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.