Opposition; May 22, 2020

Numbers 12:1-2 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 asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

This is a very interesting story that in some ways is surprising that it was recorded. The parenthetical comment about Moses’ humility in the next verse may be the reason for the story being included, but since Moses himself was the author, verse three at least is clearly the insertion of a later copier/editor. That said, it is a very human story, and shows yet again that God works with imperfect people. Miriam is clearly the instigator in this incident, which is why the Lord’s judgment fell on her. She was the one who had led the nation in praising God after the crossing of the Red Sea, and she is called a prophetess there. (Exodus 15:20-21) She was used to hearing from God, but she let it go to her head, in contrast to her brother Moses. It is possible that she took credit, in her own thinking at least, for Moses’ successes, since she was involved in his being adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh as an infant. (Exodus 2:1-10) She obviously also harbored racial prejudice, and was upset that Moses had married a black woman. (Cush was the southern Nile region, currently Sudan.) She was also devious, roping Aaron into her vendetta and talking behind Moses’ back. All of that said, God used her, even though He disciplined her severely, and Miriam is a rightly beloved name among Jews and Christians alike. The whole incident is an illustration of the reality that opposition can come from anywhere. As Jesus said, quoting Micah 7:6, “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36) Part of Moses’ humility was a deep awareness that God was leading him, so he wasn’t to be swayed by opposition, even when it was very close to home.

I have thankfully never faced opposition from within my own family, but I have faced it from people whom I considered to be close to me. Just yesterday I read an article in Ministry Today talking about leadership, and how a pastor will often face opposition from the very people he had been counting on to support him. I’ve tasted that! I must be careful not to become bitter or cynical, but like Moses, remember that we are all in God’s hands and have to answer to Him. I in no way wish Miriam’s fate on anyone, any more than Moses desired it for her. I am to pray God’s grace and mercy for all, knowing that we are all dependent on Him.

Father, thank You for this reading coming right after yesterday’s article. I certainly had no idea of that when I was choosing the readings last month! Thank You for indeed knowing the end from the beginning. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You more and more, so that You may receive all the glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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