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Grumbling at God

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2022 12:00 am

Grumbling at God

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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July 15, 2022 12:00 am

Moses is stuck in the wildnerness with thousands of grumbling people. Every time things go wrong he hears something like, "Hey Moses... you should have left us in Egypt! Thanks for nothing!" The Israelites were incredibly ungrateful people, but in this message Stephen shows us why we are just like them.

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R.C. Sproul
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Greg Laurie
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Pastor Andy George
Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church

There is a word that occurs more often to the Israelite than just about anybody else. It is the little word remember.

I pulled out the concordance and I just started counting until I gave up. There are probably over 300 times it occurs in the scriptures. Remember, remember, remember. God would tell the Israelite when they were down and adopts, remember the covenants, remember the promises. The grumbler has forgotten that God is involved. One of the best solutions is to simply sit down and remember what God has done. We're going to examine the topic of grumbling. When we grumble and complain, it gives evidence that at least at that moment, we don't think God is doing what's best for us. We're being short changed and God should be treating us differently. On the other hand, when we live with the mindset that God is among us, it's very difficult to have a grumbling spirit.

This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen Davey has a message for you today called grumbling at God. We'll read from 1 Corinthians chapter 10. It's an interesting passage of scripture that is, in a sense, a commentary on what occurred in Exodus chapter 15, in fact, throughout the history of the Israelite nation.

1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 1 says, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, for I do not want you to be unaware or ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. They were all 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 were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them, God was not well pleased, for they were laid low in the wilderness.

Note this. Now these things happened as examples for us, that is the New Testament Christian. They happened as examples for us that we should not crave evil things as they also craved. And do not be idolaters as some of them were, as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play, nor let us act immorally as some of them did, and 23,000 fell in one day.

That was an act of God's judgment. Nor let us try the Lord as some of them did and were destroyed by the serpents, nor, verse 10, nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction upon whom the end of the ages have come.

Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. It's interesting that what happened to the Israelites and the record of their failure was given so that you and I might learn by observing their failure how to succeed. We learn from the kind of lifestyle that they lived where they did not please God, how we then in turn might by learning from history learn how to please God. And that's why we've been given the record. Now back in Exodus chapter 15, the story unfolds and we're going to take three stops.

Those notes may help you that you have been given. The first begins in verse 22 of chapter 15. And what we want to do briefly is go through the text of scripture and discover what happened to the Israelite and then major on what that means to you and to me by way of application. Verse 22, then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, that is that spiritual victory, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. It's interesting that they've just come across that or through the Red Sea.

They've sung that song of great praise to God. And now Moses leads them into the wilderness of Shur, which is probably the eastern border of Egypt, stretching up to the southern portion of Palestine. And today, if you were to go there, what I have seen and by way of pictures and read, it is still a very barren region with very little vegetation.

And that's exactly where God will take the Israelites for this first stopping place, the wilderness of Shur. And it's interesting, the text says they found no water. They went three days without water.

Now I want you to imagine yourself part of that 2.5, perhaps even 3 million company of people that is trekking through the wilderness of Shur. The first day, you feel the heat of the sun and the sand and wind whips at your body and you probably feel your wine skin getting rather muggy and warm. The water doesn't taste too well. The second day into that trip, you are beginning to feel a little anxious for that fresh store of water and there's still none. The third day, they begin to rejoice as you would with them because they've cited water. There's water at Merah. There's water ahead.

So they think God has finally provided. Note verse 23. When they came to Merah, they could not drink the waters of Merah for they were bitter.

That's what Merah means or bitterness. So they come up to that pool of water, perhaps that small lake, and they plunge into the water and it isn't long before you hear the cries, don't drink this. It's bitter water.

You'll get sick. And there they thought the end of their tired journey would occur where they could drink water and refresh themselves. And they look at all of that water and they've got to stand back.

They can't drink any of it. And so what happens? Verse 24, the people grumbled at Moses. You'll find this phrase five times in the passage we'll study. Grumbling is a characteristic of the Israelite. In fact, in First Corinthians chapter 10, it says that one of their failures, one of their great weaknesses was that they grumbled at God and at Moses. It says they grumbled at Moses saying, what shall we drink? So Moses of course goes to God. He cried out to the Lord. And note this, the Lord showed him a tree and he threw it into the water.

I can just imagine myself being there. We're grumbling at Moses. Moses, you've led us to a place where now we can't drink water.

Go to God and find out what's happening. He goes to God. He comes back and they say, well, did God tell you?

What are we going to do? And Moses says, well, you see the tree over there by the water? Somebody cut it down.

