Don’t Talk Back to God

god and his people exodus
Hope for Today (English)
Don’t Talk Back to God
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Exodus 16:1-12

One lesson we ought to learn early in life is that God is in control. That can be a very hard lesson for us to learn. We want to be in control, we feel we can manage our own affairs. So, because we are able to choose, we can make it hard for ourselves when we do not recognize the hand of God in our lives. As a result, we talk back to God when we shouldn’t.

God loves us and desires what is best for us. He may take us through difficult experiences to form us and shape us and make us what He wants us to be. Through these hard things of life, He can bless us far above what He would have otherwise. But we are often inclined in times like that to say, “Wait, LORD, I don’t want to go through this difficulty.” We turn against God. We talk back to God. We are not content to let God control and direct us.

The children of Israel were in distress. They had begun their journey from the land of their bondage to the land of promise. They had many things to learn, especially learning to know their God. We see them learning in Exodus 16:1-12 in the wilderness.

1. And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came into the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

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.

4. Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

5. And it shall come to pass that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

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.

9. And Moses spoke unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings

10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

11. And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,

12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.

From this experience in the life of Israel, we should find DIRECTIVES to face our situations and not talk back to God. I invite you to think through them with me.

The First DIRECTIVE is,

The Complaint of a Distressed People.

They had just begun their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to their forefathers many years before. God had told Abraham He was going to take them out of Egypt and bring them into that land. According to the opening verse in chapter 16 of Exodus, we learn that they had been on the way a mere forty-three days. It was the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. That is not long, but long enough to come to a serious testing time.

They were languishing in their condition. It was a distressing situation. As they reflected upon where they had come from, the lush green valley of the Nile, they said, “We rather had died in Egypt as slaves beside the flesh pots than to be here in the wilderness like this.”

Or they would rather have died in Egypt by the hand of the LORD, which meant they would have preferred to die during the plagues God brought upon the people of Egypt. They’d rather be dead than be with God. They said they would rather fall into destruction than be guided by the discipline of the Almighty.

A few hunger pangs made them forget their groanings and the sorry plight they were in when they were slaves in Egypt because their taskmasters made them work with rigor. God had heard their groanings then and had moved to relieve them. But now, here in the Wilderness of Sin on the way to Mt. Sinai, they forgot about the rigors of their slavery and thought only of the food they had to eat back in Egypt.

Do you know what discontent does in the heart and spirit of a man? Discontent magnifies the past; it vilifies the present and nullifies the future. Discontent will be destructive in your life, when you think about the past, as you live in the present, and as you consider the future. Let me repeat that. Discontent magnifies the past, vilifies the present, and nullifies the future. The complaint of this distressed people was a way in which they talked back to God, and it exposed their thankless hearts.

The Next DIRECTIVE is,

The Care of Divine Providence.

The LORD said I am going to give you flesh, or meat, and I am going to give you bread because I want to see if you are going to obey my laws or not. Look at verse 4. “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.”

To receive from the LORD’s hand means to trust Him. God was kindly disposed toward them. He wanted to take care of their daily needs, and in doing so, He was going to see whether or not they were willing to trust Him and walk before Him in simple faith and trust. It was a demonstration of His day-to-day care.

There were tokens of His love which He promised them. He said they would find in the evening that they would know the LORD had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning, they would have assurance of God’s love and glory. Isn’t that beautiful? The LORD wants to give us all we need. To the people of Israel, He said, at evening, you are going to think about God’s deliverance. Just before we retire at night is a good time to think about God’s precious presence and deliverance. In the morning, as we get up, and we see the glory of the sunrise, it is good for us to remember with assurance God’s love which brings light and life.

God’s care aims to satisfy the complaining heart. God said I am going to tell them and show them. To talk back to God denies His love for us. His love is expressed in His daily reminders evening and morning. But He wants to know, will we walk in His law or not? Will we be faithful in loving obedience to what He wants in our lives? When we talk back to God, we deny His love.

This directive comes to us then to help us not to talk back to God. We are to be mindful of His care and expression of divine providence.

The Final DIRECTIVE is,

The Confirmation of Divine Presence.

Moses invited the congregation to draw near to the LORD. He said, “Come near before the LORD, because He has heard your murmurings.” Let’s get this squared away and understand each other. You come now to the LORD because you have made your murmurings to Him. What are we that your murmurings should be against us? Your murmurings really are against the LORD because we are only His instruments and His servants.

So, Aaron spoke to the congregation of Israel and invited them to come. Then the whole congregation looked toward the wilderness and saw the glory of the LORD as it appeared in the cloud. When they looked toward the wilderness, they were looking toward the way which they feared to go. They had traveled forty-three days into that wilderness, and they had many more days ahead of them. And the glory of the LORD appeared not from where they had come but from where they were going. And they all saw it. They saw the glory of the LORD appearing to them in the cloud toward the wilderness, the direction which God was wanting to take them.

Then the LORD made a beautiful promise. He said, “At evening you shall have flesh, and in the morning, you shall be filled with bread.” Surely then they would realize that the LORD was their God. The promise had to do with meat and bread but much, much more—the presence, the daily divine presence of God. He said, “And ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.”

Has it ever occurred to you that the daily food you eat—the meat and bread you take in your hand to eat—is evidence of the divine presence of God? That’s why it is so serious to talk back to God because in doing so, you offend His grace. So, I urge you, don’t talk back to God.

Thanks, J. Mark, for this teaching from Exodus. The Bible is incredible, and each generation can learn from all that is written in this wonderful book. For example, people everywhere want to be free. In Exodus, the children of Israel were enslaved by the Egyptians. You know the story Moses led them to “freedom.” But were they really free? Why did they want to go back to Egypt? What does it mean to actually be free?

The common answer to that question is doing what I want to do when I want to do it. This is a nice thought, but is this what it means to be free? We have the freedom to make many choices, despite the fact that there are many people who are not living freely. They are not slaves to the government or to other people, but they are slaves.

Thankfully this does not have to be the end of the story. Jesus tells us that if “He sets us free, then we will be free indeed.” This, my friend, is real freedom. Praise Jesus, this freedom knows no boundaries, it does not matter which country you are in, or who you are working for, this freedom is for everyone. 

If you would like today’s program or if you have any questions, here are a few ways you can contact us. One of the best ways is email. Our email is hope@heraldsofhope.org. If you don’t have email, no problem, our mailing address is Hope for Today, Box 3, Breezewood, Pennsylvania 15533. Or you can connect with us on our website. Our website is heraldsofhope.org. While you are there, please click on the listen tab and listen to our other teaching. Again, the website is www.heraldsofhope.org.

This brings us to the end of today’s program, thanks again for being with us. We look forward to being with you next week. I will leave you with the words of Jesus from John 8. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Go and live in that freedom.

*This episode is an exposition of Exodus 16:1-12 by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst.

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