Think back to a time you found yourself in the presence of a grumbler, a complainer. Maybe it was a single individual or a group of people. Did you feel the tug to join in with your own complaints?
I have to feel sorry for Moses. Here was a man who was given a job from the Lord that he, frankly, did not want. You remember how the Lord called him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go. The people Moses led out of Egypt were a grumbling, complaining lot. In Numbers chapter 20, it appears that Moses was fed up with it. “The people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: ……… ‘Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?’” (verses 3-4)
Moses was, continually, the recipient of the peoples’ grumblings. On one occasion his response was, “Who am I that you grumble against me? Your grumblings aren’t against me, but against God.” (My paraphrase) Moses was simply doing what God told him to do and the people were not pleased with it.
In response to the grumblers in Numbers chapter 20, the Lord tells Moses to take his rod and his brother Aaron and speak to the rock and it would bring forth water for the people to drink. So, Moses and Aaron gathered the people together at the rock and Moses said, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” and then Moses struck the rock twice. The Lord was displeased with Moses because he did not believe the Lord or treat Him as holy before the people (verse 12).
Nothing in Moses’ words to the people or his actions pointed them to the Lord as the one who would provide the water they craved. What if he had responded like this, “Why are you grumbling at me? Who am I? Your grumblings aren’t against me, but against God. But that you may know that the Lord is your provider and that your grumblings have come up to His ears and that your sins are great in His eyes”…..and then Moses turns to the rock and says, “Bring forth water.”
But alas, Moses chose to respond with his own grumbling. As I pondered that, I wondered, “Do I do that?” In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, we’re told that the things we read about the Israelites in God’s Word were written down for our instruction (verse 6) and that we should not be complainers as they were (verse 10).
And now I return to the question I asked at the beginning, “Do I join in the grumblings of others or do I respond in a way that brings honor to the Lord and treats Him as His holiness deserves?” Many of us will have opportunities, maybe even today, to respond differently and point others to the Lord. Will you seize that opportunity? Will I?
Lord, help us to resist the temptation to join with the grumblers and, instead, point others to you. In Jesus name, Amen.