Whining at Moses

Moses Parts the Sea

Now that we’re up to Exodus in Sunday School,  I am reminded once again of how much murmuring and whining the Children of Israel do.  Clearly the major theme of Exodus is God’s power to save.  But packed in there is a pretty strong message that God’s people:

1.  Complain a lot to the prophet

And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.”

2.  Have no idea what is really going on

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? 

3.  Forget past blessings very quickly

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them

All of these are probably still true of us to an unfortunate extent.  Except you.  I’m sure you’re fine.


12 comments for “Whining at Moses

  1. I’m only complaining because I’ve never even seen a fleshpot, much less had to leave one, thank you very much.

  2. This is a great post. The counterpoint, of course, is Numbers 27 and Luke 18:1-8, where the complaining ends well. (And maybe Emma Smith with the tobacco on the floor.) The trick is knowing what to do when.

  3. We are inveterate complainers. Because we are not satisfied with being God’s creation…but we desire to become little gods unto ourselves.

  4. Brian, I sort of think “fleshpot” is one of the cooler vocabulary words in the OT.

    Julie, yeah I think we all like to tell ourselves we’re Numbers 27 when too often we’re Martin Harris and the lost pages. Hence the number of times God has to tell us to listen and obey.

  5. A fourth point has already been illustrated nicely in the comments:

    “When charged with sin, turn and point finger at someone else.” (Anyone have a scripture reference? : )

  6. I don’t if number one can quite be considered complaining. According to the text, the people were about to seriously physically harm him, or perhaps even kill him.

  7. Amy @6, not a scripture reference, but my favorite explanation of the “apple incident” in Eden was that Adam actually ate the fruit first, then used his newly gained knowledge of good and evil to blame Eve. : P

  8. I have long found perverse satisfaction in the story of Elijah’s duel with the false prophets of Baal, recorded in 1 Kings 18. My favorite verse,

    And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

    Wouldn’t it be so much fun to stage such a contest on Temple Square? There seem to be plenty of candidates to represent the Baal worshipers. :-)

  9. Jim,

    Can you even imagine a version of this story where OW is Ahab?

    But if one is honest one should be able to at least imagine it. The Lord does love the underdog after all and the optics are quite nice with the returned missionary women being denied access to the tabernacle in the shadow of a mall built at great expense by the Lord’s priests.

    I’m not an OW supporter and generally on your side of the questions, but fear the lack of humility with which you present the case. Be careful what you ask for, because you may not like what fires are lit. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the Lord used the humble to chastise the mighty.

  10. I did not suggest anything about “OW”, but I can easily envision the poignant and authoritative prophetic voice,

    …How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

    And perhaps most significantly, the reaction,

    …And the people answered him not a word.

  11. And yet they stay with Moses despite the kvetching. I think that the whining, like Laman and Lemuel’s murmuring, is as much or more a narrative construct than it was reality. It highlights Moses’s struggles and heroism and God’s mercy. But look at all the people who donated a great deal to the tabernacle and went into battle for Moses. When any author, including the author of Exodus, paints with broad strokes and characterizes an entire people, it’s most often hyperbole for narrative effect. As readers the question “why would the author depict them as whiners?” is more interesting than “why were they such ungrateful schlemiels?”

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