10:10 Neither murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
It's hard to say which specific incident is being referred to here but likely it was Korah's rebellion when he and others felt they were more qualified to lead than Moses was.
The Old Testament has some dark events and as a result of those God often gets a bad rap. I am often shocked at how man Christians feel the God of the Old Testament is harsh, even eager to destroy. It seems like they willfully forget the amazing stories of patience and mercy in there as well. They also forget the context surrounding the dark stories. A third factor that really makes the Old Testament misunderstood is that the people themselves had a dark picture of God. They understood Him to be like the angry pagan gods and spoke of Him often in those terms. Even Abraham when talking to Him about Sodom and no Gomorrah repeatedly said "Please don't be angry but let me speak once more..." Where did he ever get the idea that God gets and angry when we gave questions or concerns? If Eve had taken her questions and concerns to God in the beginning we might not be in this mess.
Now whichever incident Paul had in mind the pattern was always the same: Murmuring preceded punishment. First we need to understand that murmuring is not asking a question. Murmuring in the context of the wilderness journey was open rebellion. Korah knew that Moses was the man God had chosen. From birth his story was a miraculous one. When he returned from Midian to lead the people out of Egypt God supported his words and story with miracles. There could be no rational doubt about who the leader was. He was appointed by God.
You may remember the questions that arose when Aaron was appointed the High Priest. The Bible does not tell us but I'm sure a doubt or two crossed Moses' mind too about this choice. After all this was the same Aaron that built the golden calf. Hardly seemed like the résumé for the highest spiritual leader of the nation. The concern was so great that Moses took the matter to God. Note that God acknowledged the concern and offered a solution. Each tribe chose a man they thought would be a better candidate than Aaron. Like a game of pick up hockey they all threw their sticks into the pile. God told Moses to leave them all inside the Sanctuary overnight and in the morning it would be obvious who was the man of God’s choosing.
You likely know the story. In the morning the other 11 sticks were still sticks (staffs). Aaron's stick had leaves, buds, and fully ripe almonds on it!
Why do I tell this story? There is a great difference between asking a genuine question or having a legitimate concern and an act of murmuring rebellion. The former God honours. The latter places us with our father.
What do I mean? Note who did the destroying of the murmurers. It wasn't God. They were destroyed by their own master. They were destroyed by the original murmuring rebel. Their sin was the same and so was their end.
God loves us but His love cannot rescue us from willful persistent open defiant rebellion. To murmur is to say we know better than God and would do a better job if He would let us. The very fact He has to let us proves who God is and who we are and if He did hand us His scepter do you know what the results would be? We are living them. Satan was handed the scepter for one planet. He had one place and one people to demonstrate how much superior he is to God.
I don't know about you but I'm not liking the results at all. Some day soon this planet is going back into the hands of the One who created it and us and the Murmurer will be no more.