Summary: As the Israelites left Egypt, we expect them to be overjoyed and happy because their prayers for deliverance were finally answered, but instead we find an ungrateful and irreverent nation. How often we grumble between Egypt and the promised land.
Grumbling in the Camp
Introduction: There is always something to complain about, even when there isn't. We can find a grievance if we want to. No matter how unreasonable it is. We grumble when its too hot, we grumble when it's too cold. We grumble when it rains. We grumble when it snows. We grumble when the weather has been too sunny for just a day longer than we would like it to be... and that is just with the weather. Yikes!
My niece Brinley came back from her first day of school and told her mother that she was upset with her friend. Her mother said “why?” she said “She is just so bossy!” Her mother then asked her “what makes you say that she is bossy?” she said “because she never does anything I tell her to!!” True story.
Sadly, there are times when adults act as immature as children, We study Israel's experiences because they teach us timeless lessons. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 - “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” And the apostle Paul wrote “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did . . . . We should not test the LORD as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.” - I Cor. 10:6-10
In the camp of Israel during their journey to the Promised land, you would think that the camp would be overjoyed for their new found freedom. They were leaving bitter bondage behind and were traveling toward the promised land. But instead of rejoicing we read, that the Israelites were grumbling.
So let's begin this morning by investigating their complaint.
The grumblers' complaint
Exodus 16:2 “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”
First of all, this isn't the first time they grumbled. In Ex. 14:11 Before God split the Red Sea, they said to Moses “was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” And before that in Exodus 5:21 when they had to make bricks without straw they said to Moses “.. 'May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us'.” So let's understand that this is not a singular instance, this is habitual, this is a spiritual problem.
Notice where they grumbled. “In the desert” When things aren't to our liking we do tend to complain. We grumble when the atmosphere and circumstances we are in are:
1)Unpleasant – The desert was not a place flowing with milk and honey. It didn't bring forth fruit like the tree planted by the river. The land didn't accommodate their desires. It was dry and hot. Our patience seems to diminish as the heat rises, doesn't it? The journey to the promised land itself was not supposed to be pleasant. Just as our journey through life isn't filled with constant ease, comfort, and pleasure, we go through trials and hardships because we live in a fallen world. But the good news is that God makes sure that until we get to the promise land we will be provided for. And even though they were told this, it didn't stop them from doubting and grumbling, no more than it stops people today when they are told the same. Accusing God of having a hidden agenda is one of the worst things we can do. We should be grateful that he didn't throw the clay away. Does a clay pot argue with the potter and say “Stop it! Stop it! You are doing it wrong! I must have this and I must have that!? How clumsy you are with me!”
2)Unfamiliar – They were used to being in Egypt, not in the desert and they couldn't stop doubting, even though they had the promise of deliverance, even though they had seen God plague Egypt frogs, lice, locusts, they saw the river turn to blood, even though the angel of death passed over their own homes and spared their children, even though they saw the Red Sea open and their own feet walk across on dry ground. Even though they saw an army trying to kill them be blocked by a pillar of fire, and then flooded by the same water God held open for them, It still wasn't enough apparently to convince the Israelites to trust in God. We fear the unknown, or unfamiliar. We are comfortable in familiarity, but when shaken or driven out of it, we are tempted to complain.