Okay. Somebody goes over there and chops that tree down and Moses says, now throw it in the water. So they throw the tree in the water and Moses says, you can drink it now. And 2 million people scratch their heads and say, Moses, you take the first drink. And I imagine that everybody watched Moses dip down there with his hand and pull up some water and drink it.

And they watched his face. How does he respond? This is the most ridiculous solution in the world. The water is bitter. You can't drink it. What does God say?

Take a tree and throw it into the water. What is God teaching them? He is teaching them that the human solutions that they would expect are not going to be used by God.

These are divine solutions. This is the divine way that will teach them ultimately dependence upon his way. In fact, you'll find in that the only solution to our own grumbling, that God is ultimately in control.

Verse 27, let's hurry on. Then they came to a lean where there were 12 springs of water and 70 date palms and they came there beside the water and oh, God is so gracious. Takes them to the bitter water where they have their faith tested and they grumble. And then what does God do? Go spend, you know, a month out there without any water. No, he leads them to an oasis and he allows them to refresh themselves and to rest and they do so for a period of time.

And here comes the second stopover. Look at chapter 16. Then they set out from a lean and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Zen or sin, which is between a lean and Sinai on the 15th day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt and the whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

Why was that? Because basically they were running out of food. They had lost that provision that they had perhaps kept as they left Egypt and now it had run out and they were wondering what in the world they were going to do. And let me at least give you a few facts so you can understand the enormity of what God is about to do.

I read one expositor who was a mathematician who's been very helpful to me and he says that if you figure out that there were 2.5, perhaps even 3 million Israelites, it would take to feed that amount of people 4,000 tons of food every day. Where are we going to get food? We're out in the wilderness, no vegetation.

We've run out. Now, Moses, what will God do now? And God will in effect come back and give them a very interesting solution. Look at verse 11, the Lord spoke to Moses saying, I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel. Speak to them saying, at twilight you shall eat meat and in the morning you shall be filled with bread and you shall know that I am Yahweh, your God.

Right. Verse 13, so it came about at evening, note this, that the quails came up and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. He rains down, as it were, manna that surfaces once the dew has evaporated. But before he does that, he says, it has been a while since you've had meat. And so he brings in quail. Now, I love the scoffers of scripture and those that would try to come up with a natural explanation of what happened.

And before we go any further, I want to give you what they've come up with. They believe that the manna, this white substance, was the excretion of small desert insects. There's no way Moses is going to talk two and a half million people into eating if that's manna. But that's their solution. There's got to be a way around the fact that God just sends stuff out of heaven and the quail.

They said that these were birds migrating from Africa who were exhausted and weren't able to fly more than three feet above the ground. That's great. I don't know if you hunt, but that'd be the ultimate hunting experience.

No gun, just get a broom and go hit them out of the air. Hey man, look at this pile. That's a miracle. It's more of a miracle than to just assume that God said that he would take care of the people and he is sending quail in and all they have to do is collect it.

And every morning, and by the way, every morning for 40 years, this occurs for the entire 40 year wandering. Verse 35, and the sons of Israel ate the manna 40 years until they came to the inhabited land. They ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. In other words, God's going to provide tons of bread every morning. We'll look at some of the details later, but that was his provision. Again, showing them that he is a powerful God who does not need human solutions to provide for his people.

And I hope you're noting that as we go along. Now let's go to chapter 17. This is the third grumbling spot. The people are without water this time. Their wine skins are empty. Verse two. Therefore, the people quarreled, could be translated grumbled or complained with Moses and said, give us water that we may drink.

What an ungrateful lot. And Moses said to them, why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord? Verse five. Then the Lord said to Moses, pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb and you shall strike the rock and water will come out of it that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

And I love this solution better than any of the others. Moses, we are thirsty. What will you do? Moses says, well, this time just follow me. And Moses takes his staff and he says, you see that rock over there? And the people say, yeah, it looks a lot like all the other rocks around here. And he says, well, water will come out of the rock.

How is that? Well, stand back and let me get a good swing in. And he strikes the rock. And God provides for his people. You see, ladies and gentlemen, God is bringing these people down to one basic question. It's the same question that you and I have to ask whenever we're at those stopping places where life like this water is bitter, where we seem without provision, where it seems that God is not providing for us. The question is found in verse seven of chapter 17.

Moses comes to the people and he tells them, well, they see or observe this verse seven that he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel. And because they tested the Lord saying, and here it is, is the Lord among us or not? That's the bottom line in life. Is God among us? Is God involved in my life? Is he involved in your life? That's the fundamental question that will either make you a grumbler throughout life or a person who trusts in the sovereign power of God. Whatever it is that you're struggling with, ask the question, is God among us? Is he in my home?

