Deuteronomy 32:15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.”

How insidious are the temptations that can worm their way into the believer’s life to hinder him or her spiritually.  One of those temptations is to complain in the face of suffering.  A good definition that I’ve heard for suffering is this:  wanting what we don’t have or having what we don’t want.  One example is in the lives of single adults.  Many of them are dissatisfied as singles and long for a spouse.  They want something they don’t have, and grumble and pine away because of that.  And then that wonderful person comes along, but after a few years they find out that their “prize package” is not all they thought he or she would be, and now they have something that they no longer want, pining away in an unhappy marriage. Of course, neither of these attitudes is a godly one, but it afflicts many people, nevertheless.

But then there is perhaps an even more insidious temptation that can creep into a believer’s life.  It’s the temptation to which the nation of Israel fell in the Old Testament that is described in the verse above.  You see, another name for Israel in the Old Testament is “Jeshurun.”  In the Hebrew language it means “upright one.”  It comes from a root word that means “to be right, pleasant, or prosperous.”  It’s a description of this nation that was chosen from among all nations to be uniquely blessed by God.  God worked in miraculous ways throughout their history. He blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of the race, with the eternal promise that through them all the people of the earth would one day be blessed, for it was through them that God would bring the world the Messiah. He miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness despite their constant murmurings and unbelief.  He settled them in Canaan, “the land flowing with milk and honey.”  He met their every need.  Romans 9:4-5 recounts these blessings in this way: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

Yet, from early in their history, despite all these things, we are told that they had two tendencies. One was to constantly complain about their sufferings. They wanted meat instead of manna. They wanted to actually turn back to slavery in Egypt so they could eat the things (like cucumbers and garlic, of all things) that they didn’t now have in the desert.  They wanted an earthly king so they could be like all the other nations around them (although many of those nations were their enemies).  But then, when God did bless them with physical blessings, they “grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; (they) forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” 

What a lesson this holds for us, especially in this blessed land of America.  God has indeed blessed this nation. We are the wealthiest nation on the face of the earth.  Our poorest people have more than 90% of those who live anywhere else in the world. Yet we are a nation of complainers. Listen to the discontent. It’s all around us.  Watch the advertisements on TV which tempt us to long for more than we already have, playing on this attitude of discontentment. But on the other hand, like ancient Israel, how many of us, when we do enjoy the many material blessings in this life, are tempted to take our eyes off the very One who gave us those blessings in the first place? How often are we too busy with our hobbies, our homes, our families, or our vacations, that we somehow can’t find time for the God “Who gives you the ability to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18)? How many of us are like the fool that Jesus teaches about in the parable of Luke 12 who was all about building bigger and bigger barns to store all of his wealth with a false sense of security that all was well because he had so much money, but then met an early death to just leave all his wealth for another person?  Jesus rebukes this attitude with these words “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” 

So, do these things describe you?  In the face of all that God has given you, do you complain because of what you don’t have? Or are you one who is so enthralled with all your possessions that you have little time for the One from Whom every good gift comes?  Of course, neither attitude is what God would have for us. Both of these attitudes are nothing more than a form of idolatry, with a focus on the things of this world rather than the Creator of all things.

May God help us to not succumb to such temptations, but rather obey the words of the Scriptures given to us by the apostle Paul (as he languished in prison, mind you): “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).  It is these things, all things that speak of Christ and His Word, that are to be the focus of the believer, as opposed to the physical things that we either don’t have or do have, for it is those things that are the focus of a world void of a relationship with our wonderful God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: