Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Miriam's Complaint

Miriam was Moses’ sister and became a prophetess. Her courage, faith, ability to think and take decisive action, even as a youth, helps us understand why God chose her, along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron, to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. She is mentioned in the same sentence with her brothers:

“For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of slavery; and I sent before thee, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).

Now that’s a pretty impressive credential to have on your resume.

But Miriam got into trouble with God for revolting against Moses when he married an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1). Before this “WIFE” came along, Miriam was in charge. She was the “first lady” of Israel. No doubt Miriam got to sit in staff meetings with Moses and was included in the decision-making process. But now another woman gets to take care of Moses and she becomes jealous.

She begins to complain, “Is Moses the only one that God speaks through? You should know that God speaks through me too” (Numbers 12:2).

Miriam WAS a prophetess and God DID speak through her. But complaining and revolting against God-appointed leadership is so grievous that God got very angry with her. He called her aside and said, “Miriam, when I speak to prophets, I speak to them through dreams and visions. But when I speak to Moses I speak to him FACE TO FACE” (Numbers 12:6-8). And with this God said to her, “Why then are you NOT AFRAID to SPEAK AGAINST My servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:8b).

Miriam had gotten too big for her britches… and now she is in big trouble.

God gave her a fresh batch of leprosy so that she, and all Israel, would get the message that REBELLION, CRITICISM, and CONSPIRACIES are NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Miriam’s skin turned white as snow from the leprosy. I can’t help but notice the poetic justice here (and perhaps even the humor of God). She got mad because Moses marries this dark-skinned woman from Ethiopia and God turns HER skin albino white!

After this rebellion, we read little else about Miriam in the Bible and her godly role. She did not enter the promised land, and was buried in the wilderness. Thus ended the life and ministry of this multi talented woman of faith and courage.

Here are some lessons from this story – (and what Miriam had to learn):

1. No position you hold is for ever. You might be reassigned.

2. Organizations change, leadership structures are reorganized, and new people enter the picture. Deal with it.

3. Just because you are in the inner circle at the beginning, doesn’t mean you own it. New people enter the picture. Again, deal with it.

4. What God is doing right now might “outgrow you” if you are not a flexible and growing person yourself – never become static or unyielding.

5. Rebellion and criticism are never acceptable, and you should be fearful of speaking against others.

6. Jealously will mess you up and will cause you to self-destruct.

7. Starting out well does not mean you will end well. You can lose your ministry and fall from God’s favor through this kind of sin.

8. Be careful what you complain about – you just might get more than you bargained for.

9. God sometimes uses poetic justice when He measures out chastisement.

10. As long as God wants Moses in position, no one can overthrow him.

This story, like so many others in the Bible are for our strength, encouragement, and warning.