You grumbled in your tents
Deuteronomy 1: 27

Reading: Numbers 16: 41-47; 1 Peter 5: 8

Have you picked up the common thread that exists between the four sin strongholds that the Israelites fell foul of – and that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 10?  

In every instance where the Israelites sinned against God they chose to follow their feelings, their senses – what they could see, hear, taste and figure out for themselves – rather than God’s commands. There’s nothing new under the sun. This is exactly what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden that got them thrown out! It is always wrong to put human judgment above God’s Word. And it is always going to lead to a loss of dominion and an open invitation to Satan to come and do his worst in your situation. 

The fourth sin that Paul warns Christians about, falls into exactly the same category as the previous three – idolatry, sexual immorality and testing God. The sin of complaining or grumbling also has its roots in basing your mood and opinion on the circumstances you see around you, instead of the eternal Word of God. 

Murmuring is such a common problem in the Bible. However, nothing beats the murmuring of the Israelites. Murmuring was a literal way of life for them. In I Corinthians 10:11, we read that their story is recorded for us so we can learn from them. So, let’s see what we can learn from their constant carping and complaining.

When Paul speaks of grumbling, he does not mean the kind of grumbling where you go to a leader with a legitimate query or complaint, or where you send your food back at a restaurant because you didn’t order fish, you ordered steak. No, the kind of grumbling that was going on in the tents of the Israelites is what we would call today ‘white-anting’. 

White-anting is a term the ever-inventive Australians coined to describe the destruction that comes to a group when people subvert or undermine from within. It has the same effect as when termites destroy the foundation of a building – the damage is happening insidiously, invisibly, and then suddenly, the building collapses. 

This is what was happening in the camps of the righteous of the Lord. People were grumbling, expressing their feelings and disappointment in a bitter, derogatory way that undermined the authority of the leaders. 

Ouch! I have a feeling that I’ve touched a raw nerve here. Let’s meet again tomorrow and further unpack the relevance of this for our lives today. 


Oh Lord, I am guilty of this. Forgive me for every situation and every time I have white-anted, and caused harm in a context. I repent. 

For the family

Discuss this study in an age-appropriate way. What’s so bad about grumbling?