Daily Devotional Saturday 8th August 2020

by William Moody

Numbers 12

Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses

12:1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed.

10 When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous,1 like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us2 because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the LORD, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. 16 After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

Footnotes

[1] 12:10 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
[2] 12:11 Hebrew do not lay sin upon us

(ESV)

We see here that the complaining continues, as the lessons from previous chastisement have not been learnt. Now the complaining comes from those closest to Moses, his brother and sister (v1). The complaint begins about Moses’ wife. Scholars are divided, some think this might have been Zipporah (Exodus 2 v21) or another wife Moses had. Whatever the truth is, this was not the main issue but an excuse to complain. The main problem was they didn’t want to submit under Moses’ teaching (v2), or really they did not want to submit to God’s teaching.

Moses was not a man who would have found it easy to stick up for himself (v2) due to his humble nature. But here we see God is very willing to stick up for His servant (v4-8). God highlights the unique relationship Moses had with God, a relationship Aaron and Miriam needed to respect.

Ministers today are not prophets, we are not Moses, but we have the great task of sharing God’s Word. Congregations will be able to find faults in any minister, but they need to be careful that opposition to or criticism is not really coming from a reluctance to submit to God’s Word in their lives.

The consequences of this complaining, particularly upon Miriam are severe (v9-12). Moses intercedes and Miriam is healed (v13) but she still has to remain outside the camp for a week (v14-15), no doubt as a warning both to Miriam and the people, as a complaining spirit is very harmful in a fellowship. Have you a complaining spirit? Pray to God about this?

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.