A SERIOUS CONSEQUENCE
Leslie M. John
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:1-2)
Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, his brother spoke against Moses “because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman”, and also against his leadership. More than the issue of Moses marrying an Ethiopian woman, the issue of castigating God’s chosen servant was a matter of concern for the LORD. What surprises is that the complaint came from his family members rather than outsiders. Lord Jesus said:
“… A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57)
Their charge against Moses was not really whether or not God spoke to him, but it was based on their false assumption that Moses was acting as if God spoke only to him. If it was only about speaking, God spoke to Aaron as well (cf. Exodus 4:30; Exodus 12:1). Their jealousy was founded on their false assumption that Moses considered them as his subordinates; nay Moses did not do so.
Although Miriam was called a prophetess, who sang song along with other women, the song of victory unto the LORD in praises over the triumph the LORD gave the children of Israel over Pharaoh and His army at the Red Sea, yet the LORD did not take the accusations of her and Aaron against Moses lightly. She knew that the LORD made a path-way for them to walk on, a dry land, in the midst of Red Sea, where, after the children of Israel had crossed over, He drowned Pharaoh and his chariots with his army. She indeed sang a great song; yet her accusation against Moses was not tolerated by God. (cf. Exo.14:21-31; 15:20-21).
Not after a long time after their complaints were lodged against Moses, but immediately the LORD spoke to Moses, Aaron and Miriam and called them out to be present at the Tabernacle. The three came to the Tabernacle, and the LORD descended in a pillar of cloud and stood in its door. The LORD then called specifically Miriam and Aaron and said to them the difference between His speaking to others and Moses was that He spoke in dreams and visions to prophets, but to Moses he spoke mouth to mouth, which indicates the LORD’s intimacy with Moses, who was His faithful servant.
The Lord then questioned Miriam and Aaron as to why they were not afraid of questioning the authority of Moses, His servant. They had no answer to the LORD and therefore, His anger was kindled against them and the cloud departed from off the Tabernacle.
Inasmuch as Miriam took the lead, even over Aaron, in castigating Moses the servant of the LORD, the consequence was quite evident immediately. Aaron looked upon Miriam and was surprised to see that she became a leper, white as snow. Aaron was spared inasmuch as he was second in lead to accuse him.
Acknowledging that they spoke foolishly of Moses, Aaron addressed him as his ‘lord’ and requested not to lay the sin upon them. The magnanimous heart of Moses was seen here when he interceded on behalf of them and pleaded for healing her sickness, rather than expressing any grievances against her. Moses was indeed meekest of all the men in the world.
The LORD answered the cry of Moses and He questioned as to whether she should be chastised for seven days or not if her father had spit in her face? In other words the LORD was saying that she deserved chastisement. Spitting on the face was considered as great insult (cf. Lev. 14:8; Job 30:10; Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67). God wanted her to be deprived of her privileges for seven days, equating her actions, which were to be manifest among all the children of Israel, as father’s spit on her face. As the LORD commanded she was shut out of the camp of Israelites for seven days.
“And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days” (Leviticus 14:8)
The children of Israel waited for Miriam to complete her chastisement and resumed their journey from Hazeroth to the wilderness of Paran after her healing and coming into the camp (cf. Ref. Numbers 12:14-16).
Moses died in the land of Moab when he was an hundred and twenty years old and was buried in a valley which was over against Bethpeor. No one until this day knows where his sepulcher is. His eyes were not dim and his efficiency was not diminished during his last days. The children of Israel mourned over his death for thirty days. He was seen at the transfiguration of Lord Jesus Christ.
“…behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him” (Matthew 17:1-3)
What a great hope we have that we will see Moses and Lord Jesus Christ in eternity! Apostle Paul describes that we shall not all sleep, but shall be changed in a moment of twinkling of an eye and put on immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-54).
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52)