Murmurers and Complainers

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1:16)

Jude’s book cites several incidents in the early history of Israel right after they were wonderfully delivered from slavery in Egypt. Within a very short time, they had come through the Red Sea, had bitter water made sweet, seen water come out of a rock, and been fed with “angels’ food” from heaven. Yet when the 12 spies came back from the land of Canaan that had been promised to them, there was a widespread revolt against God and against Moses’ leadership.

The ten spies who “murmured” against God “died by the plague before the LORD” (Numbers 14:37). Some who had previously sided with the defeatist words of the spies tried to take matters into their own hands and “presumed to go up” to fight against the Canaanites and were killed or scattered (Numbers 14:44-45).

Much of the history of Israel is marked by various ways of turning away from God. Psalm 81 provides a good summary of how God sees this behavior: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:10-12).

Jude uses a rather unusual word picture to describe those who use others for their personal advantage. They speak “great swelling words” to gain the association. The Greek word is huperogkos, which conveys something like “beyond weight” or “too heavy.” The words are coming from hearts that are lustful and attempting to manipulate others for their own benefit. It appears that those who “murmur” and “complain” will use “heavy” words to achieve their ends. HMM III

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