Thursday, April 25, 2019
If you have been following along with our daily devotions, you know that for the last few weeks we have been studying the lives of two great heroes of faith from the Old Testament – Abraham and Moses. I think it has been an exciting adventure, and I hope you are continuing to learn faith lessons from the events of their lives as I am. There is still a little ground to cover before the Israelites get into the Promised Land, so let’s pick up our stuff and head out on today’s spiritual journey.
It has been a year since the deliverance from Egypt, and the people of Israel have been commended for their growth and dedication to God. They have learned some valuable spiritual lessons and have started to understand the awesome nature of their God. They had been camped in one place for a while, and the security of that place gave them comfort and peace. Let’s see what happens when God rises up and begins to move them again.
Numbers 11:1-6 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
How sad. The people return to their discontent. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons for this grumbling and complaining attitude.
First, it is our human nature to get comfortable with the immediate and to lose sight of the goal. How many times have you gone on a long family vacation with a destination in mind, only to find that along the way you grow physically weary and emotionally worn and wish you could turn around and go back home? This is what was happening to the Israelites. The inconveniences of packing and the hardships of traveling became the focus of the immediate and they forgot to look at the finish line. Let’s be careful in our lives that we have not allowed the comforts and security of our present situations keep us from moving forward when God rises up and leads us on an exciting adventure to a promised land.
Second, we are told specifically that much of the complaining was a peer-pressured response to the outsiders that were among them. Moses specifically calls them rabble, and the word literally means a promiscuous assemblage of people. These people that traveled with the Israelites were from various backgrounds, and had escaped Egypt with Moses. They were not in tune with the Lord God, and were not committed to Him. They only wanted the personal benefits that seemed to be available from following God. When those benefits did not meet their personal standards, they complained, and the Israelites joined with them.
What a sad picture of the reality of today’s church: so many people simply attending for the personal benefits they can receive. I see this far too often. People show up in church because they have a need to be met. People make a verbal commitment and even volunteer for service, just so they can continue to use the church for personal gain. These people are the first ones to complain when things don’t go their way, and their attitude is highly contagious. I have seen Godly saints drawn into the web of wailing because they have allowed the influence of rabble to become important to them. I have heard long-time faithful followers of God begin to reflect on the way things used to be and wish they could go back because the past has been romanticized, the present is being criticized, and the future is minimized. This is the cycle of death for a church and for an individual.
This cycle seems to start, in most cases, with an outside influence of sin and faithlessness. We must always be on our guard and protect ourselves and our churches from this rabble. Do not allow the influence of popular opinion and worldly culture to diminish our faith in the Person, plan, and provision of the One True God. Yes, it will be hard, and increasingly so as the world continues to reject the ways of God. We will be persecuted for our stand against sin when the world no longer defines their behavior and choices as sin. It will become hard for us to keep our eyes on the goal of finishing the race. But finish we will, and we will finish well. We will be faithful and true. We will remain pure and holy. We will be the worthy vessels of God’s glory, made worthy by the blood of the Lamb. To Him be glory for ever and ever, Amen!