Exodus 15:22-26 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. (23)  And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. (24)  And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (25)  And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, (26) And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Exodus 16:1-18b And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto 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 spake 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 spake 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 spake 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. (13) And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. (14) And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. (15) And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. (16) This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. (17) And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. (18b) And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.

It was not long after Israel’s momentous crossing of the Red Sea—a miracle and a deliverance unparalleled in history—that Israel’s praises were turned to complaints as they encountered the many hardships involved in a journey through the desert. Leaving the Sea behind them, the Israelites walked for three days in the Desert of Shur and found no water. As throats began to get irritated and dry, tempers began to flare. Finally, after three days, the Israelites found water at a place called Marah. But the water was unfit to drink. So the Israelites did what many of us today would have done. They complained! “Moses, we can’t make this journey if we don’t have water to drink! Get us some water!”

Well, the Lord took care of that problem by performing another miracle for them. Ah! How good that first drink must have been! Having seen so many miracles in recent days—both in Egypt and in the desert—you would think the Israelites were convinced of God’s presence, protection, and provision. He would take care of them! And because He would, then there’s no need for us to fear or complain. Come what may, God will take care of us!

But the memory of past miracles and the joy of previous answers to prayer are short lived when you’ve got a trial on your hands. Leaving Marah, the Israelites resumed their journey and entered the Desert of Sin. Now scholars tell us that this piece of real estate is truly desert territory. It’s a sandy tract of land that stretches out for mile and miles, with little vegetation and water. Imagine three million people in this desert—hot and dry, the sun beating down mercilessly upon them, with dwindling supplies of food and water, and you’ll guess what the people did. They complained. It seemed as if the trials were getting worse. Hunger was setting in. And with no supply of food in sight, it just didn’t seem like the journey was worth all the troubles they were facing. The promised land just wasn’t worth all the pain they were going through to get there. Clearly, the Israelites didn’t like the way things were going. And complaining became their ready response to their trials.


Of the many sins committed by the Israelites in the desert, the sin of murmuring ranks near the top. In the end, their murmurings literally killed them. God destroyed them in the desert. Though they walked many miles and walked many years towards the land of plenty and promise, the great majority of them never made it.

  • Psalms 106:24-27, Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: {25} But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord. {26} Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: {27} To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:10, Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

In their frustrations and complaints, they wished death upon themselves, Exodus 16:3. And that’s exactly what they got!  BRETHREN, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT! TO YOUR ETERNAL SORROW AND REGRET.

Brethren, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MURMURERS LIE BURIED BENEATH THE DESERT SANDS BECAUSE OF THEIR LIP. They did what many of us today still do when we’re confronted with trials and when things aren’t going our way. We complain. Brethren, do we want to join these bellyachers beneath the desert sands? Or will we learn from Israel’s mistakes? We who are so easily prone to murmurings stand in dire need of keeping our tongues from complaining. Friends, we’ve conducted too many desert funerals! There are way too many cemeteries in the desert. LET’S GET A GRIP ON OUR LIP! OUR VERY SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT!

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2, I’ll look at the various reasons why we complain. It’ll be a good look in the mirror of God’s Word, so stay tuned.

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