Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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After all that God had done to provide for every need of the Israelites, they engage in the truly terrible act of complaining. We know that the behavior of some on the outskirts of the camp is particularly bad because the LORD had to step in and destroy those who complained the worst.


This does not mean that God being overly sensitive.  We might have been more indulgent with the complainers but God knew the hearts of the people and we are not more righteous than God.  You see, the people not only complained about their current circumstances, but they wanted to go back to Egypt. They valued onions, garlic, and the fish they had in Egypt more than God’s marvelous acts of salvation.  We wouldn’t value our personal preferences more than our salvation would we?  Unfortunately we sometimes do.


In reality God tolerates an awful lot of complaining. In Numbers 11 Moses himself bitterly complains, and then doubts the power of God to provide meat to satisfy the craving of such a large number of people.  But Moses’ behavior is “normal.”  Humans run into frustrating situations all the time. God listened and then decides to step in, solve Moses’ problems, and give the people what they want.  But what the people wanted had some bad consequences.


The contrast between the two sorts of complaints—the one by Moses and the one by the people—should give us comfort. Sometimes faithful servants of God just can’t take it anymore, and they’re right. God doesn’t respond with “Be a man!”  He removes their burdens.  For this we should be grateful.


Mark Sheffield

Southern Adventist University