Exodus 16:8 “And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.”
When I read the account of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, I marvel that they were so soon removed from believing and trusting that God would deliver them.
They witnessed each of the ten plagues upon the land and upon the people. They had a front row seat to all that God did to deliver them. They saw as well that they were immune to what was going on – they gave God the praise for His power, protection, and His provision.
After that night when the firstborn of every family was slain, they hasted into the desert to escape only to find that the Egyptian armies led by Pharaoh himself were on their heels.
Then, if witnessing the plagues were not enough, God divided the Red Sea to allow them to pass safely across. Turning back, they saw those men as the wheels to their chariots fell off and the waters closed in around them. Bodies of men and horses alike floated in the water; evidence of the mighty hand of God to deliver His people.
Not many days later, those same people who sang praises to God for all they had witnessed and been delivered from, began to take up criticism of the very man that led them through the toughest times they had ever faced. It was the beginning of a very vicious cycle for them.
Deliverance. Hardship. Complaining. Repentance. Repeat.
I must confess…
I have murmured. I have taken up opinion against God’s man and the way things have been run. I have spoken what I thought was constructive criticism only to find myself guilty of being a critic.
God puts His finger on the problem:
“…your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.”
“But…” and any words spoken after that is an attempt to justify our criticism.
Moses was just a man. But he was God’s man. Later, in the Book of Numbers, we find a whole group of critics rising up and accusing Moses. Korah and his band of followers and their families soon found how God felt about their criticism.
Now Korah had been chosen to serve in a limited and specific capacity. But the position and the power that came with it corrupted his heart against the God-given authority He had placed in his life.
God made a full demonstration of who and what He approved.
Numbers 16:28-33 “And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”
God did not take too kindly those that rose in rebellion to the authority He had placed in their life.
I, too, fear what God might do to me should I be like Korah… and it all started with someone sharing what they thought about how things should be run.
Talk radio, social media, and even blogs have given the free opportunity for any and all to express what they think seemingly without consequence. It has opened a Pandora’s box of problems for the church in general and for us in particular.
Some might say; “What I see is wrong – how do I express that?” Direct and private confrontation with the one with which you have an issue. If that doesn’t solve it, then, take two or three witnesses and confront them again. If that doesn’t work, then, you must bring it before the church. Biblically (and very generically) this what is known as church discipline.
The prequalifying factors at which many fail is this:
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
First, before entering into any procedural activities, one must be spiritual; devoid of any and all bias, opinion, preference or prejudice. Thoroughly and prayerfully taking small, deliberate steps guided by the Holy Spirit.
Second, the whole goal of entering into this type of activity is restoration – not vengeance, or even justice – restoration.
When I have found myself murmuring about something or someone, I begin to realize I haven’t even taken this to the Lord, let alone thought things through to allow for any benefit of the doubt on my part or presentation of facts on theirs.
Our enemy, Satan, is a divider and a destroyer. If I find myself taking part in any such activities that divide or will come to destruction, I must look inward first to make sure my motives are pure and God-led.
Moses was the perfect example of what to do when accused.
Numbers 16:4-5 “And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.”
David openly disobeyed and openly sinned before the people – yet they still followed. Was it that they approved of his behavior? Or was it that they knew his humanity and even trusted and followed for whom he represented?
Many a man of God has fallen because of his wrong choices. Many have disqualified themselves from their present position because of their sin. But if God were through with them, He would have taken them home. They remain; because through restoration, they can still serve – maybe not as a pastor, but, somewhere; somehow. And it is the church’s responsibility to help facilitate that.
May I end with this… What may be said here is not a study on church discipline, nor is it meant to put pastors and those in authority on a pedestal. I simply mean to call into question our thoughts, our words, and our actions when taking up such things as would be labeled ‘murmuring’; ‘complaining’; or just plain speaking your mind.
We are to have the mind of Christ and having His mind means that the words that follow would be Christ-honoring as well.