Wrangling And Murmuring, Pt. 1

Philippians 2:14… “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (KJV).

I want to talk a little about “wrangling” with the Lord. The word “wrangling”  means “to dispute angrily or peevishly, to engage in a controversy,” or to “murmur.” People sometimes receive a word which they didn’t expect, so they “wrangle.” A few years ago a fellow minister invited us to his church because a group of preachers were holding presbytery meetings there. My wife and I went, and sitting in the pew in front of us was a couple whom we knew and who were part of that assembly. They were called out, and the preachers prophesied over them. Coming back to their seat, their faces showed that they were not pleased with the word that was given. Later the pastor came to me and said, “What do you think of the word given?” I said to him, “They will leave your church within one week.” He said, “No, they are firmly part of our church.” The pastor asked me to explain further, so I said to him, “Because the word that was given to them was not what they had expected, they will leave.” Within one week, the pastor called and said that the people left his assembly. The couple was frustrated and confused, and so they “wrangled.”

Jeremiah was a prophet to the people of Judah, and he wanted to talk with God. He had prophesied the word of the Lord faithfully, but the people didn’t take kindly to what God had said to them. Jeremiah 9:1-6 tells of the attitude of the people: “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. Take ye heed every one of his neighbor, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD” (KJV).

Jeremiah 12:1-5 tells the story. Note the wrangling… Let me talk with thee of thy judgments” (v. 1). Jeremiah begins to wrangle, to flatter, to grapple, to chide, and to complain. “Lord, the word you gave me was not what Judah wanted to hear.” Jeremiah didn’t like the decision God made (in this case, the prosperity of the wicked). “Lord, you are not doing it right. You are not saying it right.” The wicked are planted and rooted, and prospering. They talk of God with their mouth, but will not let God direct their hearts. Jeremiah then talks about himself in verses 3-11: “Lord, you know me, don’t you Lord? I have been prophesying your word; where is my planting?” Jeremiah acknowledged the righteousness of God’s dealing, but he could not reconcile it with what he saw and heard. When God answered Jeremiah, He gave the reason people hear the word and then walk away–what they heard was not what they wanted to hear.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

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