Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Grumbling With The Rabble and Getting What We Want

Totally surprised. That's how I feel this morning. The Chronological Study Bible reading today was from Numbers 11-13. Four verses in, I found a surprise.

"And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, 'Who will give us meat to eat?'" Numbers 11:4 nasb

Somehow, I had missed the fact that "rabble" traveled along, although Exodus 12:38 makes it clear that they did. How did the rabble become part of the journey? It appears (to me) that, when the children of Israel went to their neighbors and asked for treasures (gold, jewels), the "rabble" saw the exchange. They wanted to be where the riches were, so they joined in.

The word "rabble" in Hebrew is a word that can be translated "a promiscuous assemblage". They weren't godly. They didn't care about obeying God's laws or celebrating His provision. They didn't go by the standards of the Israelites, but they wanted what being a part of the group offered.

Moses let them come along.

Maybe Moses allowed them because he knew the One he followed. He was in no danger of being led astray by the rabble. The children of Israel were.

Problems developed when the rabble began to grumble. Pretty soon, the children of Israel joined in. They whined, wept, and basically threw a fit because God had given them manna, the food from heaven, when they wanted fish, cucumbers, and onions.

For a moment, let's review what God had done. He had taken slaves who had nothing, made them wealthy overnight, provided food from heaven, led them on a prolonged outing, and given them everything they needed. He demonstrated His great power at the Red Sea, and many times afterward, and had gone before them and with them. It was like nothing ever experienced before.

Much like what He's done for this country. 

All the blessings didn't matter to them, because they wanted what they had in Egypt, when they were slaves. 

I like fish, cucumbers, and onions, too, but really.

The fish, cucumbers, and onions did not represent a healthy meal on the Mediterranean diet. They represented the lifestyle of slavery. The life before God liberated them.

I remember my lifestyle of slavery. You couldn't pay me good money to go back to that life. When God set me free, I fixed my eyes on Him. I'm not saying it was easy or instantaneous. I'm saying it was worth it to leave the old ways behind.

If I had kept my eyes fixed on my past, however, it might have been a different thing. If I had rehearsed the transient pleasures of a life of sin, I would have missed the joys of a life of obedience.

The trouble-making-rabble people were allowed to join the group. When that happened, one of two things were sure to follow. The Israelites could have held to their godly standards and helped the rabble to change or they could listen to the rabble and follow along.

They followed the rabble.

We, too, are blessed beyond measure. When we take our eyes off God and His blessings and put them on what we don't have or what we used to have in our lifestyle of slavery, however, we can quickly become just like the rabble. Complaining. Whining. Angry. Rebellious.

The rabble-followers incited God to anger and experienced a discipline they couldn't believe. He gave them what they wanted, and it nearly destroyed them.

I am deeply concerned for our country. We have longed for the pleasures of slavery, and I fear God is going to give us exactly what we've wanted. 

As the people of God, we can follow one of two paths. Obedience or the rabble. Gratitude or grumbling. We can't follow both, so we much choose. Which will it be?

The discipline of a nation rests on our decision. Choose well.

"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb 

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