Read Numbers 12:1-3. What are Miriam and Aaron upset about?
Ostensibly, Miriam and Aaron were unhappy about Moses’ Cushite wife. Zipporah was an outsider hailing from Midian (see Exodus 3:1). Even among Israel’s “elite,” the fallenness of our nature is revealed, and not in a very pleasant way either. (Is it ever?)
The biblical text, however, clearly shows this to be a pretext. The main focus of their complaint is about the prophetic gift. In the previous chapter God had told Moses to appoint seventy of Israel’s elders who would help Moses carry the administrative burden of leadership (Num: 11:16, Num 11:17, Num 11.24-25). Aaron and Miriam had been playing key leadership roles, as well (Exodus 4:13-15, Micah 6:4), but now they felt threatened by the new leadership development and said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Num: 12:2).
How does God respond to this complaint? Read Numbers 12:4-13. Why do you think God responds so decisively?
God’s response is immediate and leaves no room for interpretation. The prophetic gift is not a weapon used to wield more power. Moses was well suited for leadership because he had learned how extremely dependent he was on God.
The fact that Miriam is mentioned before Aaron in verse 1 suggests that she may have been the instigator of the attack on Moses. At this time, Aaron is already serving as Israel’s high priest. If he had been struck with leprosy, he would not have been able to enter the tabernacle and minister on the people’s behalf. God’s punishment of Miriam with temporary leprosy communicates vividly His displeasure with both of them and helps bring about the attitude change that this family needs. Aaron’s plea for her affirms that he, too, was involved (Num: 12:11), and now instead of criticism and restlessness, we see Aaron pleading for Miriam, and we see Moses interceding on her behalf (Num: 12:11-13). This is the attitude that God wants to see in His people. He hears, and He heals Miriam.
|Though it’s always easy to be critical of church leadership, at any level, how much better would our church and our own spiritual life be if, instead of complaining, we would intercede in behalf of our leaders even when we disagree with them?|