Songs and Praise



Numbers 12:1 16;

Lesson 100 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they "watch for your souls, as they that must give account" (Hebrews 13:17).

I The Rebellion of Miriam and Aaron and God's Defense of Moses

Miriam and Aaron, motivated by jealous envy, spoke against Moses, exhibiting their true spirit of self  exaltation and lust for worldly power, Numbers 12:1, 2; Proverbs 25:6, 7; Isaiah 14:12 15; Obadiah 4; Matthew 23:12 The Lord heard their words of pride and rebellion, Numbers 12:2; I Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:9, 10 The character of Moses was of a quality that would itself automatically deny every one of the charges made against him, Numbers 12: 3; Galatians 5:22, 23; 1 Peter 3:4; Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:10, 11 God vindicated His servant, Moses, in the presence of the accusers and told them of the close relationship He had with Moses, more than with any other living person, Numbers 12:4-9; Psalm 76:8, 9; Deuteronomy 34:10-12

II The Punishment of the Sin

God's anger was kindled against the rebels, Numbers 12:9; Amos 9:2-4 A severe punishment was meted out: leprosy upon Miriam, and the consequent remorseful knowledge in Aaron's heart that their sin had caused this disgraceful condition, Numbers 12:10; Leviticus 13:38-46; Psalm 75:6, 7 Aaron interceded for his sister's healing and their forgiveness, Numbers 12:11, 12 Moses prayed an effectual prayer for Miriam's healing, Numbers 12:13; Ezekiel 33:14-16; James 5:14-16 Even though the offenders were healed and restored to a measure of God's favor, there remained a certain penalty, or self inflicted consequence of their misdeed, upon them, not only because of the gravity of their sin but also for the example they would be to others, Numbers 12:14; Leviticus 14:1-57 The people of God were hindered in their march to the Promised Land by the sin of these who rebelled against God's leader, Numbers 12:15, 16; Joshua 7:10-12; Isaiah 59:12


A Prophet Without Honor

The disgraceful rebellion of the Children of Israel had just been and the encampment had moved when the incidents recorded in the text of our present lesson took place. Moses had often heard the Israelites, as a group, murmur against him and Aaron and against the Lord, because of the difficulties encountered. But now he experienced a different and far more cutting form of criticism, a criticism more stinging because of the fact that its authors were those near and dear to him.


The former rebellions and murmurings began in the edges of the camp, among the mixed multitude and those who were not living close to God. These people, possibly, did not see God's workings in the unmistakably plain manner that many in Israel witnessed, because they did not especially frequent the inner circle where God's power dwelt. It is easy to see that such could find it in their hearts to complain of their lot and then inject the virus of their dissatisfaction into others. It is easy to see how that scourge would travel throughout the camp and cause a rebellion. But this incident did not begin in the outskirts of the camp, nor owe its inception to the mixed multitude. It began in the nearest persons, officially, to Moses. It began with those who supposedly were united with their faithful leader, heart and soul, and who shared with him the common interest of the welfare of the Israelites.


Jesus endeavored to tell those among whom He was reared, those of His own station in life prior to the inauguration of His official ministry, the way of eternal life, but almost every effort He put forth was repulsed. He left behind Him at Nazareth the stinging rebuke that 'a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house' (Matthew 13:57).


However, the conditions facing Moses were not alone the refusal of those of his own house to see and recognize his prophetic call and authoritative commission. Miriam and Aaron admitted that Moses had all these; but, in that insidiously working and eventually damning sin of pride which we classify as self  exaltation, they insisted that they, too, were called and commissioned by God.


'All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world' (I John 2:16). The jealous envy that prompts men to seek after position and place in the world of men, in temporal affairs, or even in the work of the church, originates in the pride that is in their hearts and its desire to exalt their own selves. Those people who are in any way whatsoever motivated by the desire for their own self  exaltation stand condemned by the words of Jesus; for He said, 'Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted' (Matthew 23:12).

The Watchful Eye and Attentive Ear

But the actions and intents of this rebellious pair did not go unnoticed. A scriptural phrase that might possibly escape the particular notice of a casual reader tells us that God heard their words. And when God hears an accusation made against His duly anointed and commissioned servants He takes notice of it and brings judgment upon the off ender, that the wrongdoer might repent of his sin and that the name of God might not be dishonored or His authority challenged.


'For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him' (II Chronicles 16:9); and the strength thus shown can only confuse and confound the one who would dare to oppose the person whose heart is perfect toward God. There is no escape from God! He knows every heart and sees its deep dwelling purpose. He hears all that is said and observes all that is done.


How vain is man's attempt to hide from the all seeing eye of God! The eye that penetrated the Edenic canopy, and saw sin lurking in the hearts of Adam and Eve there, can still penetrate every device that man erects to conceal his true, sinful condition. 'Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched opt arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: . . . great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings' (Jeremiah 32:17, 19).

The Accusation and Its Consequences

Sin always excuses itself, putting out in front of its black character a more welcome front or plausible excuse. In this case the real sin was that of pride, self exaltation, rebellion, and insubordination. But the accusation that was first brought was apparently none of these, but concerned the wife of Moses. The flimsy charge was chosen as the occasion for the rebellion, but the envy and pride rankling in the hearts of those who rebelled was really the cause of the insubordination. They wanted the power and worldly prestige they imagined would go with the position of joint leadership of so great a nation as Israel.


