Some more thoughts on complaining from Numbers 21:4,5 – 4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”
Complaining is not trusting – it is not trusting God, it is not trusting the leader; it is simply and plainly not trusting. When you complain – you are saying to everyone that you are complaining to that you do not trust God or the leader or whoever in the circumstance you are in. That is what the children of Israel are doing here – they are telling God and Moses they do not trust them!
So when you add up a long trip and rough trip and people who are not eating what they want and people who are impatient, well you get the sin that is seen in verse 5, and what exactly is the sin that is seen in verse 5?
There are four different sins that I see here:
Murmuring – or to use the modern day word – they were complaining – They were expressing their discontent with God and Moses. They were complaining about God and how and where he is leading them and about Moses and how he is leading them. Things are not the way that they think they should be so they complain and whine because if God would just do things their way…
Secondly is Unbelief – Imagine the protection that had through all they have been through and now they speaking of dying in the wilderness. God has provided and protected them and they still do not believe God for what he says he will do. This is the sin of the older generation that kept them from the Promised Land and the younger generation has learned from the older and now they are doing it too! Unbelief is not trusting and it is their lack of trust of God and Moses that is being voiced in their complaints.
Thirdly is Ungratefulness – These people whom God has made special provisions for are acting like it is not nearly enough for them at all. Nothing is good enough for them because it is not exactly like what they want. They are finding nothing to be thankful for. Complaining shows a lack of gratitude, so when you complain you are telling others you are not grateful for what God has provided.
Lastly they are voicing Contempt of a Divine Blessing – They were complaining about the Manna that God had graciously provided to keep them alive. You know what Manna means…. What is it …. They named the provision from God what is it. When they say, we loathe this miserable food; they are talking about the manna, their mainstay in the wilderness. If we judged what manna was like by their comments, we would not be too excited about eating either, but the Psalmist calls it "bread of angels" – Psalm 78:24-25 And He rained down manna upon them to eat, And gave them food from heaven. Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance. They didn’t go hungry, they had an abundance of Manna or bread of angels but the problem was not good enough for them – they thought they deserved a whole lot better. Complaining shows contempt for God and others as seen right here.
In a sense if you put the four sins together – the complaining, unbelief, ungratefulness, and the contempt and you will get the sin of rebellion. Let us stop here a minute and think about this; you have a group of people who are murmuring against God, not believing God, ungrateful for what God has provided, and who are speaking contempt for how God has provided. We think how terrible this is but the reality is that this sounds like us at times.
We go through our everyday lives and problems and we allow ourselves to get bogged down by them. The circumstances of life get us down and we become impatient and/or discouraged. This then leads us to begin to complain about God, or his servants, or his provisions. We then begin to think that God is going to just let us die in the wilderness of our life. We end up forgetting all that God has brought us through. We have no gratitude for any of the blessings of our lives, as a matter of fact we do not think that we have any blessings from God in our lives – everything is bad. Then we begin to complain about the ways and the work of God all the time to anyone and everyone. What has happened is that we have gotten caught in the trap of STINKIN THINKIN. We look at what the circumstances of life are like around us rather than fix our eyes on the Lord. That is what has happened to the children of Israel – their eyes are on everything but God. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are to fix our eyes on Christ – the author and finisher of our faith. Where are your eyes today? Are they on everything else but Christ or are they on Christ? Where your eyes are, it makes all the difference in if you are complaining or not complaining.
What do you think – is complaining partly not trusting? Any thought on the four sins? What are your thoughts on all this?