11:4-34, Now the rabble (the bastards, in Indonesian translation) that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Now the manna was like coriander seed and its appearance like that of bdellium.
Compare to 1 John 2:15-17, 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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Our hearts like to complain because our many unfulfilled desires show how bastard we are before God. Just read all of Numbers 11 and see how the end of those who are full of greedy lust in verses 33 and 34. While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.
Numbers 14:1-4, Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
We are now back to the 10th complaints of the Israelites in Numbers 14. They complained after hearing the report of the 10 spies in Numbers 13:31-33, Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” They refused to believe what Joshua and Caleb said in verse 30.
Their rejection was a rejection to God, nevertheless, God would still forgive them due to the prayer of Moses, Numbers 14:49. But in verses 20-23, the LORD said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.
Once again, God only needed 10 plagues to get Israel out of Egypt. But it took him 40 years to get Egypt out of their hearts. In the end, they not only wandered around for 40 years in the wilderness, but none of them of the first generation that came out could enter the promised land as they all died there. There were all killed by their own complaints. God made an exception to Joshua and Caleb. But not to Moses, who could only look from afar into the promised land just before he died on Mount Nebo, Deuteronomy 32:52.
Tragic, all of that was only because of an ungrateful heart and mouths which could not hold back to always grumble and complains. Try reading and meditating on Deuteronomy 8.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13, For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them, God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now, these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now, these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Try to pay attention to the word murmur in English which means to grumble and complain when you would google it.