Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
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. 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, 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. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 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?”
The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
– Numbers 12:1-9
I had just listened to Tim Holman (beard with a blog) one morning this week. He had recorded a little message on video about evangelism not being comfortable, entitled “Safety Not Guaranteed”. In it, he talked of Simon Peter’s reluctance, and fear, of going to the home of Cornelius. After all, Cornelius was a Roman, a Centurion, master of one hundred Roman soldiers, and Roman soldiers oppressed the Jews. He also mentioned Ananias’ fear and reluctance of going to Saul. After all, Saul had come to Damascus to torture and kill the Christians there. Whether racist or simply prejudiced, they had their reasons for reluctance and fear. Yet, each obeyed God. They went and shared the Gospel.
And then, immediately after Tim’s video, I read Numbers 12, my daily Bible reading. The Scripture above is followed by the cloud lifting, and they found Miriam leprous. Aaron pleaded for his sister. She was healed, but she had to stay outside the camp for seven days as per the instructions in Leviticus. And all because Moses had married a Cushite? Rebelling against Moses over marrying the ‘wrong’ kind of person?
Zipporah was the daughter of Reuel, a Midian priest (Exodus 2). Midian was a son of Abraham by his second wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2), thus a descendant of Shem, son of Noah, and cousins of the Israelites. But Cush was a son of Ham, son of Noah. Cush was the brother of another son of Ham, Egypt, just to name one. From this crisscross reference, we get the idea that Zipporah was of mixed race.
I hate the racist label. Okay, I hate labels. We are all racist, or at least prejudiced, at some point in our lives. We experience some wrong, usually as the victim of the wrong, and we jump to an illogical, and lazy, conclusion. We make a snap decision that we later regret once we have more facts. Okay, some people never regret the decision, but that’s another story for another day. The thing is that we often say something or react physically to an encounter that is counter to what we really are inside. Yet, people love placing labels that never seem to go away.
My wife is Eurasian. Her mother was Eurasian. She had a French sounding family name (possibly French or Belgian ancestry, along with Dutch), but she also had a Chinese ancestor and one ancestor who was once a princess on the island of Bali. Her father was Dutch, with a German mother. There was a little gypsy blood in there as well. I’ve said it before, my wife is exotic.
When I announced our engagement, there was a backlash from members of my family (not saying we are of a pure racial line). Some people in the family were vocal about not wanting half-breed children running around the family estate. “What would they look like!?” Hmmm. They might just look normal?
But that’s enough of that. Racial prejudice just started the gossip in Numbers 12. God emphatically ended the gossip.
It made no difference who Moses was married to. Prophets hear from God through visions and dreams. Moses talked to God intimately, one friend to another.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the others (who all came later) saw visions and dreamed dreams. In those books of the Bible, you get the idea that they also had conversations with God, at times with the conversation recorded.
But God makes that distinction about Moses. Moses had a relationship with God.
That makes me think. I know people who have had visions. I know people that dream dreams and can recite the details of the dream the next day. But those people also have a personal relationship with Jesus.
It is not just enough to have read the Bible and accept the statements in the Bible to be historically accurate. Saying the ‘magic words’, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” isn’t enough either if the words do not reflect what is in your heart. God says in the statement of the second of the Ten Commandments, “I am a jealous God.” God doesn’t want us to accept His existence and then go on our merry way. God wants a relationship with us. What was reserved for Moses, and a few others, during the time of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, is now available for us, with the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We can call upon the Holy Spirit to give us power. Sure. We can gain understanding from the Holy Spirit. Great, I learn something new every time I read through the Bible again and again.
But have you ever just sat down and had a conversation with God? Just talk? You might unburden your heart of what is bothering you, but then your mind just wanders. And before you know it, new thoughts are popping into your head. New insights arise. Something reminds you of a Bible verse that you once read (or more often than once), possibly without any meaning to you at the time of reading it. You go to a search engine, concordance, or topical reference to find the illusive Bible verse. You read the entire chapter to get that verse in context. And voila! You have just been given a nugget of that power and understanding. Or maybe you have just discovered an area of sin in your life that needs a bit of cleaning. Or maybe the Bible verse reminds you of an old friend that you haven’t talked to in a while. You don’t know what God will ‘say’ to you until you start the conversation.
Whatever you discover when the Holy Spirit speaks, you gain and grow as a result. Maybe you’ll even grow in strength enough to share that nugget with others and help them grow in faith or bring them one more step toward having faith in our loving Savior.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.