Is he in my life? Therein lies the solution. And I would say that the first characteristic of a grumbler is one who observes God's provision without appreciation, without appreciation or without learning. There in verse 25, God shows him a tree.

They throw it into the waters and the waters become sweet and there is no response. There was the response of praise before but in these next stopping grounds, it's as if they are expecting and they constantly expect and God continually provides and there's no sign of appreciation. Nor is there a sign that they are learning that God is involved. A grumbler is a very stubborn person. And when you and I grumble, we in effect blind our eyes to the fact that God is providing what he has provided and we have little appreciation. The second is found in chapter 16 verse 3 and that is a grumbler exaggerates personal conditions and then he complains.

Would you note verse 3 with me? And the sons of Israel said to them, what that we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt? Oh, I just wish I had died in Egypt before coming out here. Now know what they say by exaggeration. When we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full or literally we ate bread till we were stuffed, for you've brought us into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger, they have forgotten all. If we could only go back to the good old days in Egypt when we sit by the meat pots, we'd eat till we were stuffed. Why how they have forgotten what it was like in Egypt working from dawn till dusk under heavy taskmasters who constantly beat them.

But do you know something? Just as with them it is true with me, whenever I am grumbling or complaining, I tend to exaggerate all that's bad. And usually after that I look around for somebody to blame.

Let's see, who can take the hit? And they found Moses and they complained to him. Another thing that they do in that verse is they compare the present to the past. And I would add to an always favorable past. Do you know a chronic complainer is constantly looking back and everything in the background, everything in history is more favorable than the present. It was always better back then.

I don't like to talk to people who talk about the good old days. But you get around people, you could be 20 years old, you could be 15 and remember, oh, what it was like back then. And one of the fascinating things about children as you observe them, what are they living for? Tomorrow, tomorrow I can't wait till I get old enough to do that. I can't wait till I grow up and do this. Oh, if I were only 16 and I could drive, I can't wait to go to college and they live in the future tense.

And somewhere along, there's a wall that's built and we run into it from there on out. It's, oh, if we could only go back, if we could only return. When I was seven, it was simple. Before I drove, it was much easier. A chronic complainer or grumbler is always comparing the present to a favorable past.

Oh, we sat by the pots of meat. I want to say, wake up. But they are chronic grumblers.

The fourth would be this, refusing to totally surrender to the authority of God. And this is why they never appreciate it because their eyes are in a sense closed to what his hand is doing. They're always thinking about the past. They're always exaggerating the present. And so they don't really benefit from what God does.

And let me show you where this occurs. Look at verse 20 of chapter 16. Well, let's back up to verse 18.

Ah, 16 here. This is what the Lord has commanded. Gather of it every man as much as he should eat. You shall take an omer apiece.

That's six pints. According to the number of persons, each of you has in his tent. And the sons of Israel did so. Some gathered much and some little. And when they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess and he who had gathered little had no lack.

This is a supernatural miracle in itself that the manna expands to meet the need of the family or diminishes so that they don't have any leftover. And Moses said to them, verse 19, Let no man leave any of it until morning. Verse 20. But they did not listen to Moses. And some left part of it until morning. And it bred worms and became foul.

And Moses was angry with them. In other words, Okay, Lord, you're going to provide manna. But since I'm really not under your authority, I'm really not able to appreciate what you're doing for me. Therefore, I'm not really going to listen to the whole council, the whole command. You say don't don't leave any over.

Big deal. I'm going to set a little aside. And of course, God makes sure that it spoils. Verse 26. Six days you shall gather it. But on the seventh day, the Sabbath literally translated the rest day.

There will be none. Don't collect it on the Sabbath. Verse 27.

It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather. But they found that they resemble me because God says, Don't do something. I'm going to take care of you.

And what do I do? Okay, the seventh day, I'll go ahead and get a portion. Don't leave any over until morning. I'm gonna I don't know if God can really provide.

And so I'll just make sure I've got some saved up. This is too convicting. Let's go to the next.

The fifth. They distort reality. And they falsely accuse for three of Chapter 17. But the people thirsted there for water, and they grumbled against Moses and said, Why now have you brought us up from Egypt to kill us and our Children and our livestock with thirst? Now that's intelligent. Two and a half million people have reached the conclusion that Moses led them out of Egypt to make sure they died of thirst.

