Summary: At first glance the book of Numbers reads a bit like an operations manual. It’s got numbers of soldiers, lists of names, and a bit of repetition. Tucked between those lists and numbers are some stories of real people, dealing with real issues of faith!
BETWEEN THE NUMBERS
-What would you think if your brother was elected president?
-Some of you might actually say “great!” “I’d vote for him”
-But some of you might move to Canada!
-Others would simply call the tabloids for an easy payday!
-If you aren’t familiar with the Bible characters Miriam and Aaron you may not realize their brother was Moses: the man God chose to lead the nation of Israel.
-Aaron was an important figure in the Exodus of Israel because he was the spokesman for his stuttering prophet brother: Moses.
-Miriam was also a prophet and led the women in praise after God led the Israelites through the Red Sea.
-At this point in Numbers a lot has happened since that time.
-A year has passed, and as we saw in chapter 11 last week…the people’s attitudes have begun to change.
-Camping is always fun for the first few days, but after a year...a critical spirit began creeping into the community.
-It even began to affect Israel’s most influential family.
12 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman.
-In chap 11 the people didn’t like the food.
-Now in chap 12 Moses’ own family doesn’t like his wife.
-You might wonder why? Maybe she was stuck up. Maybe she was bossy or maybe she overcooked the lamb at Passover.
-It’s easy to find something not to like about people, but the text tells us what the hang-up really was: She was a Cushite.
-The way the original language reads makes it seem as though Miriam was the instigator of this criticism.
-She was the big sister of Moses and did not approve of her brother’s taste in women.
-This passage has given the scholars something to talk about.
-We know that Moses was married to Zipporah who was a Midianite; her father was Jethro: the priest of the Beverly Hill Billies. Priest of Midian.
-And some think the wife mentioned here is still Zipporah.
-But others believe that Moses, who is 80 at this point, has lost his wife and remarried.
-So why are they fussing about her being a Cushite.
-Option 1: Is that they were prejudiced. Cushites were people from North Africa, probably the area of Ethiopia, and they may not have liked her because she was black.
-Option 2 is more likely: They may not have liked her because she was not a Jew. The Jews were fiercely proud of their ethnicity.
-She was an outsider…and therefore they didn’t accept her.
-Which every option you choose, it paints kind of an ugly picture
of Aaron the High Priest of Israel, and Miriam the prophetess.
-We know that racism and persecution of other ethnic groups is ignorant, and petty, and not condoned by God.
-But our focus today is the remarkable contrast of character between Moses and his siblings.
-Moses was very humble and his siblings were very proud.
-We see it in their reaction toward Moses’ wife.
PRIDE TEARS OTHER PEOPLE DOWN.
-She didn’t pick her skin color and she couldn’t control which ethnic group she was born into.
-Pride is unreasonable like that.
-Aaron and Miriam also had no say in their race or ethnic group, but somehow they felt superior because of it.
C.S. Lewis “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”
-Our pride causes us to rank ourselves above others people.
-To compare our kids with their kids, our marriage with their marriage, our career with their career.
-To compare our sin with their sin. Our success w/their success
-It’s so easy to let yourself think you’re better than others based of any number of criteria or comparisons we might make.
-It’s pride that leads us to compare, and once we’ve decided that we’re better than they are…we only continue to find fault.
-Think about that person that you don’t like. Maybe more than 1!
-Think about the people you avoid.
-Those people you gossip about. The ones you can’t stand.
-And be honest with yourself. Is there any pride involved?
-Have you ranked yourself above them?
-Are you convinced that you’re better than them?
-Are you looking for chances to build them up?
-Or does your pride justify tearing them down with your thoughts, your words, and your actions?
-Maybe that someone is your spouse, and you can’t figure out why your marriage is a wreck. Pride.
-Pride is the sin that led to Satan to stage a revolt in heaven.
-He built a case against God, convinced himself that he was better suited to be Lord of all.
-Knowing that pride was the original sin of the devil, we don’t need to wonder where our own selfish pride comes from.