Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XI - Missing God's Blessing By Sinfully Criticizing God's Overseers
(Numbers 12:1-16)
  1. Introduction
    1. Criticism of God's assigned leaders is sometimes all too easy to do, but it is very offensive to God.
    2. God gave a significant lesson on this issue when Miriam and Aaron unjustly criticized Moses:
  2. Missing God's Blessing By Sinfully Criticizing God's Overseers, Numbers 12:1-16.
    1. Miriam led Aaron in making a critical remark about Moses apparently in a public way before the nation of Israel: as the verb translated "spake" in the KJV is "feminine singular," Miriam led Aaron in making this critical remark, Numbers 12:1a.
    2. The cause of this criticism was jealousy on their part for Moses' marriage to a Cushite woman of apparent high social rank; this woman's rank was perceived by Miriam as a threat to her influence in Israel as the sister of Israel's human leader, Moses, cf. Num. 12:1b; Bible Knowledge Com., Old Testament, p. 228.
    3. The criticism itself undermined Moses' authority as God's main leader before the nation, Numbers 12:2:
      1. Miriam had led the women in Israel under God's empowering as a prophetess in a song of praise to God following God's deliverance of the nation, Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21).
      2. Also, Aaron had been Moses' spokesperson even under God's assignment, cf. Exodus 4:14-16.
      3. Armed with these facts, Miriam led Aaron to downplay Moses' role as God's main leader, Num. 12:2.
    4. In reality, Moses was very Nonassertive as Miriam and Aaron had been, for he was the meekest man alive apparently due to the crushing events he had experienced prior to his appointment by God as Israel's leader, Num. 12:3 with Exodus 4:1, 10, 13. We can believe that this criticism was too sharp for the "meek" Moses to handle, considering that it came from his siblings, Miriam and Aaron (Ex. 4:14; 14:20)
    5. Since the criticism was apparently TOO OVERWHELMING for the "meek" Moses to handle as it came from his SIBLINGS, and as it contradicted GOD'S appointment, and thus became a criticism of GOD, GOD immediately and appropriately disciplined Miriam and Aaron in Moses' presence:
      1. God immediately intervened to call Moses with his critics, Miriam and Aaron to the tabernacle, 12:4.
      2. Once the three were there, with Moses being a witness, God descended in His glorious, cloudy pillar and called to Miriam and Aaron to address them in particular in Moses' hearing, Numbers 12:5-6a.
      3. God basically clarified to all three that He had chosen to speak with Moses on a higher level of intimacy than he had with any other human being, including Miriam and Aaron, Numbers 12:6b-8a.
      4. Hence, God asked Miriam and Aaron why they had felt free to criticize Moses for his privilege of leadership in Israel, for Moses' station was God's appointment, Num. 12:8b.
      5. As there was no adequate answer from Miriam and Aaron, God's anger was inflamed against them. As His cloud lifted up from them, Miriam, the main critic, was stuck with the disease of leprosy, 12:9-10.
    6. At this, Aaron repented and begged Moses' forgiveness for his and his sister, Miriam's sin, 12:11-12.
    7. Moses graciously cried out to the Lord in intercession for Miriam's restoration to health, Numbers 12:13.
    8. God replied to Moses that if an earthly father were to discipline a rebellious daughter, he would have spit in her face in contempt, making her publicly humiliated in thus being ceremonially unclean for 7 days, 12:14a. Hence, God disciplined Miriam to be shut out of the camp of Israel for seven days of punishment in public humiliation before she could be restored to fellowship with the rest of the people, Num. 12:14b.
    9. Thus, Miriam was cleansed from her humiliating disease after being publicly humiliated as would a disciplined daughter for her rebellious criticism of Moses' public leadership assignment, 12:15-16.
Lesson: (1) Demeaning public criticism of an overseer is SIN, for (a) an overseer is set up by GOD in an assigned function, making such criticism a criticism of GOD who set him up. Also, (b) demeaning public criticism sinfully HURTS the criticized overseer -- it should NOT be done! (2) If we are in an oversight role are unjustly publicly criticized by words to painful personally to handle, we must LET GOD handle it -- that is HIS business just as our oversight role is! (3) May we ALL learn to be MEEK enough to be SATISFIED with obeying the Lord and with accepting our lot and the lot of other believers around us so as not to fall prey to the sin of godless criticism Miriam and Aaron practiced!