What the Bible says about Discontent
(From Forerunner Commentary)
A number of quite serious sins are exposed in this particular issue, perhaps the most serious being their lack of faith in God's providence. This sin is driven by an arrogant self-concern that forgets that God is working out a purpose and plan in us and overseeing everything in our lives. He bought and paid for us with Christ's sacrifice, and we vowed to submit to His authority when we gave Him our lives. What He provides to those of faith within that purpose is more than fair. In fact, it is usually quite generous.
He promises to supply the faithful with their every need, but in Israel's fearful and fickle discontentment, they did not seek Him to understand what He was doing. Instead, they sought something different from what He was providing in terms of experiences within the relationship. This drive for fulfillment in variety remains within the Israelitish people.
Though the emphasis under the New Covenant has shifted to the spiritual, God shows us in numerous ways that His desire is for His children to be unified in one system—His. The manna provided under the Old Covenant represents God's desire that we are to be strengthened in His way only through His Word.
Uniformity with His way is illustrated in several ways in the Old Testament. For example, the priests could use coals only from one particular fire for the incense offering. They had to be uniform in the clothing they wore when officiating at the one altar God permitted in only one place in Israel. In addition, Israel was allowed only one festival site, Jerusalem.
Consider how God concludes His instructions in Deuteronomy 12, which limited Israel's sacrifices to Him to one location:
When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, "How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise." You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (verses 29-32)
This instruction is specifically aimed to stifle Israel's proclivity to look into foreign religions. The lesson is "curiosity killed the cat"! Deuteronomy 23:6 adds concerning the heathen, "You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever." In Ezra 9:12, where this also appears, God tells them to keep themselves so separated that they were never to make any kind of alliance with neighboring peoples!
As the Bible shows, Israel did not heed God's counsel. In stubbornness, she sought fulfillment in variety and became a great whore.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Six): The Woman's Character
First, note that these people, spiritually, were so far from God that they did not take the first warning, the burning that took place on the outskirts of the camp (Numbers 11:1). It was just a little thing from God to say, "Hey, wait a minute. You need Me. I am giving you the manna, and if it was not for that, you would die. Not only that, I was the One who gave you freedom." But how quickly they were forgetting.
What is the lesson here? They wanted variety; they felt they were leading a monotonous life. The Bible records no particular occasion for the beginning of their complaint except that they were bored with what they had to eat. Their words express dissatisfaction with privations incurred on their journey through the wilderness.
We are to learn from that. It is the Old Testament's form of whether or not we are willing to bear our cross—whatever comes upon us as a result of our repentance, our baptism, our receipt of God's Spirit, our entering into the covenant with Jesus Christ, and being His slave! Are we really willing to be His slaves and take what He dishes out?
What they wanted was food that had a sharper, more distinctive flavor, something more stimulating than manna, which tasted like pastry. They wanted cayenne powder, hot sauce, onions, garlic, spice. They wanted sauces and herbs for flavor that add a dimension to eating that otherwise would not be there.
It is interesting how quickly our taste can become perverted. Many people, for instance, put far too much salt on the foods they eat. Observe this the next time you are in a restaurant: There is a good chance that you will see diners pick up the salt and pepper shakers and shake them over their meals before they even taste the food. It is an ingrained habit, and their taste has become perverted.
That is what happened to the Israelites. They did not comprehend that God was feeding them angel's food, as He calls it in Psalm 78:25, the best possible diet they could get in their circumstance. Would we expect God to supply anything less than the best for the situation? Because He is a God of love, He will always do the best for us in every circumstance.
He was doing that for Israel, but their taste was perverted and so they were unwilling to be content with what God was supplying. Therein lies the lesson for us. Are we content with what God is supplying, or are we looking for stimulation that Christianity seems to lack? Are we looking for an edge? Are we craving flavor in our lives? Are we looking for something out of life in the way of entertainments or social contacts that we feel we are being denied because we are Christians? Do we feel this "privation" is a cross we are unwilling to bear? The lesson from these people is, if such a desire begins to gnaw at us, there is a chance we will give in to intense craving and begin complaining to God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10
Kibroth Hattaavah means "the graves of greediness." Their sin was not just in giving in to their craving. Their sin was they doubted God's ability to supply and they doubted His concern for their welfare.
Understand that God's concern for us is just as great after His calling as it is before. He is still working out His purpose, and He will supply our need. Remember, though, when God gives us what we desire and pray for, it does not necessarily mean that it is a blessing, as in this situation when the "blessing" turned out to be the instrument of death. It is a sobering lesson to keep in the forefront of our minds. Our prayer should always be, "Not my will but Yours be done. God, please remember I am just human."
