Keith Green’s article “Grumbling and Complaining–So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” (Part 4)

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

#3 Complaints Of Unbelief

In Numbers 13, we find that the complaints against Moses and Aaron have really heated up. What’s key for us is the way they handled it.

At the Lord’s command Moses chose 12 men to go spy out the land of Canaan. He didn’t send flunkies, but the leaders of the tribes. Joshua and Caleb led them across the Jordan to see if the land was fertile and how hard it would be to conquer. They returned with a cluster of grapes so big it took two men to carry it. They also returned with two different reports. Caleb was full of faith. He said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” (vs. 30)

But the other men who went with Joshua and Caleb “gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report we saying, ‘The land… devours it’s inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.’” They dragged out some old wives’ tale about a tribe of giants called Nephilim and said they were like mere grasshoppers in comparison. They totally lost sight of God and brought back a bad report about the Promised Land.

Well, one thing the Israelites knew how to do by now was complain and they spent all night doing it. By morning everyone was grumbling against Moses and Aaron. They wanted to kill them, and appoint a new leader, and return to Egypt. How stupid. Did they think God would open the Red Sea for them again? Or that the Egyptians would be happy to see them after they had drowned their whole army?

Anyway, the people went to kill Moses and Aaron and just before the stones began to fly “the glory of the Lord appeared... to all the Israelites” (Num. 14:10). God offers to take care of the problem for Moses, saying, “I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.” (vs. 12) God was offering Moses the same covenant He’d made with Abraham! This was Moses’ big chance!

But what did Moses do? He prayed for those complaining, rebellious people! He said, “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, just as Thou also hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” (vs. 19) Moses did just what Jesus commands us to do when He said, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven we..” (Matt. 5:44-45)

Remember Saul? Who do you think was praying for him on the road to Damascus? Saul was the most vicious Christian-killer in the land and the Christians were probably on their knees crying out on his behalf. God made Saul into a new man with a new name. And on the cross, when Jesus had been scourged, spat upon, and deserted by His closest friends, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

There’s a big difference between people who say they’re followers of Jesus and people who follow Jesus. Moses asked God to forgive the people of Israel, and reminded Him of His compassion. In other words, “This won’t be too good for Your glory or fame throughout the world if you kill these people.” Here’s a man unselfishly reasoning with God. Does God need to be reminded about His nature? No. But God needs to be reminded we believe His nature. God didn’t strike the people dead, but Joshua and Caleb were the only ones of that generation He let into the Promised Land.

When you step out into the Wilderness of Faith, it’s a one way ticket. You either die in the wilderness, or you enter the Promised Land. You can’t go back to the world.

Many people think they can, but they’re never the same. They are jaded, cynical, sarcastic. Some turn reprobate. I’m not talking about backsliding, I’m talking about completely turning away from the Lord and denying Him. They spiritually die out in the wilderness.

Let me ask you this: Are you willing to forgive those who hurt you? Or do you complain, gossip, and backbite? Do you ask God to “get them” or do you pray for mercy? Moses’ prayer saved the people of Israel from instant destruction. Our prayers can change the hearts of our enemies. They can even change their eternal destiny.

We can obey God, or act according to our flesh. The greatest plan for victory over our enemies is prayer. Prayer shows our belief in the mercy and power of God. If we reject God’s Word, we reject Him. When we complain about the one who has wronged us instead of praying for him, we end up being the loser. Grumbling and complaining is evidence of our unbelief in God’s sovereignty and His ability to work things out for His glory and our good.

In Closing

Let’s take a “relationship inventory.” Are you holding on to hurts? Bitterness? Are you in competition, or a battle with someone? Are you walking in unbelief? Maybe your flesh has opened the door to an ungrateful spirit. Ask God’s forgiveness for your grumbling and complaining right now. He can soften your heart and give you a spirit like His, willing to do battle in prayer – even for your enemies.

Thank you Lord for giving us Your own Spirit which doesn’t only come upon us, but lives inside of us by Your Word. Lord Jesus, help us to believe in You and in others. Help us give a good report of all men and of all ministries. And Lord we ask forgiveness for grumbling and murmuring and complaining because we know You hate it. It’s the greatest proof of our unbelief. God we want to be believers, not just in word, but also in deed. Spank us quickly if we murmur and complain before it grows into the sin of Israel – and send Your blessing of believing faith upon us. We love You Lord Jesus.

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