Rabble (Numbers 11:4-6)

The danger to any organization’s stability is always the greatest from within. It does not matter if it is a secular business or a church. Crafty individuals exert their will upon others, eventually gathering enough support to challenge the leadership. I have seen it within several organizations of which I have been a part of and even within my own company. At the least, these individuals are a thorn in the side of management. At the worst, an all-out rebellion may result. 

The Bible records an episode that vividly portrays this. The Israelites had left Egypt, rescued by the miracles of God. Moses was leading them and, at a time they should be grateful for their deliverance, grumblings were beginning to be expressed. 

Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” 

Numbers 11:4-6 (NLT)

The foreign rabble that are being described in this passage has also been translated as riff-raff and mixed multitude. Who were they? They were gentiles, non-Jewish people, who were traveling with the Israelites. This term has survived into today’s language as a rabble-rouser, describing someone who agitates and inflames the emotions of a group of people, often for political or selfish gains. 

It is instructive that the rabble aimed their complaints directly at God’s goodness and provisions. It was so much better when they were in Egypt, ignoring the fact they were slaves. They soon got the attention of some of the Israelites who quickly piled on, descending down a slippery slope, complaining about the manna, God’s miraculous provision. The rabble in an organization often aim their complaints directly at leadership, complaining that they are uncaring, unresponsive, or both. Once they are heard, they quickly leverage it to foment strife. 

There will always be rabble. It may not be obvious. A casual complaint, even spoken in jest, may quickly escalate. Whatever our position in an organization, we must be alert and sensitive to identify such individuals before it is too late.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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