On the festival of Shavuot we read the Ten Commandments. I would like to suggest in this week’s Torah portion we find the Eleventh commandment- Thou Shall Not Complain! In the book of Numbers and chapter 11 the children of Israel began to complain before the L-rd. G-d heard their complaints and the text says that it was evil to Him and His anger flared up and He sent fire from heaven and the edge of the camp was consumed. Complaining never contributes something positive to a situation. It simply makes a bad situation worse. Complaining is never the result of the Holy Spirit, but is always rooted in the flesh of man.
In this chapter the people complained because they were tired of the Manna which
G-d provided and they wanted meat. The people remembered all the tasty food they ate while in Egypt and wanted it now in the wilderness. Most commentators understand that the food they longed for was really a desire for their previous life back in Egypt. Simply stated, they longed for the sinful lifestyle they had in Egypt. Do you ever long for the sins that you committed prior to coming to faith? Do you sometimes feel that it was easier just to live in the world and not give any thought to the will and expectations of G-d? If so, then this is a sign that you are not experiencing G-d.
Walking with the L-rd is never boring nor is it overshadowed by sin. Walking with Messiah brings joy even in the face of persecution. When you and I long for sin, it is because we want something to fill the void in our life. The void is caused by neglecting G-d and His will. It is very easy for believers to slip away from experiencing G-d. It is important that this event in Numbers 11 took place immediately after the people departed from Mt. Sinai. There they had a mountain top experience with the living G-d. Now they were expected to experience Him in a day to day manner as they began walking with Him. They failed right away.
The same is true for you and me. G-d is wonderful in those rare mountain top experiences, but true spirituality is when we can experience joy and contentment from Him on a daily basis as we carry out the mundane things of life. Just like any other relationship, it takes work! Walking with G-d and experiencing Him is dependent upon one serving Him. Once a believer moves away from His word and commandments he is really moving away from G-d. A void is created and soon, very soon this person will begin to try to fill this emptiness with sin. When one moves away from the spiritual he will begin to long more and more for the carnal things of life.
Satan is very deceptive. Many of these carnal things are not evil in and of themselves. The problem is that one begins to place upon them a significance beyond that which is appropriate. One begins to often distort their use and soon they become an area which begins to consume their thoughts and attention. In other words Satan begins to use the fleshly desires to control our thoughts and behavior.
Why does G-d respond to the children of Israel’s cry for meat in such a harsh manner?
“G-d’s wrath flared and fire of the L-rd burned against them and consumed (the people) at the edge of the camp.” Numbers 11:1
In order to show that sin has a very destructive influence in our life. Remember, complaining is never motivated by G-d. It is rooted in the cravings of the flesh. It will injure not just the one who complains or the one who hears, but it will affect the whole camp. Guard your tongues, for they can bring much suffering to those around you—G-d is listening to your speech!
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