HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1).
There is a very remarkable phrase in the book of Numbers, in the account of the murmuring of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It reads like this: “When the people, as it were, murmured.” Like most marginal readings it is better than the text, and a great world of suggestive truth lies back of that little sentence.
In the distance, we may see many a vivid picture rise before our imagination of people who do not dare to sin openly and unequivocally but manage to do it “as it were” only. They do not lie straight, but they evade or equivocate, or imply enough falsehood to escape a real conviction of conscience.
They are professional liars that complain about others to cover up their lies. They are very good at what they do and may even convince the devil that it is not a lie. My God, how can a child of God be so cruel and wicked to attempt to destroy the life of another person and be comfortable in the church? O, what a tangled web we weave while trying to deceive the very existence of their foundation.
They do not openly accuse God of unkindness or unfaithfulness, but they strike at Him through somebody else. They find fault with circumstances and people and things that God has permitted to come into their lives, and, “As it were,” murmur. They do not perhaps go any farther. They feel like doing it if they dared to “charge God foolishly.”
These things were written for our warning. Well, I took note of it and learned the lesson of Moses when he smote the rock instead of speaking to it. Hallelujah, what a Saviour.