Do you complain like the Israelites?

photo credit: slopjop via photopin cc
photo credit: slopjop via photopin cc

Have you ever read a Bible story and thought, If I had been there, I wouldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have eaten that fruit in the garden of Eden. I wouldn’t have denounced Jesus three times. I wouldn’t have complained in the wilderness like the Israelites did…

And it is hard to fathom. I’m thinking if I had lived through the 10 plagues, seen the Red Sea parted, the Egyptian army obliterated, and God in the fire/cloud, I might have had a bit more faith than those complaining Israelites.

Exodus 16:3 “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt…”

But if I’m honest, complaining is human nature and I do it far more often that I should.

Today I was reading Exodus 16-18 and contemplating complaints…

What does this passage say about God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit?

Exodus 16:4 “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.”

God tests us. It’s a fact of life. How often do we do what we know God wants us to do? How often do we complain about our circumstances?

What does this passage tell us about people, life or faith?

When people are scared or have physical needs, they have a tendency to complain. They look to the past and think, I was so much better off then. But they forget that back then, they were complaining too. They weren’t happy as slaves in Egypt. Quite the contrary:

Exodus 3:7 “Then the LORD told [Moses], ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.'”

I know when I see pictures of me in past, I think how much better (thinner) I looked then. But at that point in time, I wasn’t satisfied with my appearance. I wanted to be thinner. Sad, sad, sad. How might things have been better if I had been satisfied with myself then?

Why did God put this passage in the Bible?

This portion of the book of Exodus–the story of the Exodus–has been recorded to show the power and might of the LORD for future generations. We see this purpose again in this section when Moses and Aaron fill a jar with manna to preserve it for future generations so that “Then the later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.” Exodus 16:32b. The jar eventually ended up in the Ark of the Covenant with the 10 commandments (Exodus 17:34).

photo credit: sarahbest via photopin cc
photo credit: sarahbest via photopin cc

Have you ever wondered what manna tasted like? “It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.” (Exodus 16:31).

photo credit: Flооd via photopin cc
photo credit: Flооd via photopin cc

 

 

And it was only in existence for 40 years, after that no one saw or tasted it again. (Exo 16:35).

How does this passage relate to my life?

Wouldn’t it be great if people knew you as a person who never complained? I have often thought that would be high praise. But it is SOOOO hard. We want to complain, to illicit sympathy from others, or just to vent difficult circumstances. It’s good to address things that bother us. If we don’t, then they fester (I’m picturing a big pimple here about to bust). But complaining doesn’t make that pimple smaller, it’s makes it larger.

How can I put this truth into practice?

I am going to see how long I can go without complaining. Whenever I’m tempted to complain, I am going to find something to thank the LORD about instead.

What about you?

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2 thoughts on “Do you complain like the Israelites?

  1. I’ve always been big on looking for the positive rather than the negative. Perspective skews so much of one’s life. I’d rather have the joy of seeing the good than the stress of always looking for the bad. And no one likes to hang around someone who is always “woe is me!” 😉

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