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August 18, 2017
Complaining In The Wilderness
Have you ever been in a season that you didn’t expect to be in so long? It felt like you were going around the same mountain over and over again. When we end up in a place that seems like it’s taking forever to get out of it can be easy to complain and question God.
I’ve been there and done that many times. In fact it wasn’t long ago a friend warned me about the effects of being a complainer. The truth is by complaining we make things more complicated. Some of the Israelite’s did just that when wandering the wilderness while trying to get to the land God promised them.
In Exodus 15 Moses was leading the Israel people away from the Red Sea into the dessert for three days, and then ended up at the oasis of Marah. The people complained against Moses about what they’d drink. It was there the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. After leaving Marah, they traveled onto the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs. They grumbled and complained so quickly, but God still helped. In Exodus 16 they started complaining again. They spoke of the food they ate in Egypt and now being hungry in the wilderness. The Lord told Moses he would be raining down food from heaven to test whether or not the people would follow him and also gave instructions along with it. Again God took care of them even after their complaining but also wanted to see if they’d obey his detailed instruction. Moses told each household to gather as much as it needs. Then he told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.” But some of them didn’t listen, by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was angry because of their disobedience. The complaining and disobedience didn’t stop there. In Exodus 17 the people continued arguing with Moses about thirsts. This is when The Lord told Moses to strike a rock, then water would come gushing out. He named the place Massah (meaning test) and Meribah (meaning arguing) because people of Israel tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?” Again the people expressed dissatisfaction instead of praying. Over and over again they refused to be patient and listen. Deuteronomy 1:34 speaks of Israel’s rebellion against the Lord in the wilderness. It says, “When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry. So he solemnly swore, not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he has followed the Lord completely. I will give him and his decedents some the very land he explored during his scouting mission.” During the forty years of wondering in the wilderness God was testing their character. In the 38th year all the men old enough to fight in battle had died in the wilderness, like God vowed would happen.
Israel didn’t have to spend forty years in the wilderness but people rejected his love and choose disobedience over and over again. The more you pray and obey along with trusting God instead of complaining the less complicated it will be. I’m believing for God’s promises. I no longer want to be like the Israelites who complained and never saw the promise land. I want to be careful with the words I speak. The tongue has the power of life and death. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining and arguing.”
The Lord spoke to Moses to pass on some words to the Israelites. Before Moses died he told the people of the laws, decrees and regulations. He spoke of the importance of the Ten Commandments. He also left the command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.” He then reminded them that after entered the promise land to not become proud and forget how the Lord had rescued them from Egypt. He tested them and kept them from danger. He did this so they could never say they achieved wealth by their own strength. He did it to humble them.
When you are no longer in the wilderness and enter your “promise land,” I believe it’s important to never forget where you once were. Remember that in this life you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because there is one who you can have peace with and has overcome the world. His name is Jesus.
Wherever you’re at in life ask God to create in you a pure heart. Stay humble, thankful, patient and trusting. When you are weak in these areas he is your strength.