Lately, I have been enjoying a study in the book of Numbers done by a local pastor. It has been very refreshing. I think it is natural for many people to be drawn to the poetic books of the old testament, but we often neglect the other parts. As a result we miss very important principals that God would have us learn. It’s difficult to learn the answer to life’s problems when we pray and pray, but fail to listen to the answer. It’s easy to pick a portion of Scripture (out of context) to make it say exactly what we want it to say so we can continue in our stubborn ways rather than dealing with them.
One thing I wrote at the top of my notebook during this study of Numbers is “Am I a Murmuring Israelite?” I would stare at it. Write it again the following week. Then stare some more. As I would ponder this, I would conclude that I needed to take note of this so I would not become a murmuring Israelite. After all, I never complained about anything unless it was true, so it is OK, right?
Now to understand this better, and to understand the huge impact it has had on me, you would have to know me. If my husband were reading this, he would already be laughing to himself after that last paragraph because for the past ten years, there has been just one little (yeah right, BIG) thing that I murmur and complain about in the area of following him. My defense? I am following you. I’ve followed you in this area for the past ten years. I’m allowed not to like it. Be grateful I am following you in this. I follow you when I don’t like it.
How I must have hurt him! How discouraging it must have been for him to start getting excited about something for the Lord, and then here I would come with my feelings hurt murmuring and complaining about the same old thing. Satan will use those things every single time. So I continued in my stubbornness instead of yielding myself in that area.
Here is how the book of Numbers impacted me. The first several chapters the same process is repeated over and over and over. I was getting tired of these people! Then, I would think, OK, we could have summarized this pretty quickly and moved on to the more important stuff. I believe the pastor put the stages of the cycle like this: Instruction, opportunity, failure, sin (murmuring), punishment. Over and over and over for several chapters. How can people go on like this for years and years, I thought to myself!
All the while I had been given an opportunity, failed, murmured, and was punished by being stuck in the same rut I was mad about to begin with. “Am I a Murmuring Israelite?” No, not me. It took me all 20 of the first chapters of Numbers and ten years of marriage before it finally dawned on me. I am a murmuring Israelite.
Yes, the Israelites followed God physically. They followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. BUT THEY MURMURED THE WHOLE WAY!!! Were they probably tired of manna? Yes. That was true. They were just being honest, right? Was it difficult wondering around thirsty at times, tired, plagued during times of trial and punishment? Yes. That was difficult. But it was their murmuring that got them in trouble. They could not be happy and have faith during those difficult times. They also complained about their leader, Moses. They did this all the time, while seemingly following the cloud. They must have thought all those years, just as I had done, that they were were not wrong in their complaints, just as I had been doing: not just for weeks, not just for a chapter, but for years and entire chapters of my life.
Why is it so important, ladies, to not only follow your husband in areas, but also not to murmur? Because, eventually, not only will it impact your relationship with God, your husband will get tired of it and you will cause him to sin. In Numbers 20:7-13, Moses sinned with his mouth and called the Israelites rebels, and smote the rock when he was not commanded to. You see, the Israelites had been rebels. God had even called them rebels, but it was not for Moses to call them rebels. God was ready to reveal Himself in a great way and give them that opportunity stage again. When it came time for God to use Moses for this miracle, Moses’s attitude, got in the way. He became a murmuring Israelite himself. God’s will was still accomplished in that water came from the rock, but it was not done in the way that pleased God: without murmuring. You can cause your husband to give up on you and also cause Him to disobey God.
You can follow God and do His will, but if you are doing it with the wrong attitude and murmuring, not only are you sinning, but you could be forced to repeat that same lesson and trial over and over again. Even if it takes 10 or even 40 years.
Am I a murmuring Israelite? Am I causing the man God has put in my life to lead me to sin by being a stumbling block of bad attitudes? Don’t just follow. Follow joyfully.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17.
May 11, 2015
Note From 2017:
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16.
I probably quoted the first part of the above passage as a kid a hundred times. It was often the verse of the day at church camp or a theme in Jr. Church. Today, I pondered how ironic it is that we try to teach our children this principle, but fail to realize that we do not adhere to it as adults.