After 2.5 hours sleep I woke, got dressed, finished packing, and headed to the airport with my daughter. Actually with my entire family because when asked if they wanted to wake up at an unearthly hour to take their sister to the airport before she moved away they didn’t even let me finish the question. Unanimous yeses.
Today’s thoughts were of the Jews who wandered in the wilderness surrounded by a cloud while I flew in an airplane above the clouds.
I thought about them because I was grumbling. I was grumbling a lot. Even though my daughter and I were on different planes going to different cities we were texting each other before take off with the horrible experiences we each had as we tried to board the plane. Information I had been told and relied on was different and not only was I inconvenienced but I was left to have a real struggle with my things during the almost 3 hour layover I’m on. I’m grateful to those who came to my aid. My daughter was treated rudely by someone whose job it was to assist her. Keep in mind she’s flying alone as a minor! Thankfully she is experienced enough a flyer that she was able to navigate the situation but most 17yo’s wouldn’t have been able to do so.
That led to me thinking about how many sermons I’ve heard about not grumbling and they’re talking about that kind of grumbling and somehow people got it into their heads that it’s not godly to complain when something goes wrong. If the Jews grumbling in the wilderness are the foundation for that argument then you need to rethink your doctrine.
It’s quite likely the Jews grumbled a whole lot during that time. Considering how many of them and how long they wandered it’s sort of a given. And we’re not told a whole lot about the day to day grumbling. The grumbling we hear about is specific and when I understood what they were really grumbling about I was shocked at how the effort to sanitize the story for our delicate sensibilities ended up leading to us being taught garbage doctrine about always needing to be happy!
The big one that always comes to mind is the time that the Jews stood in the doorway of their sukkahs and grumbled about all of the food that they were able to freely eat back in Egypt and how they were only allowed to eat manna and quail in the wilderness. I know how cranky I get when I have to eat the same thing for too many meals in a row, but the reaction seems incredibly over the top!
See in Exodus there is a story about the Jews grumbling about not having meat to eat and in that story, in response to that grumbling, God gave the Jewish people quail to eat.
Turns out the Rabbi’s understand the story about the high cost of the food to be speaking of a very specific issue and while it’s represented with food that isn’t what they were grumbling about. The story very specifically says they stood at the entrance to their tents which is understood to indicate something about the home life. Nothing was free back in Egypt – both because everything had to be paid for and because the cost of everything for the Jews by birth was living every day in slavery. So what was “free?”
What was free was the relationships that they were allowed to engage in. There were no restrictions under Egyptian law about who you could sleep with. No family relationship seems to have been off limits. Under Torah, however, there were all sorts of restrictions. You couldn’t have sex with your child or your parent. Not even with the person who married your parent or their child who grew up in the house with you as a sibling. No temple prostitutes. No sleeping with someone else’s wife – even if they were down with it! The “cost” of sexual purity was indeed high.
We find the story in Number 11
4 The riffraff among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites wept again and said, “Who will feed us meat? 5 We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna! ”
7 The manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of bdellium. 8 The people walked around and gathered it. They ground it on a pair of grinding stones or crushed it in a mortar, then boiled it in a cooking pot and shaped it into cakes. It tasted like a pastry cooked with the finest oil. 9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
10 Moses heard the people, family after family, weeping at the entrance of their tents. The LORD was very angry; Moses was also provoked. 11 So Moses asked the LORD, “Why have you brought such trouble on your servant? Why are you angry with me, and why do you burden me with all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so you should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nanny carries a baby,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? 13 Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are weeping to me, ‘Give us meat to eat! ’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. 15 If you are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now if I have found favor with you, and don’t let me see my misery anymore.”
Iresponse God established the Court.
The 70 elders were chosen who would rule over Israel and make decisions in matters of the Torah and life. Why? Because when people start complaining that they can’t have sex with whoever they want they are making it very clear that no one is safe and the purpose of the courts is to protect the innocent and hold the guilty accountable.
God looks after the widow and the orphan and the stranger because they are the most vulnerable. They are the most at risk for being taken advantage of and the least likely to be able to seek justice without help. God knows this and God put a plan in place when it was needed. God made it a violation of God’s Law to take advantage of the vulnerable and then God established a court system that would hold those accountable who did anyway.
God is so good!
I don’t know if anything will come from my grumbling today. I tweeted and Facebook messaged the airline before we took off and I got a response as we were taking to the skies and I was able to respond when I reached my layover location. Thankfully everything worked out for my daughter on her flight. All went well and the things we were concerned about weren’t a problem. So far I’m doing okay thanks to the kindness of people I have no doubt were brought into my circle by God. When I find myself most vulnerable I have faith that God will be my protector and my provider.
So my question today is, since we all grumble, what are you grumbling about? If you’re grumbling because you have been taken advantage of when vulnerable, or if you’re grumbling because of a legit need, you arne’t doing anything wrong. If, however, you are grumbling because you arne’t being allowed to take advantage of everyone you want the freedom to take advantage of, God has made it clear you are on the opposing team and godly judges will hold you accountable. Maybe not today, but it will happen. The meek will inherent the earth.
Now I need to get this posted so I can try to rest a bit before it’s time to carry my things onto another plane for an even longer fight.
Have a blessed day!