So, Israel is finally out of Egypt. They had witnessed the 10 plagues of Egypt, most of them effecting Egyptians only, not the Israelites at all. They’d watched the destruction of the Egyptian army, including the Pharaoh who had made their lives hard in the extreme. They’d celebrated the great victory of the Lord. They’d experienced a liberation like no nation had ever known before or after — without lifting a finger. And they left with the wealth of Egypt! Could there be any doubt about God’s loving kindness toward Israel.
Apparently, Israel thought so. They got hungry, and in the barren wilderness of western Arabia (Midian) they couldn’t image where their next meal might come from for the hundreds of thousands of Israelites, now away from the comparatively lush Egyptian Nile. They grumbled against Moses. “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3, NAS95. It’s all your fault, Moses!
Later, when the nation got thirsty, they grumbled again — actually, the text says that they quarreled with Moses.
In both cases, the Scripture says that they despite the fact that they were specifically and technically complaining and grumbling against Moses; they weren’t really grumbling against Moses (at least from God’s perspective — which is the one that really matters), they were grumbling against the Lord. Talk about chutzpah! Grumbling against the God who had just rescued them with a mighty hand. The ingratitude and lack of faith are amazing.
But wait! Isn’t this a little — a lot — like us. How much grumbling do we do? How much grumbling against leaders? (“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Romans 13:1, NAS95). Against husbands, parents, church leaders, and sometimes even God Himself. Even after all the multiplied ways God has taken care of us. What chutzpah!
Of course, God in his great kindness and grace provided for them what they needed — manna and, later, water from a stone. He continues to take good care of us, too.
It took years for Israel to “get it” — some of them never did. Let’s not let it take us that long.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.