Human nature is never satisfied. It is filled with self-concern and does not know what is best for it. What it lusts for may even lead to that person's spiritual death. It makes us think that the grass is greener on the other side and that there is more and better in something else, something new and exciting. And when lust is involved, anticipation is always greater than realization. There is a law of diminishing returns at work in this universe that perversion lessens rewards. The Israelites had a perverse craving for tasty food, and their reward ended up being death. Human nature is something we are always going to have to deal with in this life.
God was not dealing with these people in terms of salvation as He is with us. The lesson for us is not to let these cravings—even desires for good things—take our eyes off the goal and the reality of what God is doing for us.
Jeremiah 10:23-24 says that the way of man is not in him to direct his steps. We have to understand that, when we come to God, we are admitting to Him through repentance that our salvation is not internal—it is not something we can produce. In the same vein, the right way to live is not within us. It must come from outside, and that "outside" is God. Thus, we ask God to direct our steps. At baptism, we are asking God to make us into the image of Christ and to rid us of the perversions of human nature that have produced this world.
The experience of the Israelites shows us that, when the going gets unexpectedly rough and hardships occur—say, in the area of tithing, that we have not been blessed to the extent we feel we deserve, or in the area of Sabbath, that we lose our job and cannot find another—and then we have an intense craving for something and begin to look back at our former situation, we can also begin to lust for the very things that not long before we considered to be expendable and holding us in bondage.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10Related Topics: Appetite, Control of | Carnal Nature | Contentment | Craving | Craving, Perverted | Desire | Discontent | Dissatisfaction | Dissatisfaction with God's Providence | Human Nature | Lust | Manna | Perverted Taste | Satisfaction | Spiritual Malnutrition | Stimulation, Craving | Taste, Perverted
The consequences of Korah's "taking action" are clear: God destroyed all these who rose up against Moses and Aaron—against Him. Does this pattern look familiar? It should. It is the age-old and oft-repeated sin of pride manifesting itself in ingratitude. Satan did the same thing (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). It was not enough for him to be a covering cherub at God's throne. It was not enough to have the lordship over the earth and one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:3). No, he wanted to resemble or compare to the Most High (Isaiah 14:14)! His pride led him to go to war against God, a battle he soundly lost (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-10 prophesies that his pride will drive him to attempt another coup d'état before Christ's return.
This is where ingratitude can ultimately lead a person: into total rebellion against God. It lends to an individual feeling a false sense of worth, that he deserves more. If not checked, it becomes a plague of discontent that soon infects others, as Satan's ingratitude spread to other angels.
If this kind of attitude lands us in trouble, just what should our attitude be? A truly humble and grateful person will never rebel against God because he knows that even the very breath he breathes is a gift and calls for praiseful thanksgiving to the Father. Sharing this thanksgiving with others in the church works like soothing oil that helps to heal the body.
God had made him perfect in wisdom, had He not? But Helel, who became Satan, corrupted that wisdom. In biblical terms, wisdom is the actual doing of righteousness. What happened in this situation was that Helel's doings, actions, behaviors, became corrupted. He should have known better because God had given him that wisdom. Early on, he had acted in wisdom, but his competitive attitude, his discontent, his pride, caused him to pervert his way of life.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What the Beast is doing now (and he must be alive and climbing the political ladder today) is working his subtlety wherever he happens to be, using people to create loyalty to himself and to his cause. At the same time, he is gradually undermining—introducing leaven, as it were—to the present governments, causing disloyalty to them, while simultaneously stirring up social trouble through political, justice, educational, religious, and social systems.
There is nothing new about any of this. This is what Adolph Hitler did to subvert Germany to his cause. It is what Lenin and his cabal in Russia did to subvert the Czar and his government in Russia. This is what happened in the Cold War, as nation after nation fell to communism: infiltration through fifth column efforts, which took advantage of internal conditions, bitterness, and dissatisfaction with whoever was in power.
John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories
The way this argument progresses is intriguing. Paul starts by mentioning those who were apostatizing, preaching a false gospel, and rejecting what Christ had given the church in the gospel, yet he ends up speaking about contentment.
His thought is this: Those who argue against the doctrines of God and against the church are essentially discontent. They are at the initial stages of presumptuousness, or they may have already become fully presumptuous. They try to use their "godliness" to get some sort of advantage or gain for themselves. The motives on the surface may seem to be that they are trying to be godly, but underneath, the real motive is to get something for themselves.
