|From the Pastors Desk|
|Tabernacle||Consequences of Unthankfulness||Lesson 18|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|February 3 2002||Bible Lessons
In our last lesson, we began examining a reoccurring subject in both the New Testament, and in the account of the Israelites in the wilderness. That subject is "murmuring" or un-thankfulness. "Murmuring" is a Spiritual ailment that can destroy a Believer's Spiritual life, and can bring defeat to any church.
We will see this tool of Satan rear its ugly head over and over again, as we track the Israelites in the wilderness, right up until they built the Tabernacle and beyond. As a matter of fact, this was a chronic problem with Israel throughout all of its history. Sad to say, it is a current problem in the church, today.
Murmuring = (Greek) The low constant sound of a running brook; The cooing of doves; The contented sounds of a baby; To grumble in low tones (as the cooing of doves) to oneself or secretly to others; To confer together in a secretive manner about matters of discontent; A secret debate in quarrelsome discontent.
"Murmuring" is one of those terms that can have a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. However, when used of Christians in the church or Israel in the wilderness, it is not referring to the beautiful sounds of a brook or the cooing of doves or the sweet sounds of a baby.
Murmuring is an expression of one person to oneself, or of several people expressing discontent in a secretive manner, without the intent of bringing proper resolution.
Murmurings erupt because of selfish discontent, and the absence of true thankfulness. All "good" Americans or maybe it is just all humans seem to have a special strain of this disease of murmuring. You hear it almost daily concerning the weather.
If we have a week of cloudy weather, that equals the murmuring of: "Will the sun ever shine again?" BUT let the sun shine for a week or two and you will hear: "Man! I don't think it knows how to rain." Of course, there is that very special strain of murmuring that says: "Why can't we have a good snow in Texas." I'm not sure if the last one is a strain of murmuring, or if it is just whining. Maybe, we can figure it out someday. (ha!)
Those complaints about the weather really aren't good illustrations of true murmurings, BUT they do point out the discontent and the absence of resolution that is present in murmurings. It also shows another major component of murmurings, that of un-thankfulness, or how quickly we forget the graces of God. Possibly better stated, we equate the purpose of God's graces as: "For my benefit and comfort".
It is amazing how un-thankful we are for life sustaining rain. Especially after we've had two or three days of it in a row. In like manner, we soon become very un-thankful for the sunshine after only a day or two of 100º weather.
If you combine the discontent, the absence of resolution, the un-thankfulness that we humans exhibit in regard to the weather, and add to that a continual undertone in a secretive manner without any purpose of proper resolution, you have a pretty good picture of Biblical murmuring. Like so many aspects of carnality, the initial act is not nearly as bad as the resulting effect of that act. This is ever so true of murmuring.
Throughout the Old Testament and the accounts of Israel in the wilderness, we have examples of murmurings and their results. In the New Testament, we have the doctrinal command not to murmur, and the solution for stopping it.
We are not given the actual accounts of the murmurings of Moses, but we are given the results of his murmurings. The results of constant murmuring are always the same. The circumstance surrounding those results, or the path to those results may be vastly different. There are some things that will always result from murmuring.
Because this subject of murmuring is so vast and will come up over and over again, let's establish at the outset that murmuring is not a single act of discontent, but is a constant action that literally becomes a way of life, or at least become a vital part of everyday living. Therefore, I will not always state "constant" murmuring, because murmuring is a constant act. However, because of our English use of the word, we often forget that fact. So, I will from time to time insert the modifier "constant". If I fail to do so, please have a few extra "constants" lying around in your mind, and attach one to the term "murmuring".
Quite often murmuring starts from a single issue. However, those who give themselves to murmuring often find that they are soon murmuring about many subjects and sometimes about almost every subject.
Let's look again at the results in Moses' life. Then, we want to move back and try to get a handle on how and why murmuring causes such results. Please refresh your minds from your knowledge of Scripture, or think back over the last lesson, and allow your memory to have ready access to the Biblical context of this account.
Acts 7:20-23 "At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. 21 "But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. 23 "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.
Moses had been raised in the palace of the king of Egypt. He had been trained in all the wisdom of Egypt. He lived in the kings palace for approximately 40 years. During that time, Moses not only learned HOW to use words in a powerful manner, but he also learned HOW to back up those powerful words with very capable actions.
By the age of 40, Moses was a very able speaker, and could accomplish great things. Not only was he able to speak and do things in a powerful manner, he had the wisdom and training to accomplish those things in a proper manner. Please keep these things in mind, as we look at the results of murmuring or un-thankfulness in Moses' life 40 years later.
