Summary: Ten lessons about criticism
A. BE CAREFUL WHO AND WHAT YOU CRITICIZE: NUMBERS 12:1-16
1. Is this a family squabble? “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses” (12:1). They were Moses’ older sister and brother.
2. Were they influenced by public opinion? “When the people complained” (11:1).
3. Can people in high spiritual offices complain about their leaders? Miriam a prophetess (Ex. 15:20) and Aaron the nation’s high priest.
4. Miriam was the ring leader.
a. The verb “spoke against” (12:1) is feminine.
b. She received the most serious judgment.
5. What motivated their sin of criticism?
a. Envy. They wanted Moses’ position.
b. Jealousy. They wanted the power of Moses’ results.
c. Family strife. They were older.
d. Racism. They pointed out her ethnic background. “Criticized Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman” (12:1, ELT).
e. Sin misleads. Was the ethnic slur a cover up for their selfish lust for power, or the reverse?
B. THE FOCUS ON MOSES
1. Did Moses violate a Jewish commandment against intermarriage? “Take heed . . . lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants . . . take of their daughters . . . go a whoring after their gods” (Ex. 34:12-16).
2. Could she have been “saved” out of the Egyptians who came with Israel?
3. Was she a Cushite (Hebrew term in verse 1), a tribe permissible for Israel to marry?
4. Was she a second wife along with Zipporah, hence the criticism?
5. Did Zipporah die and Moses remarry? “He had married” (12:1).
6. Critics say Moses didn’t write it because of the anti-humility statement. “Now . . . Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (12:3). The world says, “If you think you are humble, you are not.”
7. The opposite is true: if Moses was indeed that meek, he would not presume to make such a claim, unless he was inspired by the Lord to write it.
8. God elevated Moses to the level of Abraham.
a. Abraham my friend (Is. 41:8).
b. Moses my servant (Num. 12:7)
c. David my king (1 Sam. 21:11).
C. GOD’S JUDGEMENT ON CRITICISM
1. Watch your mouth. “The Lord heard it” (12:1).
2. Are these the sins God hates most? “These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him, (1) a proud look . . . (7) one who sows discord among brothers” (Prov. 6:16-19).
3. The sister was the leader, but the brother was called first. “The Lord came down . . . and called Aaron and Miriam” (12:5).
4. God’s sense of humor. Because Miriam criticized a black woman, God turned her white with leprosy.
5. Leprosy was a two-fold symbol of sin:
a. Slow rotting of skin till death.
b. Attacks the nervous system making one insensitive. (Sin makes one insensitive to God’s desire for holiness).
6. Miriam’s skin was milky white like a dead baby. “Please don’t let her be like a dead baby” (12:12).
D. INTERCESSION AND HEALING
1. Aaron was the first to ask for Miriam’s healing. “Aaron said to Moses.”
2. Aaron’s confession began when he recognized Moses’ position, “Oh my lord” (12:11).
3. Aaron recognized his sin. “We have done foolishly and in which we have sinned” (12:11).
4. Moses held no grudge or resentment. “Please heal her, O God, I pray” (12:13).
5. Public rebuke. “Shut out of the camp seven days” (12:14). When was she healed?
a. At Moses’ prayer.
b. Act of separation.
c. End of seven days.
6. The seven days of separation is consistent with Old Testament regulation (Lev. 14:1-32). Only case of leprosy healing until Naaman and later Jesus.
E. TEN LESSONS ABOUT CRITICISM
1. The most spiritual leaders can be guilty of criticism.
2. Criticism begins when our pride makes us think we are either better or can do a better job.
3. Criticism begins with our sinful nature and destroys our outer testimony.
4. God hears us when we criticize.
5. God judges our criticism according to its destructive potential.
6. God who forgives sin and uses imperfect people may punish you because you harmed the person He wants to use.
7. Ultimately, criticism against God’s leader is criticism against Him.
8. You must seek forgiveness from the one you criticize (Matt. 5:23-24).
9. Get the one you criticized to pray for your restoration.
10. Be careful about losing the presence of God.
If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. If you would like to receive Christ by faith, pray this simple prayer in your heart:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for my sins on the cross, and rose again the third day. I repent of my sins. By faith I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. You promised to save me, and I believe You, because You are God and cannot lie. I believe right now that the Lord Jesus is my personal Savior, and that all my sins are forgiven through His precious blood. I thank You, dear Lord, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.