Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?
–Romans 9:20

When the Israelites came to the Red Sea and had the impossible choice of drowning or dying, they came up with another option: complaining to their leader. Look at their words to Moses, dripping with sarcasm:

They said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:11-12)

Can’t you hear the whining and the “I told you so” in this statement? “Moses, we told you that if you tried to lead us out of Egypt, we would face this impossible situation.”

The Israelites had been praying for 430 years that God would deliver them out of slavery in Egypt. Then God delivered them miraculously through the 10 plagues. Yet instead of thanking God for what He did or trusting God to perform another miracle, they began to complain about their situation.

Woe to the person who turns to God in complaint! Nothing ticks God off more than ingratitude. All complaining is directed against God and His sovereign will for our lives. To grumble against God is a sin. As Romans 9:20 points out, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?”

Perhaps the Apostle Paul had in mind the biblical example of the complaining Israelites when he penned this command to the church: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

God absolutely hates complaining, but that is what the Israelites did. Instead of trusting that the God who had delivered them from Egypt would direct them on their journey to the Promised Land, they chose to respond by complaining about what had happened to them. How will we choose to respond when confronted by our own seemingly impossible situations? May we heed the words of the Apostle Paul and “do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Seizing Your Red Sea Moment” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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