Nothing produces hotter disputes among men than jealousy of power or authority. Natural affection, honor, pleasure, profit, duty, and safety, to say nothing of the assurance of God's smile and approval given those who fear Him, are all trampled under foot when men strive for the grandeur of power and the authority to rule. This incident urges us to examine closely our own souls; for if those of such qualifications, privileges, and calling, as Miriam's and Aaron's, were capable of such sin, we cannot allow ourselves to feel that we are free from that danger.


It is thought that because Miriam's name is mentioned first and because she alone was stricken with the leprosy that she was the instigator of the rebellion and the prime mover in the revolt. Some say that Aaron was characteristically pliant and unstable and was led by his misjudging sister into the act that tarnished his name as well as hers. We do know that the Lord was angry with both, so we know both were guilty before Him. Miriam was stricken with a loathsome, ghastly malady, for which they knew no cure and which banned its victim from all association with loved ones and friends. But Aaron did not totally escape punishment.


The filial bonds were strong in the family of Amram and Jochebed. The young daughter, Miriam, had stood through the burning heat of the Egyptian day to watch an ark of bulrushes that held her tiny brother, Moses, who was supposed to have been killed but who had been spared by the parents. She met the daughter of Pharaoh when the ark was found, and tactfully suggested that a nurse be selected from the Israelitish women to care for the child until it reached maturity. She had later led the women of the Israelites in the singing of the choral response to the song of Moses at the crossing of the Red Sea. She had stood with her brother, many times, in difficulties and emergencies when it seemed that the cause of God was all but lost.


Aaron, too, had exhibited some remarkable traits of character in spite of the weakness that seemed to be inherent within him. He had lived close enough to God to be able to hear the whispered instructions that sent him on a journey of scores of miles from the security of Egypt, through the uncertainty of the wilderness, to an unparalleled meeting with Moses, whom he had not seen nor heard from for 40 years, so far as we are told. He was trusted by God with the important responsibility of voicing the divine edicts in the court of a despotic earthly ruler. He had physical and spiritual qualifications that God knew He could appropriate and use as He chose. And, finally, Aaron was a type of the Mediator who was to take the case of every repentant sinner before the Great Tribunal and plead for his pardon, having purchased that pardon with His own innocent Blood.


It can go without saying that to punish Aaron it was not necessary for God to strike him with a disease that would render him useless for the official position. to which he had been called. The sight of a devoted sister covered with that flesh consuming infection, and the realization that, officially, he must be the one to say the words that would bar her from the camp of Israel forever, was a severe punishment in itself. Many times the sight of a loved one suffering agony and pain is more difficult to bear than the actual suffering itself would be. How often the prayer has been heard that has asked the transfer of an infirmity to the healthy onlooker because of the anxiety that seems to be unbearable when a loved one lies in the grip of some anguish or distress.

God's Vindication and Man's Accusation

The highest testimony of the official pre eminence of Moses over any person living in his time came in consequence of this assault made upon him. There is comfort for the victims of unjust accusation in this incident. God will be their defense if they will, like Moses, retain the spirit of meekness that never raises its hand or voice in self  defense. But there is also a warning to those who would allow the satanic power of envy to take possession of their reason and voice. God hears their words and remembers their thoughts. He will some day confront them with His sudden and sure judgment.


It has been said by atheistic critics of the Bible that the statement regarding the meekness of Moses is definite proof of the fact that the Bible is not divinely inspired. They argue that if Moses wrote the Book of Numbers he could not possibly have made this statement about himself, because the very fact of its inclusion would prove that he was not a meek man. But this is no difficulty to the believer. To him this statement is no self eulogy inspired by vanity. It is a simple, truthful portrayal of personal character that is necessary to the proper understanding of the lesson. It was not prompted by self love, but was inspired and dictated by the Spirit of God under whose influence Moses wrote when he penned these glorious chapters.


How many times Moses had sought God's honor rather than personal glory or fame! At one time he could have accepted the edict of God that would have exterminated the whole nation of the Israelites and made another from his own line. He could have failed to intercede the many times he did when he fasted and prayed until his strength must have temporarily departed from him, and could have seen the just judgment of God meted out upon a murmuring, complaining, and unthankful people, But he proved again and again that he was a faithful shepherd of the tribes of Israel. He demonstrated over and over that his supreme interest and desire was to see God honored and the Holy Name revered. His was true meekness! His was true humility! His was true leadership and intercession! He was the prophet that prefigured another Prophet, who came in the fullness of time and who received a testimonial from the highest Heaven of His divinity and authority on the Mount of Transfiguration.


This incident in the account of the wilderness wanderings teaches us the solemn fact that even in the heart of a 'Miriam' and an 'Aaron' can be cradled the terrible seeds of envy and jealousy that would, if allowed to remain and grow, finally dare to speak out against the most carefully chosen of God's anointed men and women. God save us from the treacherous workings of that terrible sin!


1 What was the name of Moses' wife?

2 Give the names of Moses' father, mother, sister, and brother. 3 What was the first accusation brought against Moses?

4 What was the final, and real, charge that was laid against him at this time?

5 Who apparently was the leader in this revolt?

6 Quote the famous verse in our lesson that speaks of the character of godly Moses.

7 Quote other verses from the Bible that tell the ultimate rewards of the person having this quality which was found so abundantly in Moses.
8 What difference was there in the matter of revelation as given to Moses and to the others who have prophesied in God's name?

9 What was God's attitude toward the rebels?
10 How was the sin punished?

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