Exodus 4:10-14 Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." 11 So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." 13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
Moses was a great man of God! However, Moses was not born a great man of God. Being trained in all the wisdom of Egypt did not make Moses a great man of God. Learning how to speak and act in a dynamic manner did not make Moses a great man of God. AS a great man of God, Moses could use his family background, his training and experience in a manner that could accomplish great things for God.
Before we go any further, let me interject a vital truth that we will see over and over again. God can use all of your training, ability, financial means, influence, etc., BUT you don't have to wait until you are trained, have your abilities honed or have great wealth to be a great person for God, or serve Him well!!
IF you trust your training, ability, wealth, etc. to make you great in God's sight and accomplish great things for God, you will NEVER be a great person for God, and all your accomplishments will be self-centered and therefore godless.
Even though Moses was a great man of God, he DID NOT always act in the manner of a great man of God.
Sometimes people get upset with me because I point out the failings of the Bible characters, even the great characters. However, God has recorded, for us, both the greatness and the weakness of the individuals found in the Word of God.
We are to learn from both, their great acts and the self-centered actions. That is WHY God had BOTH recorded for us to read and study. We MUST keep both in balance, and in the proper order given by God to receive the needed instructions from such examples, and to live according to God's grace.
When we realize that these great people of the Bible were humans like all of us, and they had many of the same weaknesses and struggles, then we can have hope that, we too, can become a great people for God.
As we study HOW and WHY these people became great for God, then we can more easily surrender to God, so He can accomplish His purpose in our lives. Look at the Divine commentary on this matter.
Acts 14:11-16 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 "who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.
James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
These were not great men of God, because of their ability or what they had done. They surrendered to God, so He could be great in them and through them. Anything that is "great" for God MUST be accomplished by God's power and grace.
When our nature, our desires and our ways are given wholly over to God's direction, then God can work through us in spite of our weakness to accomplish His great purpose, and can use any human strength we already possess or have developed.
BUT when we begin to rely on, or have self pride in our human accomplishments, we will soon cease to be thankful for what God has given, and our own will and accomplishments will become supreme over, and in the place of God's will.
Look once again, at the results in Moses' life, and particularly at one fact in this account.
Exodus 4:10-14 Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." 11 So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." 13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." 14 So
the anger of the LORD was kindled
against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
This is the first time the phrase "the anger of the Lord" is used in the Bible. This phrase is used some 30 time in the Old Testament, depending on which translation you refer to.
It is VERY interesting to note that this phrase "the anger of the Lord" is ONLY used in connection with the people of God, or the servants of God. "The anger of the Lord" is aroused when His people fail to live in thankfulness, and therefore become disobedient. Instead of living in God's blessings, they live in the results of un-thankfulness and therefore serve their own desires.
We will not take the time to look at each of the 30 + references, even though it would be a VERY profitable study. Let me point out a fact from those passages that needs to be applied to our own living.
Each of these passages mentioning the "the anger of the Lord", have to do with those who have committed or vowed to God to do or accomplish something. The Word of God had much to say about, and to those who make promises or vows to God.
Numbers 30:2 "If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
Deuteronomy 23:21-23 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 "But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 "That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. 5 it is better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?
Malachi 1:13-14 You also say, 'Oh, what a weariness!' and you sneer at it," says the LORD of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?" says the LORD. 14 "But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and makes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished-- for I am a great King," says the LORD of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.
If we study these passages, we might find out why God's anger is aroused when a Believer "goes-bad" on their commitment to God. When we makes a "vow" to the banker to pay so much a month on our house, the banker gets a little upset when we fail to carry through on that "vow". How about your vow to God?!? Should it be any less urgent?
Don't think that a promise to God is something to be taken lightly. When we volunteer our life or service to God, God expects us to follow through, and we are to follow through with our best! Not with what is left over or second best.
When doing things for God's work, the attitude is often: Get it done as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible. After all. anything is good enough for God, and I need to get this done quickly, so I can get on with important things.
If we make a promise to the banker, we had better find a way to fulfill that promise. If we have promised something to God, THEN we had better find the time to keep that promise. We need to carefully consider our promise or vow to God, before we make such a vow.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Every Believer should present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and therefore acceptable, BUT you should not make such a vow lightly!
While on the subject of vows, let me share another passage on vows. The vow spoken of in this passage has little to do with the subject of this lesson, BUT in light of the present world situation, I think it will bring a little hope to the scene.
