Crisis of Authority
Faithful God, I trust in You. No problem is too small for Your concern, no perplexity too great to resist Your solution.
Read NUMBERS 12:1-16
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Contrast the response of John the Baptist to the leadership of Jesus with Miriam and Aaron’s response to the leadership of Moses (cf. John 4:30).
Have you ever questioned a leader’s authority? If so, you will have some empathy with Miriam and Aaron. Or was there an occasion when the boot was on the other foot and your authority was questioned? If so, you can readily imagine Moses’ emotions when challenged by his siblings. Spiritual leadership is charismatic as well as positional, so it is sometimes open to challenge.
Miriam seems to have been the instigator of the challenge to her younger brother. The reference to Moses’ “Cushite wife” is enigmatic. This may be Zipporah, daughter of the “priest of Midian,” whom Moses married shortly after fleeing from Egypt (Exod. 2:15-22,25). Cushan was possibly an alternative name for Midian (Hab. 3:7). Earlier, Moses had followed the advice of Zipporah’s father, Jethro (or Reuel), to delegate the administration of justice to “capable men from all Israel” (Exod. 18:13-26). Perhaps Miriam and Aaron felt marginalized by this increase in the leadership team. If so, the recent additional appointment of 70 elders (Num. 11:24-30) must have aggravated any sense of grievance. Possibly the arrival of Hobab, Zipporah’s brother (Num. 10:29-32), reminded Aaron and Miriam that the diminution of their influence was initiated by Zipporah’s family.
Be that as it may, there are lessons for us in the way Moses handled this challenge. He doesn’t bang the table, saying, “I’m God’s man for the job.” He doesn’t attempt to hang on to power at all costs. Rather, he defers judgment to the Lord. His trust is rewarded, for the Lord makes Moses’ unique leadership role crystal clear to his siblings and, indeed, to all Israel (6-8). In this, Moses demonstrates humility (3), which, in fact, is the opposite of weakness! He is also magnanimous, praying for his sister that she might be restored to health and fellowship. Strong spiritual leaders still respond in humility and mercy to those who challenge them.
Do you like to serve or be served? How can you develop (or increase) a servant heart?
Gracious Lord, Your life, teaching, and death model serving others. I need an infusion of Your grace to embrace Your example.
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