Today’s reading: Exodus 25-27, Psalm 90, Philippians 1
As we’ve been reading the story of the Exodus (Moses leading the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt), have you noticed God’s people grumbling a lot? I joke with my husband and friends that one of my core competencies is complaining (especially about the weather in central Illinois). But even I, a master complainer, am shocked at how often the Bible tells us God’s people were whining to Moses.
The Israelites had been oppressed in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). They were eyewitnesses to 10 plagues God brought on to convince Pharoah to let them go. Then, at the beginning of Exodus 14, God miraculously parted the Red Sea so they could cross over and get out of Egypt. God’s people had barely gotten to the other side of the sea when they looked in their rearview mirror and saw Pharoah’s army coming after them. Immediately they started whining. “They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have take us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done brining us out of Egypt (Exodus 14:11).” Seriously? After all the miracles God performed to deliver them from 430 years of oppression they had the guts to grumble? But it didn’t stop there. Soon they complained about not having water, so God provided water. Then they grumbled about not having food and God provided manna. Then, when they were tired of the manna and wanted some meat, they grumbled again and God provided quail. Do you wonder why these people wandered in the desert for so long? God was sick of it. He let them wander around for 40 years until the entire generation of complainers died. Only then was he was ready to usher them into the Promised Land.
Psalm 90, our scripture for today, was written by Moses. It was his prayer asking God to help the Israelites learn a lesson he had learned during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness with them, experiencing defeat, discouragement, and death. The Psalm begins with recognition of God’s sovereignty. Then acknowledges the aimless, self-absorbed, sinful ways of God’s people. Moses’ ask of God comes in verse 12 – to teach his people to live purposefully with eternity in mind.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
Here I pause and look at my own life. Like the Israelites, I have a tendency to grumble and be so focused on myself that I forget about God. What a timely reminder that my days on earth are not unlimited. Whether I die or Jesus returns first, I will stand before the God of the universe and account for how I lived my life. You will too. Today, will you join me in praying Moses’ prayer for God to teach us to live on purpose with eternity in mind?
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).