“And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.” Ex. 2:4.
Yes, this week’s journey is through Numbers, but God chose this nameless child of the yet nameless baby to play a part in Israel’s history, and her story starts in Exodus. Her brother Aaron would be Moses’ mouth to Pharaoh and Miriam would be the woman behind the man…most of the time. They were the trio of God to the fledgling nation of Israel.
“For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants: and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Micah 6:4.
Miriam, like all of us, has an example to follow and a failure to flee. Scripture introduces her standing by the river, out of sight but watching over her baby brother who was doomed under Pharaoh’s edict to murder the baby boys. We don’t’ know how long she watched and waited. We do know she stayed until her brother was back safe in his mother’s arms and free from Pharaoh’s threat.
“His lord said unto him,Well done, thou good and faithful servant: Thou has been faithful over a few things,I will make thee ruler over many things: Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”Matt. 25:21
The next time Miriam comes on scripture’s stage, approximately eighty years have come and gone. Israel has passed through the Red Sea, Moses sang the Lord’s victory song, and Miriam leads the women in worship.
“And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Ex. 15:20,21.
This scripture reveals the call of the Lord on Miriam to speak His message. This passage indicates to the women, as she freely exalts the Lord in worship. And as an older woman she is faithfully leading the younger women.
It’s only been a little more than a year since Miriam joined in the victory song, when scripture shows a root of bitterness planted in Miriam’s heart.
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married…And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” Numb. 12:1,2.
I want to make excuses for Miriam. She is surrounded by a multitude of grumbling. She is getting up there in years. But there is no excuse that satisfies the Lord.
“…wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? Num. 12:8
The promised land loomed ahead ready for the taking but for Miriam it would be a distant dream she could not know, for sin had entered her heart.
Bitterness: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Heb. 12:13,14.
Jealousy & Self exaltation : “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another…For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (Gal. 5:26; James 3:16; James 4:10).
Disobedience: “Let no main deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” Eph. 5:6,7).
“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them: and he departed.” Numb. 12:9.
Sin reaped its harvest in Miriam. “…and behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow…”
Sin breaks fellowship with the Father and other believers: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1John 1:6,7.
Sin brings shame: “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” Prov. 29:23.
Sin brings the Lord’s chastisement: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore; but he hath not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.” Ps. 118:17-20.
The Lord opens the gates of righteousness, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9.
The good news, the Lord restored Miriam after seven days of separation. The bad news, for seven days the people did not journey towards their promise. And finally we see in chapter 20, Miriam dies without entering the abundance of the promised land.
She left us with many good lessons to follow, including a hard lesson to encourage us to flee sin.
“He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings…But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1Tim. 6:4,11,12.
For Comment: What do you admire most about Miriam? What woman in scripture do you identify with? What woman in your life has served as a good witness of a godly woman?