This post is written by Andrew Hall, and is published as a companion to Unit 5, Session 1 of The Gospel Project for Adults Vol. 2 (Winter 2021-22): From Captivity to the Wilderness.
Joshua Rothman, the ideas editor at The New Yorker, noticed that grumbling was becoming an omnipresent reality. Taking an inventory of his interactions, Rothman decided to examine his social interactions for a day. He wanted to see what percentage of conversations included grumbling. To his astonishment, his answer was that nearly all of his exchanges with others included grumbling. He grumbled; his friends grumbled; conversations he heard on the street included grumbling. Everywhere in every conversation, Rothman heard grumbling.
Our Tendency to Grumble
Regardless of how good life is, humans find a way to grumble and complain. For Israel, the Lord had delivered them from Egypt, rescuing them from the army of Pharaoh, bringing them safely across the Red Sea, destroyed their enemies, and giving them freedom. What happened next?
God had brought them out into the wilderness so that they could worship the Lord. Now free to worship God, they grumbled. They didn’t have enough water. They were craving food. They blamed their leaders for bringing them out into the wilderness to die, even wishing that they had died in Egypt rather than facing starvation (Exod. 15:22-16:36). Their complaints were not merely about their shortage of food; they were complaining about God’s salvation!
God’s Constant Provision
In spite of all the complaining and accusations, the Lord listened and provided. Four times Moses said that the Lord heard their complaints (Exod. 16:7, 8, 9, 12), and in spite of their growling stomachs and bitter hearts, the Lord provided. “The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” (Exodus 16:11-12).
Not only would God provide, he would do so abundantly: “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you” (Exod. 16:4) and “you will eat bread until you are full” ( Exod. 16:12). While the people remembered how full their stomachs were in Egypt (Exod. 16:3), the Lord said he would fill them until they were satisfied (Exod. 16:18).
From that night on, for forty years, God kept his promise. Every day until Israel crossed into the Promised Land, they had sufficient bread from heaven to strengthen them (see Josh. 5:12).
God, Himself, is Sufficient
God never fails his people. He is sufficient to provide because He is everything we need. The Israelites were tested in the wilderness to trust God but failed. But when God’s Son was driven out into the wilderness, fasting for forty days, tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, He looked back to Moses’ words in the wilderness. He answered, “’It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). In passing the test, without one word of grumbling, Jesus knew that our deepest needs could only be satisfied by Him. When He is our all, we have everything we need.
Jesus is the bread of heaven. He is the bread of life that sustains the weary soul. He is the living water that quenches the soul’s thirst. He is the satisfaction for the heart that is tempted to grumble.
When the temptation comes to complain, Christ offers himself to be the soul’s nourishment. Jesus comes to feed those whose souls hunger for heaven’s satisfaction; “This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn. 6:58).
Feed on Christ. Trust His promises. Receive His grace. He offered Himself for your salvation and joy.
 Joshua Rothman, “A Few Notes on Grumbling,” The New Yorker, January 22, 2015, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/notes-grumbling; last accessed March 31, 2021.
Andrew Hall is the Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, located in Ilderton, Ontario, Canada . He is a graduate from Southern Seminary . He and his wife, Melanie, have four children: Noelle, Ava, Calvin, and Brita.