We should not think of this "gain" as only money or goods. It could be respect, or favor with somebody. It could be notoriety or having people think that one is smart. It could be having authority of some kind - ordination or having a group of followers. It could be many things. What it comes down to is presumptuousness, because the person who does these things is reaching beyond his place.
God put the person in the body at a specific point, to do a certain job, and when he starts doing the types of things that Paul mentions - arguing against the doctrine, for instance - he is taking a job that he has not been given. Paul says the real gain comes when we behave in a godly manner and reckon that what we have is sufficient for us.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The last phrase ("Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?") indicates a scattering of dismembered bodies, as if they had been left unburied. These "corpses" were the same people who came out of Egypt with great joy, exulting in their new-found liberty. They yearned for a settled and free life in a land that was their own. But, instead of knowing the joy and plenty of the Promised Land, they chose to sentence themselves to live a life of homeless wandering in a barren land and to die and perhaps be buried in an unmarked grave. Chosen to be the beneficiaries of God's great blessings in a rich land, they instead lived poor and hungry in the wilderness, discontented, and often at war because of their sins. Their example ought to be a sobering warning.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Wandering the Wilderness in Faith
The author is writing about being covetous, meaning that we want more for ourselves - things that others seem to have and we do not. So he writes, "Be content with what you have. Don't get all riled up about it."
It is very interesting that he says, "Be content," and then, "God has told you He will never leave you nor forsake you." When we are discontent and dissatisfied, one of the first thoughts that we normally have is that God has abandoned us, that He does not care about us, that He has not blessed us. Paul says, "Don't think that way. Be content with where you are because God has not left you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are exactly where He wants you, so you have no reason to be discontent. God has placed you in the body where it pleases Him." And that should be enough for us.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
For the seed which one day produces the reward which righteousness brings can only be sown when personal relationships are right and by those whose conduct produces such relationships. (James 3:18; William Barclay's Daily Bible Study)
In this verse, James is talking about a social situation. God's purpose - the fruit that He wants from His way of life, the kind of character that He wants in us - has to be produced in peace. It cannot be produced in war.
Why it cannot be produced in war is obvious. When one is involved in war, he is thinking only of himself, which runs 180 degrees counter to God's nature. God's nature is outgoing. When one is engaged in war, all one is seeking to do is to preserve the self. For God's purpose to be fulfilled to the very best degree, peace is required.
The seed, which one day produces the reward that righteousness brings, can only be sown when personal relationships are right, and by those whose conduct will produce such relationships.
Jesus says that peacemakers will be the children of God, not those who butt others aside, aggressively trying to get to the top, asserting themselves, their will, and their ideas in every circumstance, angling to be the big shot. "Out of my way, buddy. That is my beat." Those people, by implication, will not see God.
This is why God will permit a divorce. Does He not say through Paul in I Corinthians 7:15, "If the unbeliever departs, let him depart"? The believer "is not under bondage in such cases" because "God has called us to peace." God will permit a divorce so that a person can be saved due to the subsequent peace. In a family in which a war rages between a husband and wife, it is possible that God may lose both of them.
When those who butt and disturb the flock are present, the flock will not prosper. The shepherd has to ensure that there is peace, freedom from fear from the outside, freedom from tension within, and freedom from aggravation. (We even use the term "bug," which is what insects do to sheep: They irritate them to no end so they cannot gain weight and are discontented.) The shepherd must also make sure there is freedom from hunger - a congregation, a flock, will prosper if it is being well-fed.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 1)Related Topics: Discontent | Discord | Disharmony | Division | Division, Causing | Divorce | Fruit, Bearing | Fruits of God's Holy Spirit | Fruits of Righteousness | Fruits of the Spirit | Peace | Peace Maker | Peace Making | Peace of God | Peace Of Mind | Peace, Pursuing | Peacemaker | Peacemaking | Relationship with God | Relationships | Relationships With People | Seed | Seed as Metaphor | Seed as Metaphor of God's Word | Self Absorption | Self Centeredness | Self-Advantage, Promotion of | Selfish Ambition | Selfish Desire | Selfishness | Spiritual Fruit | Spiritual Growth | Spiritual Growth, Process of
These verses are a basic guideline to the alluring heart of the Babylonish system. This system has its basis in human nature. It feeds right into our desire for frequent change and variety of experience as the answer to fulfillment in life, but the Bible clearly reveals God drawing His children into His oneness.
