Scriptures for today: Exodus 16-18 Matthew 27: 21-26
“In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Ex. 16:2
Israel’s trek through the wilderness seems like a documentary on human behavior. Complaining is toxic, a malady that can be found wherever people get together. I’d like to say that it is not present in the church, but I’ll pass on that one.
Notice, that in the text it says, “…the whole community grumbled” I have a theory about that phrase. My guess is that the complaining didn’t start with the whole community. Complaining most often is initiated by one or more persons in the group. Leadership moves the mass, even if it is negative leadership
Israel had now been free from Egypt for two months and fifteen days. The strains of “Free at Last” have evidently now died down. Two and a half months was enough to dim their memory of a miraculous passage through the Red Sea. Their arch-enemy lay dead at the bottom of the sea.
“If only we had died …in Egypt!” If that were a song, it would have to be sung in a minor key. “If only…” Have you ever heard yourself say, “If only…” “If only I had known…” “If only someone had warned me…” You get it don’t you? I do too.
“There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but YOU have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Unthinkable isn’t it? This entire assembly had been given a cloud over their heads to prevent their being baked in the desert sun. They were provided a pillar of fire at night to protect them from predators. The taskmasters who whipped them with regularity in Egypt were now history.
What then was the problem? They were hungry. They longed for their favorite menu. The present crisis trumped every benefit that God had provided. Hunger was all that it took for unfair comparisons to set in. They compared the worst of the desert with the best of Egypt. Unwittingly, in their minds, they compared the heel of their former oppressors to the government of God and the leadership of Moses.
I’m starting to feel like the complainer against the complainers; the critic of the critics. Unfair comparisons are not confined to the Israelites. My assessments are not from a pedestal. I must say that considering the words of this text causes me to want to be a better person. Much has been given to me, and much is required of me. The words of the Apostle Paul come to me at this juncture. He said, “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. ” This verse teaches me that contentment is not a gift, but rather a learned behavior.” Contented people tend not to be complainers.
The New Testament reading for today records the suicide of Judas, a disciple of Jesus. When given the opportunity to profit on betraying Jesus, he unfairly compared a pocket full of change to the beauty of being close to Jesus. When he came to himself, he couldn’t live with himself. He ended his own life.
Make things look worse than they are.
Get what they focus on.
Make people despondent.
Enjoy life more.
Are more successful in all that they do.
I feel better now. I am challenged to continue in pursuit of the person that I wish to be. How about you?