41. Complaining Israelites, Quite A Character


By June Bowling

‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ Exodus 17:7

The Israelites faced some hardships and some anxious moments from the time they left Egypt until they entered the Promised Land and afterwards.

Today, as people of God, we face some hardships and anxious moments. How they reacted in these situations can be examples and warnings for us.

‘Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:6-13

Pay particular attention to verse 10.

Questions For Discussion

1. What is something you have complained about?

2. Recall some of the times when the Israelites complained about their circumstances or about Moses.

How did God react in those situations? (No peeking at the bottom.)

Now you can look on the back. If you have time, you may want to read more fully some of the circumstances of complaining.

3. In the Exodus examples, the Israelites had been out of Egypt anywhere from a few days to a few months. In these early accounts, God did not react with anger or punishment.

What might be the difference between those situations and later occurrences of complaining?

4. Most of the time when the Israelites complained, they referred back to Egypt.

Why does the past, ‘the good old days’, seem to be better to people when in a trying situation?

5. In Numbers 13 and Numbers 14, when faced with entering Canaan, the Israelites now seem to be afraid to face the future.

How can we face the future with more confidence than fear?

‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ James 1:2-4

How can being thankful in all circumstances help when we might want to complain?

When was a time you persevered through a trying time without complaining and it made you more mature?

‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.’ Psalm 100

How is the truth in this passage a good reminder for us when tempted to complain?

Times when the Israelites referred back to Egypt either stating that it would have been better for them to have stayed there than to die in the desert or about how well fed they had been while in Egypt.


"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."