Speaking against Moses

Scripture Passage: 
Numbers 12:1-16

INTRODUCTION: One of the most difficult things in dealing with spiritual leaders is knowing how to deal with them when you believe they are wrong. As usual, there are two extremes: you can blindly follow a leader into even sin and heresy (Matthew 23:13-15), or you can rebel against him and bring upon yourself the wrath of God. This lesson gives an example of the second extreme.

  1. THE COMPLAINT OF MIRIAM AND AARON (Numbers 12:1-3)
    1. The Complainers
      1. The path of complaining
        1. The chapter begins with the word And which joins it with the previous chapter showing a continuation.
        2. The complaining traveled as shown below:
          1. The mixt multitude (Numbers 11:4)
          2. The children of Israel (Numbers 11:4)
          3. Moses (Numbers 11:11)
          4. Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1)
      2. Miriam
        1. Mentioned first
          1. The only place in scripture where Miriam is mentioned before either of her brothers (see Numbers 12:5; 1 Chronicles 6:3; Micah 6:4)
          2. She was probably the instigator of the complaint. This helps explain her greater punishment.
        2. Sister of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 26:59)
        3. Called a prophetess (Exodus 15:20)
      3. Aaron
        1. Brother of Moses (Exodus 4:14)
        2. Spokesman and prophet (Exodus 4:16; Exodus 7:1)
        3. The first high priest (Exodus 40:12-16)
          1. Chosen of God (Psalm 105:26)
          2. Called of God (Hebrews 5:4)
        4. The saint of the Lord (Psalm 106:16)
    2. The Reason for the Complaint (Numbers 12:1-2)
      1. Moses married an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1).
        1. More than likely this was a recent marriage for Moses and hence the murmuring of Miriam and Aaron.
        2. This lady was possibly from the mixed multitude.
        3. We do not find Zipporah referred to as an “Ethiopian woman” elsewhere in scripture.
        4. Though we read about Zipporah’s father in Numbers 10, we have not read of Zipporah in the Book of Numbers and it is a possibility that she is already dead.
        5. Even if Zipporah were not dead, God made provisions in the Old Testament for a man with two wives (Deuteronomy 21:15).
        6. Was Moses’ union sin?
          1. God did not rebuke Moses, but rather rebuked Miriam and Aaron.
          2. God had not commanded His people not to marry Ethiopians (Genesis 24:2-3; Deuteronomy 7:1-3; Exodus 34:11-15).
          3. God comments on the meekness and faithfulness of Moses in this chapter.
      2. Because of his position (Numbers 12:2)
        1. Hath the LORD spoken only by Moses?
        2. Hath He not spoken by us?
        3. The three were leaders (Micah 6:4).
    3. The Meekness of Moses (Numbers 12:3)
      1. He thought himself unimportant (Exodus 3:11).
      2. He thought himself unable (Exodus 4:10-13).
  2. THE ANSWER FROM THE LORD (Numbers 12:4-9)
    1. A Summons to Court (Numbers 12:4-5)
      1. The Lord spake suddenly.
      2. The three called to the tabernacle
      3. The Lord came down and called Miriam and Aaron forward.
    2. The Opening and Closing Remarks of the Lord (Numbers 12:6-8)
      1. A regular prophet
        1. I will give him a vision.
        2. I will speak to him in a dream.
      2. Moses
        1. With him I speak mouth to mouth.
          1. Apparently
          2. Not in dark speeches
        2. The similitude of the Lord shall he behold.
      3. Why were you not afraid to speak against him?
    3. Case Closed (Numbers 12:9)
      1. The Lord departed.
      2. He did not give Miriam and Aaron a chance to defend their case.
  3. THE PLEADING FOR MIRIAM (Numbers 12:10-14)
    1. Miriam, not Aaron, became leprous.
    2. Apparently Miriam was the main instigator in the sin.
      1. Her name is mentioned first each time and she is the one punished.
      2. Aaron is the High Priest and according to the law of the leper in Leviticus, the leper would be brought to the High Priest on the day of his cleansing (Leviticus 14:2-3).
    3. Aaron Pleads with Moses (Numbers 12:11-12).
      1. Aaron repents (Numbers 12:11).
      2. Aaron pleads for his sister (Numbers 12:12).
    4. Moses Pleads with the Lord (Numbers 12:13-14).
      1. Moses intercedes for Miriam.
        1. Moses forgives the very one who has accused him.
        2. The Lord Jesus did this on the cross (Luke 23:33-34).
        3. Stephen did this at his stoning (Acts 7:60).
      2. God tells Moses of His disgust with Miriam.
        1. If her father had spit in her face
        2. God compares His judgment of Miriam with a father spitting in the face of his child.
      3. Should she not be ashamed?
        1. It appears that God healed Miriam immediately but still pronounces that she should be removed from the camp for seven days.
        2. After that she can be received in.
  4. THE RESTORATION OF MIRIAM (Numbers 12:15-16)
    1. Miriam Returns (Numbers 12:15).
    2. The Delay of the Journey (Numbers 12:15)
    3. To the Wilderness of Paran (Numbers 12:16)

CONCLUSION: The sin of complaining is contagious. It began with the mixt multitude and worked its way into the hearts of the leaders. In this lesson, we see once again just how disgusting this sin is to the Lord. May we as God’s people give ourselves and our strength to things that bring glory to God, rather than the things that disgust Him.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 23:8

The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
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