Grumble and stumble. Huh? What's that supposed to mean? Simple. If you want to stumble in your Christian walk, disappoint God, aggravate and depress others, all you've got to do is open your big mouth and grumble. We refer to grumbling by all sorts of others words such as complain, gripe, whine, murmur, mutter, and at least one not-so-nice word that starts with a "b." But no matter how you put it, to grumble is most assuredly to stumble in the eyes of both God and those who have a close walk with Him.
The Bible supplies us with examples of grumblers and the trouble they brought upon not only themselves but also many others.
The IsraelitesA simple walk through the history of the Israelites as they made their exodus from Egypt and wandered in the desert for
Now, wouldn't you think crossing the dry bed of the Red Sea with a miraculous wall of water on either side of you would stick in your mind for a few days to remind you of how powerful your God really is? Or what about the fact that all of the Egyptians who pursued were then drowned when those walls of water came crashing down upon them. Maybe a short memory wasn't the problem, though. Maybe they just didn't realize grumbling was wrong. After all, complaining comes so naturally to us, doesn't it? This is surely one reason why God gave them a decree and law so as to remind them to listen, do right, and pay attention.
16. One-and-a-half months after leaving Egypt, the whole community
grumbled against Moses and Aaron because they were hungry. They even went
so far as to wish they had died in Egypt! The Word of God, though, makes
it very clear that their grumbling against Moses and Aaron was actually
grumbling against the Lord Himself. Even though He heard their grumbling,
God graciously and miraculously sent quail for meat and manna for bread.
In fact, even though the Israelites didn't follow the instructions regarding
the gathering of the manna at first, God still faithfully supplied manna
for them for
The last time they were thirsty; now they're hungry.
I can certainly sympathize. I can get pretty cranky when I'm hungry or
thirsty and there's no food or drink in sight. But to wish I had died as
a slave in Egypt? I don't
Maybe the lack of water made their brains get fuzzy or something. Can you imagine accusing someone who had gone to all the trouble which Moses had for them of doing it only so they would have to die? And if they stoned Moses, then just who did they think they could rely upon for water, and who would they have to blame the next time? How bright is it to criticize a leader selected by God who has done nothing but intervene on your behalf in the past? Isn't it absolutely amazing how patient God is with them--supplying water for them after they act like that?
Uh-oh. This really isn't looking good, is it? Here
they are, a year down the road, and they still haven't learned to
keep their lips zipped when they faced hardship. God had never failed to
come through for them in the crunch, and yet that seems to keep slipping
their memories. Do you suppose losing part of the camp (and I assume more
than a few of their fellow Israelites) caught their attention? One might
Numbers 11:4-35. The rabble with them began to crave other food and caused the Israelites to start wailing for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. ("Rabble" refers to the non-Israelite mixed group of people who followed the Israelites out of Egypt.) This wailing came from people in every family! Moses was troubled, and the Lord was angry. All the complaining of the people sent Moses into despair until he was burdened enough to ask the Lord to just put him to death. God gave Moses some helpers. And God sent quail for meat. But this time there was a catch. He struck them with a plague. The people who had craved other food were buried, because they had angered the Lord.
Now it's those outsiders or foreigners who stirred the pot. But notice that the grumbling didn't end with the "rabble." It spread like wildfire until there was at least one in every family who griped. What affect did this have on Moses? He was troubled enough that he wanted to die. And small wonder--the outskirts of the camp being fried to a crisp the last time the people grumbled was probably still vivid in his memory. Notice that those who had craved the other food were buried. If you put it all together, we're talking about at least one member of every family dying! Grumbling and grieving a leader appointed by God is serious business. If only those in the church today could remember that.
This is getting really bad and ugly, now. It's not just the regular folks grumbling, but even Aaron is in on it now. And Aaron was Moses' right-hand man! Aaron had been there the whole time to see the terrible effect of grumbling against God's chosen leader. And yet, for some mysterious reason, he's now doing the very same thing. This just goes to show how anyone can be susceptible to grumbling and fault-finding if he or she is subjected to hearing it for a prolonged period of time. And talk about humble! Good old Moses came through for Miriam even considering how she and Aaron had treated him. What a stand-up guy!
I can identify with the
The Israelites had grumbled a lot. Grumbling had
become commonplace--"old hat." And now, in their rebellion and grumbling,
they tried something a little new--getting council members to form an "official"
rebellion against God's leaders. After all, individual grumbling had gotten
them nowhere. Why not attack like a pack of wolves? Apparently, God despises
group grumbling as much as or more than individual grumbling--to the tune
of the loss of the lives of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their entire families
as well as
Are you getting as weary of all of this constant grumbling as I am? And just think--we're only reading about it. Just imagine how Moses felt, having to deal with it day in and day out. And horror of horrors, think about what our holy and righteous God thought of all the grumbling!
Grumblers in the New TestamentExamples of grumbling certainly aren't restricted to the Old Testament. There are several examples and commands in the New Testament concerning grumbling.
Jude. This book is about those who have slipped in among Christians but really are godless men who change the grace of God into a license for immorality. They are identified as grumblers and faultfinders who follow their own evil desires, boast about themselves, and flatter others for their own advantage.
ConclusionThrough this review of the scriptures, we can see how grumbling can start small but end up having a very big and very bad affect. We can surely identify with some of these examples ourselves. It can seem so natural to grumble. We can even delude ourselves into thinking that we need to grumble or are even entitled to grumble. But the fact of the matter is that God does not want us to grumble. He does want us to share our problems with Him, but it's all in the attitude. Think about the Israelites. Was there ever once an example in any of those cases we reviewed in which they first asked God for what they needed or wanted? No, in each case, they grumbled first, second, and last. And after the first couple of times, punishment followed their grumbling.
Even though God is very patient and loving, scripture makes it clear that there is a limit to the grumbling He will endure before there are serious consequences. It can be individual grumbling, family grumbling, community grumbling, or mass "official" grumbling, but it is all sin and unacceptable in God's eyes. Every time we grumble, we stumble. Worse, each time we grumble, we do so in the presence of at least one other person. And, as we see from the examples set forth in God's Word, that leads to others becoming "desensitized" to grumbling. The next thing you know, we have caused someone else to grumble and stumble. And then they "infect" someone else with the sin of grumbling, and on and on and on spreads the plague of grumbling and its far-reaching consequences.
Just as the Israelites were instructed in Exodus
Copyright © 2004 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.