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May 27, 2011

The Prayer Life of Moses

Exodus 16:2

Part Twelve

Grumbling To Go  Back

“The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”

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God provides a very precise timetable for the people coming out of Egypt.  He has delivered them by His power alone and destroyed Pharaoh and his army. God proved Himself true to His covenant at every turn, and demonstrated His love for His people.  The people, however, consistently ignored the power of God, and grumbled against Moses every time any issue arose.

       The Grumblings at Marah.  After three days of traveling into the wilderness, the people of Israel began grumbling (“יִּלֹּנוּ”) against Moses for the lack of water at Marah (Exodus 15:24).  Moses cried out to the LORD in prayer, and the LORD provided a tree to make the bitter waters of Marah sweet.  If I were Moses, I doubt I would have had his patience in dealing with these people.  These folks had lived in unbelief and doubted God’s power and plans at every turn.  No matter how great the miracles God performed, the people never demonstrated a consistent faith in God’s love for them.  Moses knew that when people sink to their lowest spiritual levels and dwell in sinful unbelief, he had to pray for them even as they grumbled against him.  We need to learn from Moses that prayer means we pray for people grumbling against us.

       The Grumblings in the Wilderness.  On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from Egypt, the whole congregation grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1-2).  Notice the precision of God’s record here.  God knows the date and time of every grumble we utter against Him.  This time, the people grumbled because they did not have meat and bread to the full, as they claimed to have had in Egypt (Exodus 16:3).  Yahweh spoke to Moses and provided quail and manna from God for them to eat (Exodus 16:13-15). Jesus had a discussion with the Jews of His day about manna.  They claimed that their fathers ate manna in the wilderness, as bread from heaven.  Jesus replied that Moses did not give them the bread out of heaven, but His Father gave the bread.  Jesus went on to explain that “the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:31-33).  God provided both meat and bread for the people of Israel because He loved them.  When people grumble every time they come under pressure, we need to remember to pray steadfastly for them.  Instead of becoming another grumbler with them, we should pray for them before God.  He will provide all we need every day (Psalm 145:15-16).

      The Grumblings at Rephidim.  As the people progressed into the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, they lacked water.  The people quarreled (“יָּרֶב”) with Moses there, and grumbled, saying, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:1-4).  This same pattern of unbelief and attacks by grumbling and quarrelling characterized the people of Israel as they followed God.  Just because we follow Christ does not mean He will not lead us through dry and dusty places.  We need to follow Him, no matter where He leads us.  We also need to learn to pray like Moses.  Moses heard the grumbling and quarrelling, and cried out to the LORD: “What shall I do to this people?  A little more and they will stone me.” (Exodus 17:4).  Moses brought his deepest concerns before Yahweh, and expected immediate help and guidance.  As always, God provided  a way out of the problem.  In this case, God brought forth water from stones using the rod of Moses so that the people could drink. The people did not give up blaming Moses and Aaron for their problems, even after all the times God delivered them.  They would grumble later about the report of the spies returning from scouting out the promised land, with disastrous results (Numbers 14:1-45).  The people would also grumble against Moses and Aaron after God dropped Korah and his people into the ground, again with disastrous results (Numbers 16:1-50).  In each case, we see that Moses interceded for the people of Israel when they were at their worst.  Moses never let personal, undeserved attacks, stop him from praying for God to help the people of Israel, even when they sinned the greatest.

So we learn more about the prayer life of Moses.

        ●  Prayer means that we should not grumble to other people, or against them.  If we have a problem, we should take it up with God first.  If we lack food, water, or something else, we should pray first.

        ●  Prayer means that when people grumble against us, and we have been following the Lord Jesus, then we should pray for the grumblers.  As people grumble, often about what they do not have, we should pray all the more earnestly for them.  God uses prayer to increase our faith in His plans, so that we can encourage others to follow His plans.

        ●  Prayer means that we learn to cry out to God on behalf of the needs of other people.  In some cases, other people need us to pray for them, because they have lost all hope in God. When folks like us reach a spiritual bottom in our lives, we all need the faithful prayer support of our friends.  Sometimes when we hit bottom, we even grumble about our friends.  Real friends still love us, and pray for us, and reach out and grab our hands in the name of Jesus, even after we have grumbled about them to others. 

Application for Today

        Today I have learned more about grumbling.  My fears increase my doubts, and loosen my tongue to grumble.  I may even start to grumble about the best spiritual friends I have.  As I pray, I will remember to stop grumbling, and reach out to my grumbling friends in love before the Lord Jesus.  As you pray today, will you be reaching out in love to others through your prayers, even friends or enemies who grumble against you today?