There is a danger to complaining against the men and women in leadership who are being led by God. After they have been tested and proven to have been sent from God, complaining is viewed in the same manner that God viewed it in the wilderness with the Children of Israel. It is considered murmuring that is aimed, not so much at the men or women of God, but at God, Himself.
This is not a good thing.
Murmuring or grumbling (as it is interpreted in some Bible translations) is no joke. It is defined as the private expressions of discontent, dissatisfaction and evil insinuations. In certain situations where the person who has been placed in leadership by God with a mandate to give the to the people of God, and those people start to murmur or complain against that person in leadership for that same message or direction, than they are not rebelling, as it were, against that person sent by God. In fact, they are definitely following the same sinful pattern as the people in the wilderness followed by complaining and murmuring directly against God Almighty.
Our text is found in the book of Exodus chapter 16 starting with verses 2-3, then continuing with verses 6-8. And they read (from the King James version) as follows,
(2)’And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:’
(3)’And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’
(6)’And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:’
(7)”And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?”
(8)’And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.’
Moses clearly stated to the Children of Israel that you are not speaking against Aaron or myself, but you are speaking against the One who has just delivered you, supernaturally, out of the hand of one of the greatest armies on earth. You are speaking against the Lord your God. More than that, you are complaining against Him while you set before His cloud of glory.
Moses was, in essence saying: what’s wrong with you? Did you not just see how He handled the superpower nation of the world, Egypt? How He sent horrible plagues and frighting signs and wonders to force Pharaoh to let you go from 400 years of harsh slavery? Then, He turned around and devastated and destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. And this is the One whom you decide to complain against?
When Should Godly Leadership Be Questioned ?
Godly leadership should be questioned and even second-guested when it is found not to be Godly. The church is clearly, directed in the New Testament to prove and try both the doctrine and character of those who claim to speak for God. To not prove them is to possibly be misled, blindly, into error and rebellion against God.
Any pastor, preacher, priest, or prophet worth his salt, should agree that the people of God should be like the Bereans in the New Testament whom the Bible commended as noble for searching the scriptures (which was the Old Testament at that time) to see if what the Apostle Paul was teaching matched with what the Word of God was saying. In fact, we find these verses in Acts 17: 10-12,
(10)’And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.’
(11)’These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.’
(12)’Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.’
Here we have the Berean Jews who were honest and listened intently to the Apostle Paul and Silas give the Gospel message, but did not just take their word for it, as many of us do now-a-days, but they “…searched the scriptures daily,” (v.11) to see if what they were saying was true or not. Once they proved that Paul’s doctrine lined up with scripture, they gladly and readily accepted the gospel and believed. This should be our example.
Once A Leader Has Been Proven, Then When Is Complaining Right?
After the people of God have been assured that the man of God is actually being led by God, then complaining against the plan of God becomes like open rebellion and there is no place for it! To continue to complain and murmur is to interfere with the plan and purposes of God. The Children of Israel had no business being in that wilderness for 40 years. Yet due to their constant complaining and murmuring against Moses, who was a proven man of God, God could not operate His perfect will through them.
God had to take the Children of Israel through 40 years of purging and chastening to get them to the place where they were ready to enter into His rest. And when we complain against God’s will then we prevent ourselves from entering into God’s rest. In fact, Hebrews chapter 4:5-11 teaches us that this rebellious spirit blocks this supernatural rest. It says:
(5)’And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.’
(6)’Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:’
(7)’Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’
(8)’For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.’
(9)’There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.’
(10)’For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.’
(11)’Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.’
People who rebel against the Word of God are people of unbelief, and no unbelievers shall enter into God’s rest, or His peace, or His joy! In fact, no unbelievers shall even enter into God’s Eternal Rest, and that is forever! Let us not tempt God with our constant complaining.
Some hearing this lesson might say: ‘No, these verses are not talking about those in the New Covenant, these verses are for those under the law.’
These verses, first of all, were addressing the Christian Jews in the New Covenant (hence the name “Hebrews”). Secondly, the Apostle Paul had already clarified his meaning in the previous chapter in Hebrews 3: 8-14 when he said,
(8)’Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:’
(9)’When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.’
(10)’Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.’
(11)’So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)’
(12)’Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.’
(13)’But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.’
(14)’For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;’
Here the writer is clearly comparing the rebellion of the children of Israel in the wilderness to those in the church who are “…partakers of Christ…(v.14), but have an wicked heart of unbelief. They started out with confidence in Jesus and what He has done for them, but they could not hold firm to their confidence because of unbelief. And constant complaining suggests serious unbelief.
How Should Believers Handle Times of Hardship In The Church Assembly?
Believers should handle times of hardship in their assemblies with faith and patience. And, if things get too much for them, they need to find another assembly to worship in rather than stay and create a raucous and division among the people of God. However, if there is still love among the brethren and sisters, there must be a unity of purpose and we must each have the humility to let go and let God have His way among the people of God.
Furthermore, we must also understand that just like Jesus had a Judas, their will be some Judas-type of individuals among the assembly of believers who have another agenda. The Bible says that Judas was a devil from the start (John 6:70) and Jesus knew this, but Jesus did not expose him, or mistreat him, Jesus did what He does best and loved even the unlovable Judas. This must be our response, as well.
However, just like we are to prove the preachers and church leaders doctrine, the Bible, also, has something to say about the goats who assemble with God’s sheep or at least those goats who try to teach the people of God. We find this in Romans 16:17 when it says,
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Here, we are taught to avoid these type of people that cause divisions and offend people with teachings that are not in the Word of God. Therefore, love but avoid these people whenever possible.
In conclusion, we must concede that complaining and murmuring, and grumbling is not of God, but it is of the devil. It is not a positive thing for the people of God to engage in, but it is a destructive thing and a very dangerous thing that we just ought not do. The ancient Children of Israel in the wilderness complained about their harsh conditions in order to try to force the hand of Moses so he would, in turn, go to God and force His Hand. Yes, God’s hand was forced alright, his hand was forced to destroy those that murmured against Him right there on the spot in the wilderness. That is why the word for us in the church today, is BE CAREFUL; BE VERY CAREFUL! AMEN