About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 12

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Miriam And Aaron Oppose Moses (ch. 12:1 - 16)


We see Miriam mentioned here in verse 1.  She is Moses' and Aaron's sister.  


The Cushite wife that is mentioned in verse 1 is Zipporah.  She was Moses' first wife.  He met her when he escaped Egypt after killing an Egyptian man.  Her and Moses disputed over circumcising their son and the dispute was so bad that Moses sent her back to her father.  They were subsequently reunited, but for how long we do not know.


We don't know what problem Miriam and Aaron would have had over Zipporah other than she wasn't a Jew.  Somehow this was a springboard to get to the thing they really wanted to complain about and that was Moses' leadership.


Verse 2 tells us that the Lord heard Miriam and Aaron complaining about Moses.  What we often forget is that the Lord hears and sees all things that we do, say, and even think.  We can't hide anything from Him.  We don't really understand this, because if we did, our lives would be altogether different than what they are.  On the other hand, humanity doesn't really have the capability to change.


Notice that verse 3 in the NIV is in brackets.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First of all, most all Evangelical scholars believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah.  Also, scholars point out the nature of the book of numbers.  It is not in any real chronological order.  It is simply a number of different events and laws that appear to have been written, maybe at a later period, or written at more than one time period, and, probably edited by someone else.  This verse could have been easily inserted in an edited copy because of its nature and that it is written in the third person, that is to say, someone wrote these words about Moses.   He did not write them about himself or else he would have worded it differently, or else not have even mentioned it.


Nevertheless, the text states that Moses is a humble man.  I believe this humility is due directly because of the access he had with Yahweh.  He was in the presence of God so often, he could be nothing more than  humble.  Being in God's presence shows the sinfulness of man.  No one can stand in his presence without being humbled.  I would say that the more a person demonstrates a tendency towards pride or arrogance would mean that He has not been touched by the presence of God.  When we are touched by God's presence, it knocks the pride out of our system.  


In verses 4 and 5 God summoned Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, to the tent of the Meeting to talk with them.  What He says is seen in verses 6 through 8.  In short, God says that concerning prophets, He speaks to them in visions and dreams, but not so with Moses.  Moses was a prophet, but he was more than a prophet.  God says that He speaks to Moses "face to face" and not in riddles.  Moses has a very special relationship with God that few have had throughout history.  Moses is more than an ordinary prophet.  He has a special ministry.  This is another reason why Bible teachers feel that Moses is a type of Jesus.  He spoke face to face with God as Jesus did.  Many times God spoke to and through prophets in obscure ways that even the prophets most likely didn't understand.  This wasn't so with Moses. 


Note the text states that Moses saw the form of God.  I believe the form of God was the cloud that God appeared in.  I don't believe that Moses saw the face of God, even though they spoke "face to face".  The words "face to face" is an idiom to state the fact that God spoke directly to Moses in easy to understand words.   


Many people have asked if Moses really saw God.  I don't believe he did.  In verse 8 God says that Moses saw "a form of God".  God produced some kind of visible form for Moses to see.  He often spoke to Moses from a cloud.  Jesus, in John 7:24 says that God is spirit.  Jesus, in John 1:18 says that no one has ever seen God accept He Himself.  Moses only saw a form of God, not God as He really is.  He did however hear His voice.  Even at hearing God's voice, God may not have a voice like you and I.  When God speaks verbally to a human, He might well speak in human terms, not in his own terms.  Any time God communicates with humanity, He must do it is a way in which we are able to understand.  The simple fact is that God is a spirit.  He is not human.      


In verse 9, note that God's "anger burned against" Miriam and Aaron.  I have said this over and over, but God does get angry.  With the insertion of the word "burned" we must realize that God is not just a little angry.  He is exceedingly angry.  Despite popular opinion, God does get angry.  You see this over and over again in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.   The anger and wrath of God is not an Old Testament thing only.


In verse 10 God leaves and suddenly Miriam is full of leprosy.  She had been judged by God Almighty.  Leprosy was one of those diseases that if people had they would be cut off from the general population. 


Miriam was cursed by God but Aaron wasn't.  Some might ask, "why"?   It appears to me that she was the instigator of this particular rebellion.  Aaron went along with her.  This is yet another example of why some Bible teachers think Aaron was a weak-willed man.  He just went along with things, whether good or bad. 


In verses 11 and 12 Aaron pleads with Moses that he would not hold this sin against them.  Well, it was not Moses than caused the leprosy to come on Miriam.  It was God.  Aaron should have pled his case with God, although, since Moses was His representative, Aaron pled with Moses.


Note what Aaron compares leprosy to.  He compares it to a still birth, a baby born dead.  This is exactly how people viewed those with leprosy.  The diseased person might as well be dead.  He was dead in relation to the community in which he lived.  He was cut off from the community. 


Moses heard Aaron out, so in verse 13, Moses goes before God to intercede on behalf of Miriam.  One major part of Moses' ministry was intercession on behalf  of God's people.  We've seen that over and over again. 


I've said many times before that the life of Moses is prophetic of Jesus.  He is a type of Jesus.  Jesus stands before God at all times interceding on our behalf, just as Moses did back then.  We still need Jesus' intercessory prayers to God even though we are saved because we all still sin.


The apostle Paul often speaks of intercessory prayer.  This is very important for the modern church but it is something we don't see much of. 


I've said this before as well, but all of the intercessory prayer that Moses prayed was for God's people.  As a matter of fact, that is what intercessory prayer is for.  It's for God's people, not just for our nations, and not just for the sinner.


If you read the book of Hebrews you will note that one of its themes is that Jesus is our Great High Priest, and He is this throughout eternity.  That means that even in eternity in the future, for some reason, we will still need a priest to represent us to God.   


From verse 14 to the end of this chapter we see that God told Moses to send Miriam outside of the camp for seven days.  The text does not say it, but it seems to be implied, but it appears that Miriam got better after the seven days.


In verse 14 note what God says.  He says that if Miriam's father spit in her eye, wouldn't she be disgraced.  This sounds like a weird thing for God to say, but it does show the comparison between leprosy and spitting in someone's eyes.  Both were a matter of disgrace back then in all cultures.  This reminds me of the time Jesus used his spit to heal the man who was blind.  Jesus used a disgraceful action to do something good.  

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