Throughout history, there has often been a struggle between those who murmur and complain with those who seek to quell such grumblings. In Exodus, we see how Moses was left to deal with a Jewish people who, despite recent deliverance from bondage, were left dissatisfied with their present situation and murmured against their leadership and against God. In this series of blogs, we’ll delve into what Christ would have us do to expose our shortcomings, which lead to murmuring and analyze what can be done as leaders to rectify this problem using the Spirit of God. First, let us look at the situation in which Moses found himself and how we can follow God’s plan to gain victory over this common problem.
Our lives are filled with expectations. These range from basic necessities like food and water, to family stability, social continuity, and personal contentment. As we observe a classic case study of deliverance, we see similarities between current conservative Christian murmuring and that of the Old Testament Jews. An early scriptural instance of murmuring involved the Jews’ discontentment in the wilderness, under the leadership of Moses. In Exodus, we see a people miraculously freed from slavery and bondage, murmuring, “…for ye have brought us forth into the wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” They had pervasive discontentment toward Moses and ultimately God. In Numbers, God spoke, “How long shall I bear witness with this evil congregation that murmur against me? Your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness; and all… died by the plague of the Lord.” We often ignore the repercussions. We grumble about a situation, attach it to a face or person, and then to God. Even as God freed and fed the Jews, they were still dissatisfied. Look around, times have changed little. Even today, we see a situation, attach blame, and dishonor God.
We all remember, in Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye’s verbal asides to God. Even as we grumble about a situation or person, like the Jews against Moses, the real addressee is clearly the Lord. Tevye, at least, truthfully addressed God. Our grumblings are contagious and we must deal with them properly and biblically.
To do this, the Lord enlightens those who seek Him. Moses was used by God to lead those who were seemingly unleadable. This now becomes a case study on leadership. Even as we murmur, we still must be led by those who are under the influence of God. The Jews had selective memories, which is often the situation in which we find ourselves. Even when delivered and removed from the bondage and beatings of the Egyptians, the Israelites still murmured. How soon we forget! The Israelites’ attitude about the situation in which they found themselves, became illogical. They said to Moses, “You brought us here to kill the whole assembly.” Moses was forced to deal with this ridiculous viewpoint. Similar to Moses, we are called by God to lead those who complain. As we do so, we must avoid the anger felt towards them in the midst of, or prior to the ensuing debate.
An attempt to destroy the complainer or defend yourself against murmuring is evidence of spiritual immaturity and inferior leadership. A tell tale sign that we lack confidence, is when we attempt to argue and destroy those who complain. God has a plan for all, the leader as well as those who murmur. Therefore we all need, as the Jews did, a positive consultation from God. He uses leaders like Moses and even us who trust God, to avoid using anger to quell a murmuring situation. Christ is the solution to the problem as well as the comfort to those engulfed in it.
In short, as we encounter murmuring, either as participants or leaders, God’s intent for us is to have faith that we may avoid it, or lead us out from under its influence. In the next few weeks, we will cover several more “shalts” and “shalt nots” in leading those who tend to complain.