Consider this before you speak your mind

Published 12:55 pm Saturday, October 28, 2023

By Rev. TA Mathews

They were both strong women, and that’s probably what caused their feud. Before it was over, one would lose everything—her family, her home, her health. 

In truth, that feud was an excuse for something much deeper. Jealousy.

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The two women were sisters-in-law. One woman had married the other woman’s brother. That man is described in the Bible as the “meekest man on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)

Sound familiar? Know who he was? Take a guess:

a.) Samson

b.) Solomon

c.) Moses

d.) Joseph

Perhaps this will surprise you — the man was Moses.

Moses was not the brash, outspoken leader you see in movies. Hollywood scriptwriters might have missed a verse or two. Yes, the passage in Numbers, but remember when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush? He asked Moses to speak for Him, but Moses was timid, saying that he couldn’t do it. So, God relented and sent Aaron to help him. (Exodus 3 and 4)

The two women were Miriam, Moses’ sister, and his wife, Zipporah.

Remember Miriam?

Oh, I bet you do — she’s the little girl who was sent to watch over baby Moses, who had been placed in a basket in the Nile. That was eighty years before Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves leave Egypt. (Exodus 7:7)

Miriam became a prophetess in the wilderness. But, one day, Miriam spoke out against her brother for marrying a “Cushite” woman. It’s true, God’s people were supposed to marry within the Israelite faith.

Many believe the Cushite woman was Moses’ second wife. His first wife was Zipporah, whom he had married after he had fled to Egypt the first time, after murdering an Egyptian. (Exodus 2:11-15)

But the prophet Habakkuk suggests that Midian and Cush were the same place. So, the Cushite woman could have been Zipporah. (Habakkuk 3:7)

Either way, the resentment Miriam had for Moses’ wife was the same — neither was an Israelite. In fact, you may remember that Zipporah almost got Moses killed when she objected to their son being circumcised — a must-do with God for the Israelites. (Exodus 4:24-26)

So, apparently, Miriam started a fuss over her sister-in-law and used Scripture to support her fight. Miriam basically decided that she was the one better fit to lead God’s people. She brought younger brother Aaron along in her grab for power.

She said to the people, “Has the Lord spoken only to Moses? Hasn’t He spoken to us as well?” (Numbers 12:1-2)

God wasn’t having it. He immediately said, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” (Numbers 12:4)

The Lord then came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent. He asked Aaron and Miriam to come forward.

“When there is a prophet among you,” God said, “I make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses … I speak mouth to mouth … and he beholds the form of the Lord.” God wasn’t finished. “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8)

Scripture says the Lord was furious with the two and left. But as the pillar of cloud lifted over the tent, Miriam was leprous like snow — a disease that would eat away her flesh.

What did Moses say to God? Remember, she was trying to replace him.

1.  “Please heal her.”

2.  “Thank you for defending me.”

3.   “What will you do to Aaron?”

4.   None of the above.

Lock in you answer, and I’ll show you more about Moses.

Scripture says Moses cried out, “Please, God, heal her.” (Numbers 12:13) The correct answer is No. 1.

God listened to Moses, but He decided that Miriam needed to be punished. She was shut out of the camp for seven days. And, I’ll tell you, she didn’t check into the Marriott. Those were seven cold, hungry, scary days. Finally, she was healed and brought back.

Everyone who aspires to leadership in the church should remember the lesson in this story: Be careful.

Be very careful what you decide Scripture says, what you decide God wants, what you push forward in your church. Be careful lest you bring the wrath of God down upon you.

Knowing what God wants means prayer and waiting for His leading. Otherwise, you may find yourself in Miriam’s shoes — fighting against God.