By Philip Graham Ryken, President – Wheaton College
In Exodus 15, the Israelites camped by the springs of Elim for several weeks, lingering under the palm trees and taking long drinks of cool water. Then it was time to move on. They were on a spiritual journey—a pilgrimage that reveals the pattern of the Christian life.
The spiritual geography of Israel’s exodus from Egypt can be mapped onto the experience of our own souls. Although there are times of refreshing, usually they do not last for long. Soon it is time to head back into the desert, which is a place of testing and spiritual growth.
The Israelites headed deeper into the wilderness. Soon they were tired and hungry, and once again they started to complain. Whining was Israel’s besetting sin. It started when Moses first went to Pharaoh and people complained that he was making their job harder instead of easier (Ex. 5:21). They grumbled at the Red Sea, where they accused Moses of bringing them out into the desert to die. The grumbling continued more or less for 40 years, as they became a nation of malcontents.
Discontent With God
Our own complaints are not caused by our outward circumstances; rather, they reveal the inward condition of our hearts. Really, the Israelites had nothing to complain about. They were not running out of food, but were confusing what they wanted with what they needed. This is often the source of our discontent: thinking that our “greeds” are really our needs.
The Israelites also exaggerated the advantages of their former situation. “Remember the good old days?” They said. Looking back with longing on their time in Egypt, they imagined themselves bellying up to Pharaoh’s buffet. Yet it is doubtful that, as slaves, they were ever treated so lavishly.
Israel’s attitude is a warning against the great sin of complaining. Although they complained to Moses, they were really grumbling against God. By saying that it would have been better for God to let them die back in Egypt, they were really saying that they wished they had never been saved.
We need to be honest about the fact that all of our dissatisfaction is discontent with God. Usually we take out our frustrations on someone else. But God knows that when we grumble, we are finding fault with him. A complaining spirit indicates a problem in our relationship with God.
The irony, of course, is that God always gives us exactly what we need. For the Israelites, this meant manna in the wilderness. For us it means the true Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
Are you discontent with God? Do you often find yourself complaining about circumstances? Jesus said in “Mat 11:28, Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. He also said in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. The Bible says, “confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) If you’ve never done that or maybe you need to recommit your life to Him and make Him Lord of your life, then please don’t wait any longer. Ask Him now in a prayer like this:
Father, Please forgive me for my many mistakes. I know that I haven’t always been the person that I should be. I accept the sacrifice of your Son Jesus for my sins and I ask you to forgive me and help me to live the rest of my life for you. You alone have the answers and can teach me of your perfect plan for my life.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen
Congratulations, if you have prayed this prayer the Bible says, “Therefore, if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cr 5:17)
If you’ve prayed this prayer for the first time or are renewing your commitment to the Lord, please let us know so that we can pray for you as you start your new life with Jesus.