NUMBERS 11:1-6; 14:26-27 – And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. 2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. 4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW. I am sure every Christian has clung to this truth of our Lord found in the letter to the Hebrews – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). During trying times, we rest in the unchanging love of God in Christ. We hold on by faith to His unchanging nature. It calms our soul and settles our raging hearts. Yes, the unchangeableness of God is a great source of comfort to His tried children. Yet, this character trait of God has another side we must equally embrace. Especially when we find ourselves like God’s people of old in today’s scripture.
Let’s enter the scene. God’s people are committing a serious sin; yes, a serious sin. They are complaining about their circumstances in life especially about their provisions. Imagine this day unfolding in the life of the Israelites. The kids wake up in the morning, “Mom, what’s for breakfast?” She replies, “I think we will have manna.” So, after breakfast the kids go off to play and return for lunch. “Mom, I’m hungry. What is there to eat?” Her reply? “Manna.” Then the husband comes home from a long hard day at work. He is greeted at the door by his wife and he asks, “Hi, honey, I’m starved. What’s for dinner?” And her day-long reply is “Manna.” This cycle continues and so does the complaining. How does God’s respond to His complaining, and thus ungrateful people? He is angry. Not a little irritated. Moses writes that “His anger was kindled.” He burned with anger over His people’s sin of complaining.
Now let’s tie that into the truth of God as the unchanging Being He is. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. If He was greatly angered over His people committing the sin of complaining way back then, well, He feels the same way toward us in the now. Yes, God gets angry at us when we sin and especially complaining. Now please, don’t be defensive and say, “Jim, that is not my God. He is the God of love and grace. He doesn’t get angry over my sin. It is all on Christ.” That is true, and we praise Him for it, but if we don’t think He gets angry at His sinning people, then we have a limited grasp of God’s character. The difference is God’s anger toward His child does not cause Him to deal with us by punishment, but by discipline or chastisement. He punished His Son once for our sins and we shall never suffer such from His hand. But don’t think God sits passively, not angered over His sinning children. He does and if we don’t see His unchangeable nature toward His sinning people, two things will happen. First, we will abuse grace by not fighting diligently against all sin. We may give ourselves a pass and not do daily battle against sin because we are under grace. Bad place to be. It creates the sin of presumption. Another thing will happen if we fail to believe God gets angry over the sins of His people is we will fail to see sin as God does. And when that occurs, sin is tolerated in our lives leading to a lukewarm heart.
God is unchanging in His nature. Praise Him for it as we rest in His unchanging love. But also, be mindful He is unchanging toward sin in His people. It provokes His anger and will lead to a period of painful chastisement.
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I complain and forget who is really in charge of my circumstances in life.”
QUOTE: “To complain about anything is to complain of God’s dealing with us in anything.”