2008-05-24 - Miriam's Fall
Exodus 15:21, "And Miriam answered them, 'Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.'"
The above verse, from Exodus 15, is Miriam's response to Israel crossing the Red Sea, while fleeing Egypt, and the concurrent destruction of Pharaoh and all his army, as they pursued Israel into the sea and it closing in on them. Miriam was the sister of Moses, who was the leader of Israel out of Egypt and their 40 years in the wilderness. We don't hear anything about her again until Numbers 12:1, where we read, "Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)." What they did, sister and brother of Moses, Miriam and Aaron, was use his marriage to a non-Israelite woman, while he was in exile from Egypt, as an excuse to revolt against him, and, as we see further in Numbers 12, against God. They suggested (12:2), even stated, that God could speak through them as well as Moses. It was a provocation, and the Lord took quick action. Miriam became a leper and Moses immediately cried out to the Lord to heal her, (12:10-14).
This story, and the history begun in Exodus 15 with Miriam praising God (She was a Prophetess), should be instructive to us in a couple of ways. Miriam and Aaron seek personal advancement. It seems that Miriam is primary in this, as she is named first, and also the one God punished. But who is Miriam? Miriam is one who had walked with God closely. She is one who had led the women in praising God. She held a high office in Israel. Yet in Numbers 12, she is made a leper in punishment for her actions. We can expect nothing good when we depart from the Lord. When God goes from us, evil comes to us. The experience of Miriam is a warning to us in our Christian walk. If Miriam is judged in such a harsh manner for speaking against Moses, what will be the result of our speaking or acting in a way that is displeasing or dishonoring to Jesus Christ? It is clearly a lesson to us.
We also see the intercession of Moses on behalf of his sister. He asks the Lord to heal her, (12:13). He was not angry with her for her transgression against him. His prayer for her, to God, shows that he forgave her. He could have simply determined that she got what she deserved and have been done with her. In this, he is a type of Christ. Christ is ever merciful to us who have transgressed and gone our own way. He offers forgiveness, mercy, and grace to us. He could have left us to ourselves, but He came to give Himself, as Atonement for our sin. Moses shows us a pattern of what Christ fulfilled in the fullest manner. Jesus Christ prays while on the cross, "Father forgive them," Luke 23:34. This is certainly a bursting completion of what we only see lightly represented in this passage with Moses. Moses prays for his sister, who questioned his authority. Jesus Christ prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross. He continues to pray for us. "He always lives to make intercession for them," Hebrews 7:25.
Soli Deo Gloria,