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Yesterday we saw that we should not be a complaining people. (You can read that here) But God also tells us to bring our petitions before Him. So what’s the difference? How do we come before Him without complaining? Maybe we can draw more from the Numbers 11 passage.
Moses listened to them complain. All the people throughout all the clans stood at the door of their tent and wept. They wept for everything they did not have. They lamented to Moses and to God. God heard them and His anger burned among them and destroyed some of the outer parts of the camp. This caused them to cry out even more! Have you ever listened to people who you are responsible for complain? It’s exhausting! Now imagine you are Moses and you are hearing six hundred thousand people complain! They want meat and they want you to provide it! How is he going to provide that?!?
Moses brings his petition before the Lord
“Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15
At first glance, it seems like he is complaining to God about the people he is supposed to lead. But God listened to him (rather than destroy him) and gave him men to help him govern the people. So what’s the difference? Why did God listen to Moses to help him rather than let His anger burn like it did with the people?
Is it that Moses complaint was warranted while the Israelite’s was not? Did they come in a different manner — respectful vs. disrespectful? It could be these, but I think a clue comes from verse 4: the rabble who were among them had greedy desires… Some select people were greedy and they spread their malcontent to the rest of the people. They had God’s provision, but that wasn’t enough for them — they selfishly wanted more. On the other hand, Moses was doing all he could to care for the people. It was overwhelming and burdensome — too much for one person alone. He cried out to the Lord out of sincere frustration.
So we must watch our heart and make sure we come to God rightly.
In the next couple days we will look at the Psalmists for further examples of how to come to God rightly. For further study read James 4:1-10 …you ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions…
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