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Isaiah 45:9-11 - Homiletics

Murmuring against God's arrangements at once foolish and wicked

Man is very apt to consider himself wiser than God, if not altogether, at any rate in this or that particular matter. There are few who do not at times imagine that, had the arrangement of the universe been committed to them, they could have improved it in many respects. Some would have had no sin; almost all would have had no suffering. Every one would have made some change or other. Bishop Butler suggests that such speculations are not altogether innocent ('Analogy,' part 1. Isaiah 2:1-22 .); but they are, perhaps, not greatly to be blamed, unless where they lead on to positive dissatisfaction, to complaints, and to murmurings.


1 . It is vain , idle ; it can produce no change. God will not alter his arrangements because we are dissatisfied with them. "With him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" ( James 1:17 ). The laws which he gives are laws "which shall not be broken" ( Psalms 148:6 , Prayer-book Version). "Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" ( 2 Peter 3:4 ). If we could affect the operation of God's laws, change them, modify them, the case would be different; there would then be some result of our querulousness. But, as it is, there is no result—we effect nothing.

2 . It is founded on ignorance. We know so little of God's entire scheme of things that we cannot possibly tell whether any part of the scheme to which we object may not be a necessary condition to, or inseparably bound up with, some other part or parts on which we set the highest value. That to which we object may conceivably be the very thing which, if we knew all, we should most prize.

3 . It is the preference of a lesser good over a greater. Whatever we may say in moments of suffering, ennui , or dissatisfaction, we do not really believe in our inmost hearts that any portion of God's arrangement of the universe is actually wrong and could be set right by our wisdom. We know that "whatever is, is best." Were we actually empowered to make a change, we should hesitate. We should be afraid of doing harm. How foolish, then, to grumble at arrangements which we should fear to disturb!


1 . It is a form of rebellion against God , and so of the basest ingratitude, inasmuch as God is our great Benefactor, to whom we owe everything.

2 . It is always selfish. We are never tempted to murmur except when the operation of some law of God's universe interferes with our own immediate comfort, or our profit, or our imagined advantage. But in such cases we know that our disadvantage must be compensated by some overplus of advantage to others, or the law would not exist; so that our murmuring implies a desire that others should suffer instead of ourselves, which is pure selfishness.

3 . It argues pride. If we had a right sense of our own demerit and ill deserving, we should accept any and every chastening at God's hands as far less than our due. We should "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God," and take thankfully whatever suffering he sent us. It is only when we are so proud as to imagine we do not need chastening that we can murmur.

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