Monday, February 18, 2008

The Rabble

Hold the phone! I was reading in Numbers 11 this morning when this verse (or verses) stuck out like a sore thumb:

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" (emphasis mine)

Who in the world are the rabble I asked myself? This word rabble (in the NIV) is only mentioned twice in the bible and I had never heard it before. Where have I been?

Websters defines rabble as the following:
2 a
: a disorganized or disorderly crowd of people

"The source of discontent is identified as "the rabble" (v. 4), referring to the foreigners who had come out of Egypt with the Israelites (Ex 12:38). Since they were not Hebrews, they had no personal attachment to God and His promises. They were tired of manna and remembered only the food which was formerly available to them in Egypt, forgetting all the reasons for fleeing. They were held in low esteem by the Israelites, but God's people allowed themselves to be influenced by their grumbling." (taken from my Key Word Study Bible)

One of my commentaries referred to the rabble as the "mixed company" that left Egypt with the Hebrew people.

I have written on the subject of forgetfulness in regards to sins slavery in the past, but I can't help but go there again when I read this passage.
First I want to share a couple of points that stood out to me:

1. We are influenced by the people around us and this world system more than we realize. The "haves" of this world greatly entice our cravings. When we decide to get our advice and satisfaction from "mixed company" we set ourselves up for discontentment and sins slavery. When I say mixed company I mean being unequally yoked and seeking advice and contentment from the ideals of the secular world around us. How many times have you seen an ad for something that you didn't know that you needed and it incited a want in you and you had to have that thing and then your affections for whatever it was that you now needed influenced your feet? In other words you had to have what someone else said you needed to be happy and you did what it took to try to achieve that momentary high. But the problem is the temporary fix that it gave you was only temporary.

2. We become like the people we hang with. Perfect example...the Hebrews were mixed in with the rabbles and the rabbles started complaining and grumbling and so did God's chosen people. Just like joy, and passion for the Lord is is a critical complaining spirit. Grumbling and complaining is sin and yet we do it so often because we feel so justified in it. It only breeds more discontentment and negativity. What happens when we begin to grumble and complain is that we focus more on our problem than who God is. We focus on what we don't have instead of what we have been blessed with. I had someone in my life who continually spoke doubt and discouragement into my life in the area of trusting God for His provision and on two separate occasions I had to tell this person that I was not going to get on their worry train and I was going to trust God. Just like how sin permeates like yeast in a batch of dough, so does grumbling and complaining. It can breed so many consequences causing bitterness to spring up. So pull that weed out before it takes over the whole garden.
(I had a day today where I found myself griping and complaining about everything and it just made me feel miserable...not to mention probably Rod and little Morgan as well.)

Also, you see in this passage the tendency that we all have. I have been through a lot of tough things in my life. I can remember one really hard season (I am about to get generic so you can relate with your own stuff) where I had to let something go. I really thought that letting go was going to be the death of me. In some ways this thing that I had to move on from functioned as an idol for me. I began to try to find my worth in the way the whole thing panned out. The thing tore me down and I was in a constant struggle in my mind, my emotions, and I began to feel extremely low in the self-esteem department...mixed with a whole lot of anxiety over certain situations. The bottom line...I was in my own land of slavery. When I began to cooperate with God and allow Him to perform heart surgery and pry my hands off of this idol...I began to see such liberation and freedom in my life. Don't get me wrong it was mixed with pain. Later on, after I had been a couple of years removed from the whole situation I began to "forget" how enslaving the whole thing was. I even began to think oh maybe "that" would have been better when some of my situations in life went awry. I even felt at times like the path to obedience was just too hard and man so many people had it so much easier than me...what a lie. The Lord has allowed me to be marked forever with certain reminders to hopefully keep me from ever wanting to go back down to the land that He delivered me from. I would rather die than be the fool returning to my folly because His ways are best and so often I have learned that the hard way (and when I say the HARD WAY I mean every word of it...I have been on one field trip of stupidity after another but the lessons I think are now starting to stick...God is for us...always).

You know the story of the back breaking slavery, the loss of the baby boys, and that the Hebrews were in bondage. The Lord leads them out after many plagues and they had the Lord literally leading them with a cloud by day and fire by night. He was their reward, and He was their provision in the wilderness. If they needed to know where to go they just followed the cloud or the fire. The fire protected them from the deadly pestilence and met their physical needs. And I am sure the cloud provided them relief from the scorching heat. But guess what? They got mixed in with the rabbles and that was not good enough. They were now sick of the manna in other words sick of Gods kind of provision for them. They forgot their slavery and only remembered the food they had there and longed to go back. So you can read on in Numbers 11. God gave them their request. They would have so much quail it would be coming out of their ears.

Again so I don't make this too wise about the company you keep. If you are in a place where you feel like life hasn't turned out like you thought...then tell Him. Ask Him for a thankful heart and more of the Spirit running over in your life. He is good and you do not have because you do not ask. Also, when the tests in life come seek to learn from them. Some of the hardest times in my life have been the best times because I literally was forced to depend on the Lord and see Him work in miraculous ways. I was not allowed to depend on my own strength or provision. Also, don't give up. No matter what you have matter what has been dealt to you...keep fighting the good fight. Lets not forget where He has delivered us from and brought us to. Lets not forget what He has done for us and lets not neglect His word. That is the way in which He leads us today. He is the word made flesh. Thank you for your sweet word Lord. Don't let me be handed over to my own selfish desires. Let me live trusting and abiding in the shelter of the Most High. When I do complain help me to resist running to others but let me run to You and pour out my complaint to the One who is Safe. Give me more of Your Spirit. I am so desperate for You.

Psalm 106:13-15
13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel.

14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wasteland they put God to the test.

15 So he gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease upon them.


He Knows My Name said...

thus the term "rabble rouser" my dad use to use that phrase. stop being a rabble rouser, or so and so is just a rabble rouser. i didn't know rabble was in the bible. :) ~janel

Amy said...

This is awesome! This completely changes the context of the story. Not to say they wouldn't have started grumbling on their own, but it is a good reminder to trust God's word when other people point out "bad things" in our lives. They say, "where is your God now? If He really loved you he would give you prosperity and good health!" Such lies of the enemy! Such an awesome reminder! Thanks Jenny!