These are only some of the situations that some of us must
work through and still maintain a Christian attitude. In our
lesson today we will view a similar scene that will give us
principles to follow when we encounter wounds deep in our
Read Numbers 12: 1-15. Notice the improper passion
of Aaron and Miriam and the tremendous patience of Moses under
this defiance that was coming from his siblings and fellow
leaders. Aaron the High Priest and Miraim the prophetess were
in joint leadership with Moses. These two were angry with him.
They were questioning his qualifications as a leader.
Many times, Moses felt this same kind of hurt, however, the
wounds cut more deeply when the attack came from his own
brother and sister. Now criticism was not a new thing for
Moses. He had been criticized before and he was able to endure
it with courage. When he first confronted Pharaoh, the Hebrews
accused him of doing more harm than good. The children of
Israel accused Moses of trying to kill them by taking them out
into the dessert. We read in Numbers 16 an incident where
Korah and his company criticized Moses. However, in Numbers 12
his own brother and sister publicly criticized him and
challenged his leadership. This hurt must have cut deeper than
the previous incidents because it came from his trusted
companions and siblings.
Hebrews 12:3, "Now Moses was very meek, above all
the men which were upon the face of the earth." This
reference to Moses being the most meek man on earth is said to
be a parenthetical comment added by Joshua after Moses' death.
It is not probable as some commentators have suggested, that
Ezra or Joshua inserted the words meek or humble. We do
notice that this verse has parenthesis around it so this
supposition could be the case. We are most certain that Moses
would not be one that would write about himself in such a bold
The criticism was so devastating to Moses that he couldn't
respond. He was in a mental anguish by these words from his
brother and sister. With our verse saying Moses was the
meekest man in the world, we learn much about meekness that is
not the common view of the world about meekness. Meekness is
often viewed as weakness, shyness, passiveness, backwardness,
femininity, a lack of courage and as someone who would never
lift up his voice in protest of anything. But meekness as seen
here is far different. It is strength to hold your tongue
when you are being attacked by unjust criticism; it is
humbleness that does not arrogantly strut your calling and
position; and it is faith that trusts God to take care of your
vindication needs. Meekness as seen in Moses is submission to
the will and the way of God by a calm temperament.
The Details of the Story
Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his
Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. "Has the
LORD spoken only through Moses?" they said, "Hasn't
He also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this"
(vv. 1,2). Moses marriage to a Cushite woman was neither
morally nor legally wrong. Miriam and Aaron's complaint was a
smokescreen to cover their jealousy of Moses' authority. I
suggest that Miriam didn't give a care about Moses' marriage.
She had a problem of jealous. Moses had had a wife now and
Miriam was feeling that perhaps this Cushite woman could have
some influence on the women in the camp. The ugly head of
Jealousy was rearing up. Jealousy is ugly because:
Moses did not portray a resentment to the hurt that was
done to him nor did he complain to God concerning this hurt.
Even though Moses kept silent, God heard the complaint from
Miriam and Aaron.
Psalm 38:13-15,"They that seek after my life lay
snares for me: and they seek my hurt speak mischievous things,
and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man
heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.
Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are
no reproofs. For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: Thou wilt hear O
Lord my God."
Romans 12:19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not
yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is
written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
Deut. 32: 35-42, "To me belongeth vengeance, and
recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of
their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon
them make haste."
Hebrews 10:30, "For we know him that hath said,
Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the
Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
The way Moses responded is the same way Jesus responded. He
kept silent too. He knew that his accusers were not interested
in finding the truth. They were only interested in getting
their own way. Moses recognized this negative attitude.
We also must make this kind of response when attacked by
others. Most of the time, the more we talk about the situation
the worse things will become.
What Moses Chose to Do
He let God do the striking. God calls the three siblings
to a meeting in the tent of Moses. Miriam and Aaron might have
thought that God was going to give them some special position,
but God speaks to the two of them directly, face to face. God
says to them: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I
reveal myself to him in visions; I speak to him in dreams. But
this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my
house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in
riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not
afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"
Here God affirms the position He has given to Moses and God
rebukes Miriam and Aaron. You see, Moses does not have to
defend himself. God defends Moses.
God's instructions in His Word are clear. Leave the matter
to Him and keep silent if you know without a doubt that you
are innocent. His Word instructs us like this in Deut.
Then in the New Testament the Apostle Paul elaborates on
the same subject in Romans 12: 17-19, "Do not repay
anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the
eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on
you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my
friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:
"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
In other words, let God handle the situation. Now that is
sometimes tough to do, but while we wait for the Lord to
vindicate us He instructs us to do five things.
- Resist the temptation to strike back.
- Do what is right according to the Word of God. We have a
responsibility to continue to act with love and kindness.
This will determine how deep our faith really is.
- Do everything possible to maintain peace. Also, notice
that Paul instructs us to continue to seek reconciliation.
We must do everything we can do to re restore peace.
- Do not seek revenge. God said He will repay. God alone
knows all the variables of the circumstances.
- Always respond to evil with good.
A difficult assignment - Absolutely! We can only obey this
assignment with the help of the Holy Spirit and with much
Moses continues to pray for his sister that has hurt him so
deeply. Miriam is struck with leprosy. She became an outcast
and had to be set aside outside the camp. Aaron didn't receive
any punishment so we can assume that Miriam must have been the
instigator of the whole plot and criticism against Moses.
Aaron approaches Moses and asks Moses to pray for his sister.
Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them
which despitefully use you and persecute you."
Moses still had a love for his sister. He did not respond
with negative words. He begins an intercession for his sister
and appeals to God to heal her. God waits for a week before he
heals Miriam. I am sure that God wants the people to see that
attacking God's leader is serious. He does not respond lightly
to such actions.
Here Are Some Very Important Lessons for Us to Learn:
- Is this criticism justified?
- Do I need to really hear what is being said?
- Am I involved in some sin?
- Do I need to admit to a problem that I have ignored?
- Could I be misunderstanding what is being said?
- Is my friend or loved one saying something because of
concern and I am taking it as an attack?
- Did my critic mean something different and I
misrepresented what was said?
- Am I reading more into the comment than what was really
- Could there be some other issues involved?
There is an old saying that we will do well to remember,
"The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be
ruined by praise than saved by criticism." The Scripture
puts it like this:
Proverbs 15: 31-32 (TLB), "If you profit from
constructive criticism you will be elected to the wise men's
hall of fame. But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and
your own interests."
Sometimes when words are spoken that hurt us it could be
that the other person is crying for help. We need to listen
carefully and be careful not to jump to conclusions.
I Corinthians 13: 3-5 (AMP), "Love endures long and
is patient and kind, it takes no account of the evil done to
it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong.]
Love does not see through a
microscope, but through a telescope.
Psalm 27:3 (TLB), "Though a mighty army marches
against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that
God will save me."
When we love, we may find it best
to make some allowances rather than make points.
Proverbs 12:18 (NIV), "Reckless words
pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings
Remember that we hurt Jesus with our
carelessness over and over again. Yet, Jesus continues to love
us and even continues to pursue us and seek the best for us.
Our Lord directs us to do the same.
"...if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt.
6:15 Jesus said that an individual who refuses to forgive
others will lose the assurance of divine mercy and the joy of
fellowship with God. An unwillingness to pardon another is a
grievous sin, and many have paid a heavy price for failing to
heed the Lord's admonition.
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