THE HUMBLE HEART
Lord, teach me to remember my place.
Read NUMBERS 12:1–16
Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.
16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.
a Numbers 12:10 The Hebrew for leprous was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“This is what the high and exalted One says… ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit’” (Isa. 57:15).
Yesterday we reminded ourselves that when we approach God in prayer we should do so with humility. If we want to cite a biblical example, then this passage—along with Moses himself, “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (3)—is one. Because of this, Moses enjoys an intimacy with the Lord that is unique. Operating as God’s mouthpiece is a privilege in and of itself, but Moses knows something far closer. He is judged faithful in all that God has given him to do, so God speaks to him plainly and reveals himself more fully than to any other. What verdict would the Lord offer about your attitude? How close is your fellowship with him as a result?
An intimate walk with God always brings the enmity of the world—and sometimes even that of some of God’s people. Miriam and Aaron, who should be solidly behind their brother Moses, instead oppose him. Their complaint about their sister-in-law (1) hides a covetous heart which brings God’s anger upon them, particularly upon Miriam who seems, by virtue of her name being mentioned first and by the severity of the punishment she suffers, to be the main instigator. Whereas Moses enjoys close fellowship with the Lord, Miriam’s newly acquired leprosy excludes her from the camp—separation from God. Are you ever bitter over the calling God gives to others? If so, ask for forgiveness today.
That any of us can ever know fellowship with God owes to the finished work of the Lord Jesus. The writer of Hebrews might have had this passage in mind as he compares Moses, “faithful in all God’s house” (7) with Christ “the Son over God’s house” (Heb. 3:6). We must hold fast and rejoice, even to the end.
What do you make of the fact that Jesus himself points us to his humility and gentleness (Matt. 11:29)?
Lord, we perceive the treacherous waters into which jealousy can lead us, and we pray for grace to avoid it.
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