That makes a lot of sense because Moses didn't have any water himself. If they didn't, what are they doing? They are distorting reality, and that goes right along with those who are chronic grumblers. We lose the mooring of reality. We're so convinced that God may be against us that all of this is bad, that all of yesterday was better. We make foolish decisions. We distort the reality of what is actually happening. Let me stop and let's sidle up to Moses for a second.

Let's pretend we're him. How would you and I respond against such false accusations? What if you were leading the people of Israel and they came to you with this conclusion? Well, although this is very dramatic, we have all experienced accusations, some true, some false. Do we mirror the character of Moses, who repeatedly does the same thing when he's falsely accused? And what does he do? He goes to God. You never see in this text of Scripture, Moses saying, bring you out to kill you.

Let me give you five reasons why that's not true. He never does. He just goes to God.

Let's tie up the question. How do we overcome what we could consider the disease of grumbling that comes in slowly and then masters us? First of all, by developing a constant dependence on the living Lord. Turn to the Gospel of John.

You've got to see this for yourself. John, Chapter six. We talk about types in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the anti type that is Jesus Christ. And that Old Testament passage we've looked at has a sermon in itself about how Jesus Christ is the anti type of that which was given in the Old Testament. He fulfills the picture of what happened in the past.

You'll note this one very clearly. John, Chapter six, verse thirty two. Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is my father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world. Verse thirty five. Jesus said, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger. And he who believes in me shall never thirst.

Verse forty eight. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread. I am the bread which comes down out of heaven so that no one may eat of it and die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. Jesus Christ said that which happened to Israel there in the wilderness where God provided, in fact, 40 years and giving bread, they still had to die. But I am the bread of life. And if you come to depend on me, you will never die. But see, that isn't just it. That's redemption. But there is a constant dependence throughout our wilderness journey before we reach the land of promise where we will overcome the grumbler spirit by depending on the word, the living bread that is available.

It is new each morning. What a tremendous picture that Jesus Christ gives not only of himself, but of the word, developing a constant dependence on the Lord. The second is this cultivating a thankful attitude, cultivating a thankful attitude.

And I want to give you two ways that that can that can happen. Obviously, there are many more. The first and this is all related to Israel. There is a word that occurs more often to the Israelite than than just about anybody else.

It is the little word. Remember, I pulled out the concordance and I just started counting until I gave up. There are probably over 300 times that occurs in the scriptures. Remember, remember, remember, God would tell the Israelite when they were down and adopts, remember the covenants, remember the promises. The grumbler has forgotten that God is involved. One of the best solutions is to simply sit down and remember what God has done. Grumblers have very short memories.

I think we need to develop better memories. The second is to practice. A thankful attitude takes practice. Turn over to Colossians three.

I'm going to read this particular text out of Williams translation because he literalizes the tense of the verb. Chapter three of Colossians and look at verse 15. He says, Let the peace that Christ can give keep on acting as an umpire in your hearts. For you were called to this state as members of one body and practice being thankful.

That's interesting. Practice being thankful. You don't practice thankfulness on the edge of the Red Sea. You don't practice being thankful at the oasis of the lean. That doesn't take practice. It takes practice when you're in the wilderness, in the desert, when you're thirsty and things are going wrong.

That's when you practice. And so he said, I want you to practice thankfulness. That is when the situations arise where you want to do anything but be thankful there in you develop the discipline of a thankful spirit. Chapter one, verse 11 of that same book, he says, I want you to lead lives worthy of the Lord to his full satisfaction by bearing fruit in every good enterprise and by a steady growth in a fuller knowledge of God. Then you will be perfectly empowered by his glorious might for every sort of joyous endurance that's dealing with circumstances and forbearance that's dealing with people. And you will always be thanking the father who has qualified you to share the lot of his people in the realm of life.

What do I have to be thankful for today? The foundation, the beginning, the starting point is that we, by the redemption of Jesus Christ, can say, I am thankful that he has qualified me by his son to be part of the family of God. I start there.

Practice that. When the lights are turned off, begin there that I am part of God's family by Jesus Christ. And because of that, I can begin to practice thankfulness, knowing, believing that Jesus Christ is among my life.

This is Wisdom for the Heart. This series through Exodus comes from our vintage Wisdom archives. Stephen first preached this message back in 1989. Stephen is also the president of Shepherd's Theological Seminary. Shepherd's Seminary is training and equipping pastors and anyone who wants to further their knowledge of God's word. In fact, if you'd like to take a course or two, you can do that right where you are because most of the classes are offered with an online option. If you go to our website, and scroll to the bottom of that page, there's a link to Shepherd's Seminary. Join us again next time as we bring you more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-24 10:39:01 / 2023-03-24 10:49:40 / 11

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