When I began this challenge, it wasn’t my intention to go through the Bible, looking for every mention of grumble, however, it has become a fascinating word study. I’ve gotten very intrigued, and humbled, by the texts.
God takes grumbling very seriously.
All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:2-4)
The people were afraid because Moses had sent men into Canaan to “spy out the land”. The people received a bad report from 10 of the 12 men. Ten men came back and stirred up fear. Two men came back and said, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.”
Yes, the people living in the land of Canaan were strong; the cities were large and fortified. The men were gigantic! Both the location, all the people, and their neighbors were formidable. It did look hopeless, but God had said He was giving the land to the Hebrew people. God said it was theirs already. Surely they would trust Him.
As I read that familiar story, I thought, why did Moses send men into Canaan to spy out the land? Hadn’t God already promised the land to them? Why did Moses need to scout it out? So I went back to the beginning, and look what I found…
Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” (Numbers 13:1-2)
It wasn’t Moses’ idea to send spies. He was being obedient to God. God sent the spies into Canaan. Why? God didn’t need spies; He knew what was in the land of Canaan.
Well, well, well…. That puts a whole new perspective on this story.
God was testing the faith of the people. He wanted to see if they would trust Him.
What did they do? They grumbled.
And there it is again.
Grumble or trust?
Aren’t we a bit like those people wandering in the desert? We may be sure God is leading us in a certain direction, but when something happens that upsets the plans, we often retreat, doubting that we heard Him correctly. We don’t see it as a test of faith, a time to speak up and remember God’s faithfulness to us. We see it as defeat. We run back to “Egypt”, our own state of slavery. It may not be a bad place; it might be a comfortable place, but is it THE place God wants us to be? Trials and tests don’t scream “retreat”; they often beg for, “I serve a faithful God. Let’s go!”
I don’t want to grumble and miss the blessing of my promised land. I want to remember that God HAS been faithful. God WILL go before me. God has ALREADY defeated my enemies.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)