Scripture Reading for February 13: Numbers 9-12
In today’s reading, the Israelites are ready to move out from Mt. Sinai after receiving the ten big ones. They have just eaten the Passover meal on the first anniversary of leaving Egypt. They have been traveling and camping in the wilderness for a year now and are ready to go to the land of promise. What excitement must have filled their hearts as they prepared to follow the cloud of God to their new home! The tribes were set in order and the trumpets were ready to sound and call the people to move out. (Numbers 10:1-7) The Ark of God was carried by the Levites and went in the lead with the cloud overshadowing them. What a sight! Nearly 3 million people and animals moving through the desert!
Shortly after moving out from Mt. Sinai, the rabble began to cause trouble by murmuring and complaining. The rabble were people who lived on the fringes of the camp. They were often not true Israelites and were of mixed descent. They followed God’s people, but really did not have a relationship with this God of Israel. They experienced the miracles and deliverance, but weren’t really believers. When the manna got old, the wilderness got hot and dry, and the journey got long and tiring, these “rabble-rousers” began to cause trouble. They began craving the foods of Egypt, remembering that the food there was “free”. (Numbers 11:4-6) They were tired of the manna and let God and Moses know about it!
God sent fire, burning up some of this group and Moses prayed for them. (Numbers 11:1-3) The people began wailing and complaining and Moses became distraught with God for all the trouble. Rabble-rousers have a tendency to stir up a stink!
Life is no different today. There are those in the church who like to complain and belly-ache! They are not happy unless they stir up some trouble. Their pastor never does anything right. God has brought them to this point to let them die. They don’t like the music. They don’t like the youth pastor. The pastor’s wife is cold and aloof! Nothing is as good as it used to be with the last pastor! The sermons are too long, the drums are too loud, and the pastor walked right by me and didn’t say hello or shake my hand!
When we complain, we are actually accusing God of failure to take care of us and do right by us. This complaint makes God angry! (Numbers 11:10) The leader usually feels bad too. When things don’t go as you expect or desire, avoid the temptation to complain. Instead, pray for your leadership. Ask them how you might help them. Look for something good to say and encourage them. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Remember that rabble-rousers always end up taking the heat! (fire from God!)