"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Friday, April 8, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 12

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Complete Study of Numbers by pastor Chuck Smith

NUMBERS 12: “UNCALLED-FOR CRITICISM”

– by Sonny Islas, For the full message, watch it on SHINE BRIGHT Church YouTube channel!

INTRODUCTION: Tonight we’re going to read about the betrayal of an innocent and goldy man. NUMBERS 12 records Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ older siblings being unjustly critical of their little bro, Moses. We will glean some golden lessons from this chapter.

NUMBERS 12:1-16
1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) 4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. 5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. 10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb. 13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. 14 And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. 15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. 16 And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran
.

Miriam is the culprit, the initiator, and the truth lies beneath their first supposed complaint:
[vs. 1] It says that “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married”

We see here that Miriam’s name was placed before Aaron’s name which means that Miriam was the fire starter, the instigator, the chief complainer, and critic who most likely dragged her brother Aaron into this needless attack on Moses. Ironically Miriam means “rebellious and bitter”. Her name fits her actions perfectly.

[Note to TTUF readers: Do a word study on the names of people (or places) in the Bible; you’ll find it most insightful quite often!]

Moses [remarried after his first wife Zipporah had died (NUM 12:1), scripture is clear] BUT what we can clearly see is that this complaint about his wife was just a pretense – what really bothered Miriam and Aaron is found in [vs. 2] where “they said, has the LORD indeed only spoken through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?”

Answer – No. God spoke through Miriam back in EXODUS 15:20,21. God spoke through Aaron EXODUS 4:15,16. God spoke through the 70 Elders in NUMBERS 11.

So, the issue was deeper than their question: They were basically accusing Moses of being a prideful, self-exalting, power-grabbing, one-man band BUT this uncalled-for criticism and false association could not be further from the truth, because it was most likely Joshua (who knew Moses best) who added a short comment on Moses’ humble character in verse [vs.3] “Now the man Moses was very humble (Meek), MORE THAN ALL MEN who were on the face of the earth.” Imagine possessing that level of humility? If we were all that humble, we would be in heaven right now.

If Moses was as prideful as they accused him of being, Moses would have never shared the leadership load and responsibility with the 70 Elders. He would have rejected his father-in-laws advice in making this move (EX 18:17-24).

We have to add that this wasn’t always the case with Moses; keep in mind that he was raised in Egypt and in the Pharaoh's palace. He was young, handsome, intelligent, strong, rich, and popular. He was a young man filled with the palace's pride. Yet HEB 11:23-29 tells us what Moses left behind to follow God.

The reality was that Miriam and Aaron were jealous and envious of Moses’ calling, and of his nearness to God and just wanted a piece of that pie (as they saw it). They didn’t like that God called Moses specifically to lead the pack – this giant congregation. They were infected with the “Who Does He Think He Is? syndrome!

“Why does Moses get to call all the shots!” But they secretly craved for, and demanded for more limelight, more recognition, more authority, more ears, attention, and respect from the people.

Side note: Miriam had the attitude that many women in liberal and progressive (actually, regressive) churches have today where they want to lead, they want to be the pastor, they want the pulpit etc. But it wasn’t given to them by God (1 TIM 2:12).

By the way, Miriam played a huge role in saving Moses’ life as a child (EXOD 2:4) – I think she forgot about how the LORD used her to help Moses get to where he is now.

And this critical and prideful spirit is something that we all need to beware of – because - we too can become critical and jealous of brothers and sisters who are [by appropriated grace] obviously more spiritual, wiser, more influential and godly than we are. This same attitude caused Cain to murder Abel. Our criticism and envy of another may not cause us to murder them, but we may murder their character, their ministry, their reputation etc. We need to guard our hearts in this area!
When we see God using and blessing others, we ought to rejoice for them and with them, remembering that we are one team with one goal and that is to exalt JESUS!

It’s all about JESUS and His glory, and not at all about ourselves and our glory! For an excellent teaching on this, especially suitable for pastors and ministers, check out Abner Chou’s teaching: “The Temptations, Trials & Triumphs of Pastoral Ministry


Here are some practical tips in the form of probing questions to help guard us from being pridefully critical of someone

Ask yourself – Am I just being prideful? Do I have evil motives?
Is this problem I think I see in someone else something that I can show grace on and overlook?
Is this as serious as I’m making it out to be? Is this just me being envious?
Is this just me wanting my way? Have I really prayed about it?
I think that if Miriam would have spent a little more time self-reflecting and heart examining – she may have avoided all of this drama!

Wherever there are God given roles, positions and responsibilities, this temptation to become prideful and rebellious is present, i.e., children are tempted to rebel against their parents; wives against their husbands; employees against their employers. Even congregations against their spiritual leadership.

I’ve heard of deacons coming against elders and assistant pastors coming against their senior pastor. At times push back is necessary and valid but at other times it’s just pure pride that causes us to act like Miriam and Aaron and their unwillingness to submit to what the LORD has established.

This is why Paul says in EPHESIANS 5:21
...submitting to one another in the fear of God
. Also consider 1 TIM 5:17; HEB 13:17. Although there are God-given roles, responsibilities, and authority, all are called to live in harmony with a heart of unity and teamwork that brings about peace – not unnecessary tension.
Well, God was angered and rightfully so by Miriam and Aaron’s uncalled for criticism and pride.

God calls for an immediate meeting with these three and He in a sense checks Miriam and Aaron by telling them exactly why Moses is so special to Him. Namely, God talks to Moses, face to Face (not in visions or dreams as GOD often did with other prophets) and that Moses is the most faithful to Him of them all.

God strikes Miriam with the most advanced of leprosy and kicks her out of the camp for a whole week! This was so that she could think about what she did, what she plotted to do and that was to destroy Moses’ ministry and reputation.

When God was finished talking, He just departed. He didn’t let Miriam and Aaron respond. This shows us that at times because of our prideful attitudes the LORD may pull away and distance Himself in displeasure. He will never altogether disown His own, but He may distance Himself from them as a way to correct them and bring about repentance and humility (JAMES 4:6).
What did Aaron do? He quickly admitted his sin, and this may have been the reason why God didn’t strike Aaron with leprosy’ or it may be because Miriam was the more guilty party. Or God didn’t want His worship to be interrupted because Aaron was a key person as the High Priest.
God shamed Miriam openly and publicly to teach her a lesson she will never forget.

Think hard before you speak against God’s work and chosen workers.
Miriam’s leprosy was an outward display of her inward parts – her heart.
How did Moses respond to their pride and uncalled for criticism? He prayed for her healing. He cried out for mercy in their place. No wonder Moses was considered to be very humble. He wasn’t one to defend Himself if he didn’t need to, nor was he vengeful.

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