In reading through Exodus lately, I find myself struck by something in the sixteenth chapter. After yet another bit of complaining from Israel, in what is a feature of Israel’s relationship with God and His appointed leaders, Moses and Aaron, as they’re in the interim between Egypt and the Promised Land, we encounter the following in the text:
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”
And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.– Exodus 16:9-10 (ESV)
Imagine the pit which would form in your stomach, even if you had not been part of the latest whine tasting party. At the approach of the Almighty, a sense of dread might fill you.
At root, you would have to admit. The complaints had been a kind of accusation against God. His goodness, fairness, justice, and faithfulness had been questioned. Perhaps He had been good to y’all in delivering the numerous descendants of Israel from over four centuries of hard bondage in a foreign land. But circumstances had changed. Perhaps, as your fellows reasoned, He had changed also.
So your nation had reasoned among themselves in a most unreasonable fashion. Such was the character of the grumbling. And such was the known quantity to be found in myths and stories about the gods of other nations. Maybe Yahweh God was like those gods after all.
The truth of Yahweh’s character, meanwhile, had not changed. He had been constant throughout. What had oscillated was the appreciation of His character. Dependent on whether bellies were full, and no danger was present, the quality of the theology waxed and waned.
You might even say that we would be glad to be such a people on the one hand, who had seen the deliverance of the Lord repeatedly, as He performed mighty deeds again and again, by His own mighty right hand. On the other hand, if we had been among that people, at that moment, when Moses said that thing to Aaron, and then the glory of Yahweh appeared in a cloud, we likely would have wanted to be anywhere else, besides proximal to our cantankerous fellows, even if we had not spoken aloud along with them in questioning this God’s goodness.
To have manna every day, just enough to eat so everyone was full, plus quail thereafter when the gripe was that there was no meat; and to see the patience of God tested repeatedly, like when food was kept for tomorrow anyway, despite clear instructions to not do that thing, and to see it spoil and stink; and to pair the seeing, hearing, and smelling of such things in juxtaposition with a call to come near to God, because He had heard the grumbling – that would have been sobering to say the least.
So also in our day, we hear about people complaining. Fossil fuels aren’t good enough to use for generating electricity, for instance. Next thing you know, someone suggests offshore wind farms. But then there’s a protest about whales washing up on the shore, allegedly because the turbines sing a siren song to the cetaceans. So maybe we should ban those as well.
Or maybe the novel idea of nuclear power plants is put forward. But we don’t want that either. Remember Chernobyl? We’ll just forgo electricity. Only then, still, the masses will complain that their lights went out. Oh, the horror when they weren’t able to go online to gripe about everything on the internet.
But think also of public health officials, who required shutdowns in recent years, and silenced all their critics, no matter what credentials and qualifications the seconds who came to examine them held. All the while, they told everyone to follow the science. But when the science turned out to not support their measures, they claimed the folks who did their research were conspiracy theorists, or seditious, for wondering about every other ailment which might be caused by requiring everyone to isolate from friends and family indefinitely, postponing every measure which is conducive to wellbeing holistically.
The simple fact is that people want what they want, and they also don’t even know what they want, all at the same time, particularly when what they really want is to be God, or at least play Him on TV for a little while. You’re not supposed to admit that last bit out loud, yet it is the root.
Every sin is really discontentedness in disguise, most especially with the God who made us. That is to say, every wicked and evil thought, feeling, scheme, word, and deed, is, when you get to its core, a kind of accusation against the goodness of our Maker.
He’s holding out on us. We know better what is fair than He does. Particularly where timing and scope is concerned, we could do better. Or so our foolish hearts insist.
You might liken it to a man who found treasure in his own field and sold the field, only to complain when someone else dug up the treasure and kept it for themselves. Was the land and treasure his, or wasn’t it?
While it might be true that people can be cheats, liars, mountebanks, charlatans, and frauds, we ought to keep more in mind that the Lord promises to work all things to the good for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. If not always obvious, the reason for this is at least constant.
For one, this guards us from anxiety, depression, and anger management issues. For two, it helps us to not grow weary in doing what is good, since a man reaps what he sows.
But that’s just it, and a two-way street, comforting in both directions. If we are doing what we ought, because we love and trust God, we know there will be a reward from God Himself for those who are in Christ. Likewise, if others are perpetually misbehaving, we might take more pity on them, then, and pray they repent – not first and foremost for our sake, but for theirs.
So we come to the question of declining U.S. families in recent decades, for one last example. The kinds of things our countrymen have been doing for generations to ensure they do not have to share their time, attention, space, and resources with their own progeny are abominable to the Lord our God. They think not having children will make them happy, but they’re still not happy regardless. Try as they might to be godlike rather than godly, they just can’t quite pull it off. Once more, this time with feeling.
Likewise, and for very similar reasons, perhaps a lot of our leaders and their constituents have been behaving badly without thought or care for how such will impact the children of those of us who have been fruitful and multiplying. And, not content with that, increasingly we hear them talking about how we need fewer consumers, and a lower carbon footprint as a species globally. And maybe they become rather cross with the likes of my wife and me, as we announce we are expecting a ninth child in November.
Suppose I get to accurately describing the moral character of such people, particularly when they behave badly, and act corruptly, or propose heinous things that will hurt my family and me, as well as other families like ours. The big caution needs to be that I don’t cross a line at some point into grumbling against God, either implicitly or explicitly questioning whether He is still good, faithful, and true.
This Episode’s Links:
- ‘How Dare I?’: A Vindicated Jon Stewart, Who Long Ago Declared COVID Came From Wuhan Lab, Rips Critics – Joseph Curl, The Daily Wire
- New study says that WWII style rationing of food, fuel, clothing, and other goods is what we need to stop climate change… – Mister Retrops, Not the Bee
- Reign of Fire Speech – YouTube
- This metal detectorist is suing the FBI, claiming he reported 7 tons of Civil War-era gold and they stole it overnight – Harris Rigby, Not the Bee
- New reactors could revive U.S. uranium mining — and concerns about its ‘toxic legacy’ – Ted McDermott, Lee Enterprises, Billings Gazette
- Wind Farm Blamed For Surge In Dead Whales On U.S. Atlantic Coast – Michael Whittaker, The Daily Wire
- The decline of the large US family, in charts – Ephrat Livni, Dan Kopf, Quartz
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