I’ve heard that it is words of complaints that people utter most frequently throughout their lives. However, there is nothing to grumble about as long as we believe that God is with us and loves us. This time, let’s find out God’s will for us, seeing what the fate of grumblers in the Bible was.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Th 5:16-18
We are all well aware of the above passage; it is a very precious teaching of God. We must do the will of God in order to enter the eternal kingdom of heaven.
Unless we are joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, complaints form in our hearts. It catches on faster than joy and thanks, leading many people to destruction.
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did . . . And do not grumble, as some of them did―and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.1 Co 10:1-11
The Israelites were delivered out of Egypt by God’s mighty power displayed through the Passover, but most of them did not reach their destination, Canaan; about six hundred thousand men were all destroyed in the desert. God let this thing happen as a warning for us living at a time when the end is about to come; and He said, “Do not grumble, as some of them did.”
What happened to the Israelites in the desert was an example and shadow of what would occur to us in the desert of our faith journey. Seeing what happened to them, let us not grumble as they did, but give thanks and glory to God with joy in all circumstances.
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians . . .”Ex 15:22-26
The Israelites began to grumble shortly after they passed through the Red Sea and entered the desert. They grumbled against Moses when they could not drink water because it was bitter. Ultimately their grumbling was against God who had brought them out of Egypt through Moses. God separated those with patience from those grumbling; and then He told Moses the way to make the water sweet.
If God had made the water sweet before they drank, none of them would have grumbled. Tracing the history of the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the desert, we can see that God placed them in unfavorable circumstances first and left them to their grumbling; and when their grumbling reached the peak, He heard their complaints. Whenever the Israelites were under unfavorable conditions, they poured out complaints.
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. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 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.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”Ex 16:1-4
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down . . . The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost―also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” . . .Nu 11:1-7
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.Nu 21:4-6
The records of the Bible mentioned above show us that the Israelites constantly grumbled against God during their desert life. Though they witnessed God’s mighty power when they came out of Egypt, they began to grumble just after they entered the desert; they grumbled for water first; after a month they grumbled for bread; and when God gave them manna, they grumbled for meat. They continually grumbled over small inconveniences.
The people grew impatient on the way, and they grumbled again, saying, “There is no bread! And we detest this miserable food!” Then God sent venomous snakes among them, and many were bitten and died. That was how God punished the grumbling people.
God always separates those who are thankful from those are not—those who consider God’s will and endure with a grateful heart from those who keep grumbling. God places us in various situations; sometimes He brings us into trials and hardships. This is how He separates those who are grateful from grumblers.
Through the desert life of the Israelites, we see God separating Himself from them. How dreadful! What if we forget God’s word―“Do not grumble”―and keep on grumbling? We will drop out of the line after all.
Think of the twelve spies. They explored the land of Canaan, and most of them spread a bad report about the land and made all the people grumble. As a result, none of the Israelite men twenty years old or more entered Canaan except Joshua and Caleb who did not grumble but always gave thanks (Nu 13:1-14:38).
If the Israelites had followed God wholeheartedly, they would have endured patiently rather than grumbled. Though they were in uncomfortable circumstances, if they had understood God’s will, they would have found there certain causes to thank God.
However, they were impatient; they were hasty in their judgment and words. Their grumbles spread to many people; as a result, about six hundred thousand men were overthrown in the desert.
Do you think that God just recklessly brought His people into the desert without bread or water? Their grumbling showed that they did not have a strong faith in God. If they had firmly believed that God was working with them, they would not have grumbled for bread or water.
Sometimes we, too, are placed in such unfavorable situations. God wants us not to grumble under any circumstances.
When there was no bread or water, one would grumble over it and another beside him would make an agreeable response; and their grumbling would spread to more and more people. Would they have complained if God had richly provided them with all they needed at the beginning?
Sometimes God placed His people under difficult circumstances to find out whether or not they would follow His teaching―“Do not grumble.” When they did not obey God, He made them wander longer in the desert. However, when they obeyed Him, He did not make them go through the same thing. In this way, God trained His people to be strong in faith.
Those who are grateful have an upright faith in God, so they can give thanks in all circumstances. What about grumblers? The fact that they grumble and complain, not being thankful or joyful, is proof that they have run out of the spiritual oil of faith. As for those who grumble, their hearts are filled with complaints rather than thanksgiving; ultimately they come to deny God.
These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.Jude 1:16
One of the characteristic of those who grumble is that they try to find fault with others, boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. Let’s see what kind of people those grumblers are.
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals―these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.Jude 1:10-11
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.Jude 1:4
Those who take the way of Cain, those who follow the rebellion of Korah and rush for profit into Balaam’s error, are all grumblers and faultfinders. They do not have a sure faith in God and deny Him after all; they always grumble and blame others; they follow their own evil desires; they speak arrogantly; they despise God’s authority and slander the glorious beings, like unreasoning animals.
Grumblers deny Jesus Christ. What a terrifying thing it is to grumble! If we have any complaint now, we will regret it soon―‘Why did I grumble over such a small thing?’ Following God’s will, let us be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.
When we continue to grumble, we become weak in faith. When our faith weakens, we come to forsake God; and when we forsake God, we will lose the kingdom of heaven. These unfortunate things will happen in succession. No matter what kinds of difficulties we may face, let us always have a thankful and joyful heart in our life of faith. If our hearts are only filled with joy and gratitude, there will be no quarreling among us; we will bring joy and happiness to each other rather than hurt each other’s feelings.
Sometimes, we feel angry or resentful even at our brother’s kind advice. Whenever this happens, we need to be patient instead of being displeased or discontented with it; we will soon realize that such advice is helpful for our faith.
Let us suppose that someone causes us offense or pain. There is no reason to complain about it at all; for we are now experiencing just one kind of the things that the Israelites went through in the desert. All things were created by God’s will. God wants us, His children, to learn thanksgiving and satisfaction and feel joy in everything we experience. If this is God’s will, shouldn’t we follow it?
Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations in order to know what is in our hearts; He wants us to be thankful in those situations, following the right path as believers. God wants all the 144,000 children to have a heart of thanksgiving rather than a grumbling heart.
The grumbling Israelites were all destroyed in the desert. Through such a historical event, God tells us to get rid of all complaints we have in this desert life of faith. At that time, only those who did not grumble but gave thanks to God were able to enter Canaan. In this age, too, only those who always give thanks will enter the eternal kingdom of heaven.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.Eph 4:22-24
Let us take off the old self and put on the new self. Whatever our circumstances, let us always be content in any situation, joyful always and thankful in everything, without any complaints, just as the Spirit and the Bride want us to be. I hope all my brothers and sisters in Zion will enter the eternal heavenly Canaan, after safely going through this spiritual desert.