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Exodus 16: 1-12

Grappling with Grumbling

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • August 27, 2017

It doesn’t take long to learn how to grumble or complain. Even at an early age it is possible to master the art of grumbling. In your life, is grumbling something you grapple with? If so, we are going to look at the nature of this wrestling match and discover how to grapple and win.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Grappling with Grumbling

Exodus 16:1-12


ILLUS – A Frivolous Lawsuit

1. It doesn’t take long to learn how to grumble or complain.

2. Even at an early age it is possible to master the art of grumbling.

3. In your life, is grumbling something you grapple with?

4. If so, we are going to look at the nature of this wrestling match and discover how to grapple and win.

READ Exodus 16:1-12


1. God led Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand and manifested His glorious presence in a visible way; a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire
by night (Exodus 13:21-22).

2. After God defeated Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, we’re told in Exodus 15:1-21, that Moses led Israel in a victory song, praising the Lord for His defeat
of the Egyptians and future victory of Israel over their enemies in the Promised Land.

3. But their victory song was quickly replaced three days later by a song of grumbling at Marah because the water undrinkable.

4. God graciously sweetened the water so that they could drink and then took Israel to Elim where they found 12 springs of water and 70 date palms.

5. Through these obstacles God was teaching Israel some valuable lessons about walking by faith:

a. The Lord their God would meet their needs.

b. The Lord their God knew where He was going.

6. There God promised that if Israel Listened, Believed, and Obeyed His commands He would bless

7. How long did they Listen, Believe, and Obey? About a month!

I. Grumbling is a Lifestyle (1-3)

A. Grumbling has a predictable pattern

1. Israel had been free from slavery for 45 days.

2. But Israel was still in a very real bondage and the wilderness revealed the nature of their bondage.

3. Problem 1: Travelers usually brought 30 days worth of supplies.

a. They had food (plenty of animals)

b. But some supplies were running low

4. Problem 2: Israel was in a wilderness; a hot, rugged, desolate place with little or no access to food.

5. What did Israel do? They sang a song they learned in Egypt – “Nobody likes me…”

a. Grumbled is a unique word for Rebellion.

b. It was literally a “vote of no confidence”.

ILLUS – A Complaining Monk

APPL – Have you ever met someone like this? They grumble, they complain, it’s always something. Their words reveal their what’s in their heart. 

Matthew 15:18, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

APPL – When do people whine/grumble? Grumbling results from…

  • Pain: for Israel – “We are starving to death!”


  • Problem: for Israel – “Where are we going to find food?”

Question: Did God ever promise a pain free/problem free life? 

John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

B. Grumbling will spread like wildfire

1. Left unchecked, it will progressively get worse:

a. Exodus 15, Israel complained against Moses.

b. Exodus 16, They complained against Aaron too.

c. Exodus 16, Israel:

i. Accused Moses and Aaron of premeditated murder saying it would have been better to have been killed by God in Egypt than to hunger in the wilderness.

ii. Revised history by saying in Egypt they sat (place of rest) by pots of meat (place of abundance) and ate bread to the full (place of satisfaction).
They were calling the land of their bondage, Egypt, the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey”!

APPL – A sure sign that grumbling has gotten the upper hand is when we have a “selective memory” which focuses on the bad and forgets the good… even blessings can become a target for our complaints!!!

  • I hate my job… the one I asked God for!
  • My spouse never meets my needs… the one God gave to me!

2. Grumbling is contagious

Numbers 11:4-6, “And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will
give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the
garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.’”

a. Left unchecked it will infect others.

b. Grumbling can even lead to mutiny!

APPL – Why do people grumble?

  • Fear – “I need to be in control!” (Israel had been fending for themselves for 400 years in Egypt and found it difficult to submit to God’s leadership)
  • Paradigm – “Victim Mentality” because “It’s all about me”

3. Bottom-line: Grumbling is against God, a vote of no confidence, a questioning of His character and ability to rescue meet His people’s
needs (vv. 6-8)

ILLUS – What Satan started in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:4-5), he’s been using ever since; tempting us to doubt God’s character, motives,
and ability.

Transition: But if we buy into Satan’s lie, we won’t recognize the solution to our struggle with grumbling…

II. Jesus is Our Escape Route (4-12) 

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”

A. Jesus is our bread from heaven

1. God took the initiative to graciously provide quail and bread from heaven before Moses even asked!

2. God was using the wilderness as a place of Instruction.

a. God was instructing Israel about faith

b. God was instructing Israel about a covenant relationship with Him; that He would faithfully deliver, protect, lead, and provide for them.

APPL – When facing trials, it is tempting to grumble. But grumbling will blind us to a manifestation of God’s self-revelation. God wants us to trust in Jesus Christ, our bread from heaven to meet our every need.

  • Manna saved Israel from death due to starvation. Christ saves us from spiritual death, an eternity in hell. 

John 6:48-51a, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down
out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live

Manna was available/accessible for all. Christ’s offer of salvation is available to all who will believe.

Romans 10:8-9, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ – that is, the word of faith which we are
preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” 

  • Manna satisfied Israel’s hunger for 40 years. Christ satisfies our deepest hunger for all eternity.

John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’”

ILLUS – Adam’s reflections of his trip to the Philippines 

B. Feed on Christ daily

1. To satisfy their hunger Israel had to eat.

2. Faith was required for feeding on the manna.

a. Early in the morning – first thing to benefit them the rest of the day

b. Daily – continual dependence upon God

c. Humbly – stoop down to receive blessing

APPL – If you wish to defeat grumbling, please realize that the gathering of manna pictures the keys to a healthy devotional life.

  • Rise early and benefit daily from the Lord’s presence and provision of strength.

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

  • Daily rely upon the Lord for strength, guidance, wisdom, grace

John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do

  • Humble yourself and be filled

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your
anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 

APPL – If you are filled with the Lord’s Spirit there isn’t room for grumbling. If you are filled with thanksgiving then words of faith will fall from your lips in the midst of trials. If you are content and anchored in the Lord, you will not be moved by the trials that come your way. You will even become a source of encouragement to others!


Has grumbling gotten the best of you?

Christ is the escape route. He is God’s provision, our bread from heaven.

Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” 

Exodus 16:1-12    NASB

1 Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the
fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against
Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we
sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day,
that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.
5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons
of Israel, “At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the
Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 Moses said, “This will happen when the
Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him.
And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.” 9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons
of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.'”
10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the
Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying,
‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'”


It doesn’t take long to learn how to grumble or complain. Even at an early age it is possible to master the art of grumbling. In your life, is grumbling something you grapple with? If so, we are going to look at the nature of this wrestling match and discover how to grapple and win.

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