Summary: Aaron and Miriam lead a rebellion against Moses’ leadership that incenses God. What did they do wrong, and what can it teach us?
OPENING: Joe had ordered an expensive suit for a banquet, and the tailor finished alterations just in time. But as Joe left the shop, a sudden rainstorm doused the jacket and shrank one of the sleeves.
"We can’t do anything about it today," the tailor told Joe when he returned to the shop. "Just stretch the sleeve over your hand, and no one will notice."
With his arm contorted, Joe left the shop, and again was doused by rain. This time, a pant leg shrank.
"I can’t take care of that now!" exclaimed the tailor. "Pull the bottom of pants over your heel, and nobody will notice."
His body twisted, Joe again left the shop. Two women were passing by.
"That poor man!" said on. "I wonder what’s wrong with him?"
"I don’t know," said the other. "But he sure is wearing a nice suit!"
APPLICATION: This man so contorted himself to make the suit look normal that he made himself look abnormal. The Bible tells us that is the condition of our souls. Often we so contort our lives to allow for sin, that we look abnormal to God. Jeremiah said it was because our hearts are deceitful.
As we examine this story of Miriam & Aaron we find that this has happened to them as well. Some form of sin has caused them to speak out against Moses in a way that incenses God. What have they done?
I. Why did Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses?
Their main complaint seems to be that Moses married a Cushite woman. Cushites were what we now call Ethiopians and they were black people. What this seems to indicate is that Aaron and Miriam were basically guilty of bigotry towards Moses and his new wife.
Their prejudice had contorted them so that they became disobedient to God.
ILLUS: I once knew of a denominational church whose hierarchy gave a small town congregation a choice of only two candidates for their preacher. a white woman and a black man. They chose the woman (an unbiblical choice to begin with) because she was white.
But that’s a denominational church. The Churches of Christ wouldn’t do that would they? Yes, we would. I know a preacher who adopted black child while he was serving a small congregation up north. Not long after that, he was fired.
But certainly I wouldn’t be guilty of such prejudice. Yes, I would. Years ago at Lake James Christian Assembly (one of church camps) I was sitting around with a group of 4th and 5th graders, talking and telling jokes. I had just bought a Pepsi and one of the kids asked to have a sip. So I passed her the can (yes, I know it’s unsanitary, but a the time it didn’t bother me). Then another child asked for a drink. Again I shared. But then, a little black girl asked for a sip… and I hesitated. I remember thinking at the time - "This is ridiculous. Why would I share my Pepsi with ’white’ kids and hesitate with this little girl?" I shared my drink, but my initial response shocked me.
Prejudice is a terrible sin. It haunts the minds of many who would even seek to be holy. And it shows its worst side when those who purport to be men of the Bible pervert scripture to validate their evil.
One of the oldest justifications for this perversion comes from a misapplication of Genesis 9:20-25
"Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers."
Those who use this passage to support their bigotry maintain that Canaan was the forerunner of the black’s of Africa. But that can’t be. Notice curse was on Canaan, not Cush the oldest son (10:6). Cush went on to be the father of the Egyptians (they weren’t black), and Canaan became the father of those who settled in Canaan. They weren’t blacks either. There is no justifiable way the curse on Canaan can be used to support subjugation of anyone of the Negroid race.
Of course, there are those who attempt to base their bigotry on a previous Bible event - the curse upon Cain. One heretic I encountered even taught that Cain was the offspring of Satan & Eve! But this heresy also runs afoul of Biblical teachings. Because, in order to hold that the curse upon Cain was that he became a black man, a teacher would have to ignore the Flood and the fact that Noah and his family were the only survivors.