April 9, 2011
Moses: Close to Yahweh
Foolishness, Intercession and Forgiveness Today
“With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the LORD.”
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In Numbers 12, Yahweh has begun the exodus of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land. The journey will take forty years, because of the sinfulness of the people of Israel. Yahweh has appointed Moses to lead the people, and he has a brother Aaron and a sister Miriam. After Moses married a Cushite woman, Aaron and Miriam began to question the leadership of Moses. They said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?”
Moses, Aaron and Miriam. In Exodus 3:10, Yahweh called Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Moses complained that he was slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exodus 4:10). He asked that Yahweh appoint a spokesman, instead of Moses himself, to speak for God (Exodus 4:12-13). In anger over the little faith of Moses, Yahweh appointed Aaron to speak, but Moses would put the words in Aaron’s mouth as Moses received them from Yahweh (Exodus 4:15-17). Both Aaron and Moses knew where the words were coming from: Yahweh Himself. So, when we read in Numbers 12 that Aaron now thinks God speaks through him, Aaron forgets that God spoke through Moses and Moses gave Aaron the words. Aaron now needs reminding. Regarding Miriam, she was the sister of Aaron and a witness to the destruction of the army of Pharaoh in the Red Sea. After Moses sang a song of the victory, Miriam, a prophetess, also sang of the great victory: “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea” (Exodus 15:20-21).
Yahweh Confronts Aaron and Miriam. In Numbers 12:4-5, Yahweh summoned Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the tent of meeting. He came down in a cloud. He called Aaron and Miriam forward. I would have been quaking in my boots at that point. I had challenged the plan of God concerning Moses, and now God has called me out, to speak to me.
Yahweh Talks about Revelation. I know of no subject more misunderstood today than the doctrine of revelation from God. God does not speak through just anyone to provide His inspired word. He chooses the people who speak from Him. Be very carful of anyone who claims to be a prophet or prophetess. Aaron knew that he got God’s message from Moses and Miriam knew as a prophetess that her words also came from God. Compare for a moment 2 Peter 1:20-21: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Miriam, and every other prophet, did not speak their own thoughts or their own interpretation of events. No, but rather God spoke through them by the movement of the Holy Spirit working within them. In Numbers 12:6-8, Yahweh explained that Miriam, and all other prophets received their revelation from God in visions and dreams. But Yahweh spoke with Moses mouth to mouth, openly, and not in dark sayings. Notice too that Moses beheld the form (“תְמֻנַת”) of God. God said that Moses was faithful in all My household (Numbers 12:7; see also Hebrews 3:5).
Yahweh Gets Angry. Picking on spiritual leaders, by exalting themselves, made God’s anger burn (“וַיִּחַר-אַף”) against Aaron and Miriam. Sometimes family jealousy and rivalry constitutes very sinful behavior. In this case, Aaron and Miriam now face the living God burning in anger towards them. Moses never sought out the leadership position, but Yahweh spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:10-15). God told Moses about His memorial name to all generations: Yahweh (Exodus 3:15; Exodus 6:3-4, Yahweh is the special covenant name of God).
Miriam Gets Leprosy. After Yahweh’s anger burned, He left. When the cloud was withdrawn, Miriam was leprous (Numbers 12:10). Aaron knew exactly who to turn to for divine help: Moses, the very person he had just attacked. Now Aaron begs Moses for help.
The Value of Confession of Sin. Aaron immediately acknowledged his sinful criticism and challenge of God’s choice of Moses (Numbers 12:11). We do well when caught up in sin to stop, confess it to God, and seek divine help by encouraging our friends to intercede for us. Aaron turned to Moses, and asked for his help.
The Value of Praying for Your Friends. Moses immediately cried out to Yahweh. He prayed a simple prayer, that should serve as a model of clarity and directness: “O God, heal her, I pray.” We should get right to the point in our prayers. Following the same pattern we read about earlier in this passage, now Yahweh speaks to Moses directly: let Miriam stay outside the camp for seven days, just as if her father had spit in her face. So Miriam stayed outside the camp for seven days and was healed, and returned to the camp (Numbers 12:13-15).
So we learn that more about self-exaltation, foolishness, intercession and prayer today.
● When you find the urge within you to exalt yourself, and puff up yourself, remember Aaron and Miriam. They claimed they were the same as Moses, although both of them knew that Moses had a special relationship with God.
● When you have acted foolishly, and have sinned seriously, seek out your spiritual friend you have sinned against, and ask them to intercede for you.
● We hinder our spiritual growth when we exalt ourselves, and need to remember that God exalts some, while humbling others, according to His good pleasure.
Application for Today
Remember the value of forgiveness and intercession by your spiritual friends today. If you find yourself having acted foolishly, God still loves you always. Your spiritual friends need you today, no matter how you have acted. Set things right with your spiritual friends, ask for their intercession, and seek God with humility today.