Keith Green’s article “Grumbling and Complaining–So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” (Part 1)

Keith Green – So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt (live)

Uploaded by on May 25, 2008

Keith Green performing “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt” live at West Coast 1980


This song really shows Keith’s humor, but it really has great message. Keith also had a great newsletter that went out every month and I always enjoyed reading it. Below is a portion of an article he wrote  and I still remember some of the things he said over 30 years ago when I first read it.

Keith Green – So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt

Grumbling and Complaining —So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt?

By Keith Green

  “Now the people became like those who complain about adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” (Num. 11:1-2)

Grumbling and complaining is one thing we don’t get too concerned about these days. I mean everybody grumbles about something, right? Husbands and wives complain about each other. Kids tell each other how terrible their folks are. Christians grumble about one another – even about their leaders!

The nation of Israel had a long history of grumbling and complaining. You can read about the misery it brought them in the first five books of the Old Testament. I have to confess, for a long time I didn’t like those five books because I thought they were full of The Law. God’s wrath could be pretty terrible. Sometimes He sent plagues or fire from heaven. In Numbers 16, you read about the “rebellion of Korah” when the ground opened up and 250 people who complained against Moses and the Lord were swallowed alive. That’s heavy!

Now the New Testament – that seemed easy in comparison! We were given a new law to keep. The law of love and liberty. As a new Christian, I heard nothing but “love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy” which was great because without them I’d be dead as a doornail! Yet I kept running across scriptures in the New Testament that really turned my head around. Jesus also made some strong statements about obeying the laws of God.

In Matthew, Jesus rebuked the people of three cities where He’d taught and performed many miracles. He wasn’t exactly trying to win a popularity contest when He said: “Woe to you… For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes… (And) if the miracles had occurred in Sodom that occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless, I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24) In other words, “If I don’t judge you in light of all you know, I’m going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”

I’m not pointing out these scriptures to say, “You’d better listen or God’s gonna get ya.” That’s not God’s heart. He is “slow to anger, full of lovingkindness and compassion.” (Ps. 145:8) What I am saying is that those who lived under the old covenant may have had a harsher requirement – but they’ll have an easier judgment than we who live under the new covenant. Why is that?

During the old covenant, the Spirit of God only came to rest upon people, empowering them to do mighty deeds. But it never lived in them to help them fulfill the law. Today, under the law of love and liberty, the Holy Spirit lives in us, to help us keep the law. James says, “ ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves… But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein… this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:22,25 KJV)

I want to make this point strongly: Once God has led us out of our old sinful lives by His Spirit, we must be careful not to return.

I found an important warning sign while reading Old Testament books like Numbers. This signal can tell you if you’re headed backwards where you’re no longer led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. No longer walking forward with God. It seems like a little “insignificant” sin. In fact, some people don’t think it’s a sin at all! I’m talking about grumbling and complaining.

Keith Green,
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