Babylon promotes fulfillment in material things, excitement and gratification of the flesh, and variety of experience. These major fruits are easily seen in the world around us as confusion of purpose. People do not know where they are going. They are bouncing in every different direction. There is competition, hitting heads with one another. There is disunity and diversity everywhere. There is disharmony, fighting with one's neighbor. There is separation from each other and eventually from God and ultimately the separation of death. The result is that the world is not a happy place to live in.
None of these factors that are part of the allurement of Babylon can give a lasting sense of peace, fulfillment, abundant living, and purpose in life because none of them is in constant harmony with the purpose of God. Each of these things, though they may not be sin of and by themselves, can only produce a temporary burst of well-being.
Many, many times, God instructed Israel against this proclivity. They were to seek out only Him in His only habitation in Jerusalem. But Israel is disastrously curious and terribly smitten with the discontented, unsettled, impatient "grass is always greener" disease.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Seven)Related Topics: "Grass is always greener" disease | Allurement of Babylon | Babylon | Babylon, Allurement of | Babylonish System | Competition | Competitive Spirit | Confusion of Purpose | Discontent | Disharmony | Disunity | Diversification | Excitement | Flesh, Gratification of | Gratification of the Flesh | Human Nature | Love of the World | Lust | Lust of the Eyes | Lust of the Flesh | Materialism | Variety of Experience | Variety, Drive for
These verses provide a basic guideline for avoiding entrapment by this alluring heart of the Babylonish system. Since this system has its basis in human nature, it feeds right into the desires for frequent change and variety of experience as the answers to fulfillment in life. The Bible, however, clearly reveals God drawing His children into His oneness, which is diametrically opposed to the world's system. It promotes fulfillment in material things, excitement, gratification of the flesh, and variety of religious experience. Its major fruits are easily seen in the world around us as confusion of purpose, competition, disharmony, disunity, separation from each other and God, and death.
The result is that this world is not a happy place to live in. None of these factors can give a lasting sense of peace, fulfillment, and abundant living because none of them harmonizes with the purpose of God. They can only produce a temporary burst of emotional well-being or satisfaction.
God instructed Israel often and in many ways against this proclivity. They were to seek only Him in His only habitation in Jerusalem. Israel, though, is disastrously curious and incautious and filled with discontented, unsettled, impatient, "grass is always greener" yearnings.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?
Jude puts this in an interesting way. They were not "the bad angels," or even "the angels who sinned." He calls them "the angels who were not content with where God had placed them."
We know from Revelation 12:4 that one-third of the angels were under Helel's hand, and he convinced them to leave their proper domain—the place where they had dominion, the place of their responsibility and authority—so that they could get more for themselves. In doing this, they sinned. Their discontent caused them to attempt to take by force what had not been given, but which they thought they deserved. This is the same thing that happened in Korah's rebellion (Numbers 16:1-35).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Verse 15 emphasizes ungodliness. These false ministers are the total opposite of what God is, and if we know what God is—what godliness is—then we can identify and avoid them.
Jude then gives four more descriptors to help us identify false teachers: 1) They are discontented murmurers and complainers. They always have something to gripe about. Discontent with their lot in life, they find fault with everything. Nothing is ever right for them. 2) They live to satisfy their every desire, a trait Jude has already explained thoroughly. 3) They speak bombastic bragging words, and 4) they are respecters of persons, if it will benefit them. They will do anything to get ahead.
In verse 17, we were warned that such people will enter the church and try to ruin it, so we have no excuse. They are here already, and we need to make sure they do not stay here by keeping an eye out for them and giving no quarter to them when they begin their ungodly work.
Jude then gives three final descriptions of them in verse 19. He calls them 1) "sensual" or worldly. They are based totally in this world, in the realm of the five senses. They have no connection to the heavenly. 2) They "cause divisions," meaning when they appear, the congregation begins taking sides. 3) He ends his description with the opposite of his description of true church members in verse 1: False teachers do not have God's Spirit. They are not of us. They may be among us, but they are not God's spiritual children (Romans 8:9-17). We can see from their fruits that the spirit they have is not God's.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
JudeRelated Topics: Discontent | Division | Division, Causing | False Ministers/Prophets | False Religion | False Teachers | False Teachers, Characteristics of | False Teaching | Murmuring | Self Absorption | Self Centeredness | Self Concern | Self Gratification | Self Indulgence | Self Satisfaction | Self Seeking | Selfish Ambition | Selfishness | Test the Spirits | Testing the Spirits | Ungodliness