I was listening to a program on Fox News the other day, and the guest "expert" was ask a question that went something like:
"Do you think there will ever be peace in middle-east region? Do you think the Jews and Arabs can ever live side by side with such diverse religious beliefs?"
I tried to tell them that it was possible and that it would happen, BUT they didn't listen to me, even though I talked right to the television.
Isaiah 19:21-22 Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. 22 And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
Oh! Yes!! There will peace in the region. As a matter of fact, there will be peace throughout the whole earth. Anyone who doesn't have a working knowledge of God's plan of the ages, has little hope for the future.
That peace will only come about when the Prince of Peace has His rightful place in the hearts and lives of the peoples of the world. That will not happen until Christ comes back in His Second Advent and sets up His Kingdom.
That had very little to do with the lesson, but it is a wonderful hope, isn't it? Pardon my digression, but I don't know how anyone can stand to listen to the news, and not have a good understanding of God's plan. If I didn't have some knowledge of God and His plan, the events of today and the projected events of the future would drive me out of my mind.
As we look at the results of the un-thankfulness of Moses, let's first go to God's commentary on this subject, and see the progression of this devastating sin. Then we can compare the Divine commentary with the events and reactions in Moses' life.
Of course, then we must do something that is not always pleasant, but absolutely necessary. We must make personal application to our own lives. There are a number of passages to which we could turn to see this progression, but one is so very clear. So, let's turn to...
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
As we look at this context, we will of necessity see many facts that do not seem to directly apply to murmuring or un-thankfulness. OR at least, it would seem, on the surface, that these facts do not directly apply to the subject.
However, we need to see a few of the peripheral facts to have a clear picture of the results and progression of murmuring. Actually, all the facts of this passage have a direct impact on this subject of the results and progression of murmuring.
Notice that the "truth" mentioned in this passage is the "Gospel of Christ". These people of Romans 1 saw only a small portion of that Gospel. That fact will be important when it comes to seeing where that truth is found, and what these people did with that truth.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Please, note that the "wrath" of God is revealed against those who use this "truth" improperly. In this context, the improper use of this truth was suppressing it.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (Deity), so that they are without excuse,
In this context, these people suppressed the truth, and the truth they suppressed could be clearly seen in creation. Any person can see from creation that:
Romans 1:21-22 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
These people knew that the Creator was powerful and was Deity. In spite of this knowledge, they did not glorify the Creator as God, and they WERE NOT thankful for what the Creator had provided through that creation.
Romans 1:23-25 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Anytime a person changes the glory of God into something less than it is, that person will also exchange the truth of God for that which it is not.
As we look back at Moses, we will see that he also changed the truth of God. God had allowed Moses to be mighty in speech and deeds, BUT Moses told God, to His face, that he was slow of speech, and could not do the job for which God was calling him. That was a distortion of the truth, and a suppression of God's truth and grace (compare Acts 7:20-23earlier in the lesson).
Romans 1:26-32 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Notice the progression. They had a knowledge of God, but they suppressed that knowledge and did not glorify Him, nor were they thankful.
Therefore, the downward slide!!!
Every person who has God's truth, suppress it, does not glorify Him as God and is not thankful will take this downward slide. Not everyone will participate in every sin mentioned here, BUT all will take the "slide".
Acts 7:23-30 "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 "And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 "For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 "And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' 27 "But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 'Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?' 29 "Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. 30 "And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.
There are many things in this passage, but let your attention be drawn to v. 25. Moses had the knowledge, from some source, that God would deliver the Israelites by his hand. Somewhere during the next 40 years, Moses suppressed that knowledge, and no longer gave God the honor of being Lord and Master of his life. As we see in.....
Exodus 3:1-4 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." 4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
Exodus 3:9-14 "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" 12, "Now therefore, go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." 13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
God said, "You go!" Moses said. "Send somebody else."
Moses went from trying to do God's work through his own strength, to refusing to be a part of God's work at all. Moses took the slide!!!! And the anger of the Lord was kindled.
Hebrews 10:35-36 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance (patience), so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Moses was a human with a nature like each of us. Moses ALMOST lost his reward. He was on the "back-side" of the desert for 40 years, and during at least part of that time he lost his vision.
BUT God's grace is sufficient!! WOW!!!! Am I glad that God's grace is sufficient, OR ELSE I would be in real trouble, AND so would you!
We also need endurance or patience so that after we have done the will of God, we will receive our reward, and not kindle the anger of God.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2002|