Summary: Moses, Pt. 6 of 15
LIVING IN THE PRESENT (EX 16:1-21)
I read a true account of a billionaire who purchased an expensive $20-million jet which transported him between Los Angeles and New York. He collected works of art by contemporary masters to hang in his homes, bought identical wardrobes for clothing on both coasts, and owned two homes in Los Angeles and two in New York.
In the hope of gaining a companion the billionaire bought a parrot and taught his pet bird to speak. It was a great start. The bird was able to pick up simple words easily, and just a few words from the parrot such as "Hi!" "Good morning!" and “How are you doing?” would thrill and satisfy the owner. He enjoyed the daily task of teaching the bird new words.
One day the owner realized that the parrot was merely repeating whatever he was taught. Finally, when he was tired of the empty chatter, he shouted at the bird in his frustration and anger, “SHUT UP!” Of course, the bird gave him a dose of his own medicine. How did the bird respond? By shouting back “SHUT UP!”
Someone wisely said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Not long after the Red Sea deliverance, Moses faced a trying experience in the wilderness. The people grumbled non-stop. They were chronic grumblers. The Hebrew word for murmur is the same word for staying, tarrying, or lodging all-night. Grumbling is a annoying lingering houseguest that is hard to rid of. The Hebrew word for grumble made its debut in the desert three days after the miraculous spectacle under the sea (Ex 15:22-24). The second grumbling incident now erupted in the middle of the second month (16:1-2). The words grumbled (16:2, 7) and grumblings (16:7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 12) appears eight times altogether in Exodus 16, more than any chapter in the Bible. The grumbling heightened and intensified, and this time the victim the Israelites involved Aaron (v 2).
Why is grumbling a present hindrance to past progress? How does God view His people who moan and groan at the first sign of trouble? What kind of attitude adjustment do we need?
RELAX AND REJOICE IN THE LORD
16:1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "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." (Ex 16:1-3)
People forget the good they receive the moment adversity arrives. Worse, they wish for death more than life or they wish they were never given life. Suicide ambushes them at the time when not all is lost.
Controversial baseball player Darryl Strawberry, whose troubles with drug addiction have overshadowed the three World Series titles he won, typifies those that despise their lives. When Strawberry was with the Dodgers, he responded the most negative way possible after his reversal of fortune, which included the IRS investigating him for tax fraud, the court punishing him for beating his wife, and the Los Angeles baseball fans booing him for his poor performance on the field and his substance abuse off the field. He said to the press, "I thought, `What would it be like if I wasn’t around anymore?’ There wouldn’t be any problems if I wasn’t around. Then people wouldn’t have anything else to say." (Los Angeles Times 9/22/93)
The Centers for Disease Control reported that one in three adolescents said they’ve thought about suicide, and this figure is true for all income groups. Women attempted suicide three times more often than men do; however, men are more likely to commit suicide than women. Every year in the United States, more than 24,000 men succeed, compared to 6,000 women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (Los Angeles Times 3/30/93).
Despair for life begins with a dislike for who you are and what you have, then a distribution of blame and unhappiness to others, and finally, a delusion that death ends and solves all problems.
The Israelites identified the killer in Egypt as God and not Pharaoh (16:3), confused the quality of life in Egypt under the old Pharaohs with the new one, and bemoaned their death rather than considered their options when they ran into roadblocks.
People tend to pine for the past they never had, so much so that they never live in the present that they have. Nostalgia is an enemy of the present good. Already, they had forgotten the miracle at Marah (Ex 15:22-24), where God made the bitter waters of Marah drinkable. As long as they trust in God, they were not without hope or help. Their option was to relax and rejoice in the Lord. It was far better than resenting the Lord for where they were not, who they never were, and what they never had.