Summary: Moses, Pt. 10
TURN A SINNER FROM THE ERROR OF HIS WAY (NUMBERS 12)
There are people who genuinely think they are God’s instrument of discipline and correction, and maybe even punishment. These critics make you question yourself and mess with your motivation, head and development.
In the classic words of an American salesman:
When the other person takes a long time, he’s slow. When I take a long time, I’m thorough.
When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy. But when I don’t do it, I’m busy.
When the other fellow does something without being told, he’s overstepping his bounds. But when I do it that’s initiative.
When the other fellow overlooks a rule of etiquette, he’s rude. But when I skip a few rules, I’m original.
When the other fellow pleases the boss he’s an apple polisher. But when I please the boss, that’s cooperation.
When the other fellow gets ahead, he’s getting the breaks. But when I managed to get ahead, that’s just the reward for hard work.
There are times in your life when you really had it with critics, opinions and scrutiny. Someone said, “A critic is a person who would have you write it, sing it, play it, paint it or carve it as he would do it - if only he could.”
Moses had survived the military onslaught of Pharaoh and the emotional outbursts of Israelites, but nothing prepared him for the family reproach from Miriam and Aaron over his Cushite spouse. The text resonated with sibling rivalry, professional jealousy and racial slant altogether. Scholars wrestle, speculate and disagree on whether she was Zipporah, a new spouse after Zipporah’s death, or a new wife, period.
In the first four messages in this series we saw the Israelites escaping Egypt, the next six messages were on the events in the first two years of wandering (Num 10:11) in the wilderness before arriving at the border and the following five messages complete the forty years march in the desert.
What kind of attitude is best in the face of unsubstantiated, unfair and uninvited criticisms? How can our words and attitude be honorable before God and others? Why is it best to leave things to God and bring glory to Him?
Mind Your Business and Mince Your Words
12:1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this. (Num 12:1-2)
One sports figure worthy of my admiration is Steve Young. The former NFL quarterback, who had won the Most Valuable Player award, the affections of hostile fans and the respect of teammates, opponents and writers, had more than most quarterbacks’ fair share of criticism when he took over the ball from legendary quarterback Joe Montana, who led San Francisco to four Super bowl rings. The four biting words critics said about him when he was trying to fit in the uncomfortable shoes of Joe Montana were “BUT HE AIN”T JOE!” In 1993, Young even experienced the indignity of hearing fans shout, “We want Joe!”
Steve Young was asked in an interview before he led the 49ers to Super bowl glory that year: “How much did it bother you that a lot of fans were against you?” Young replied, with class: “I never had the sense that the fans were against me. They can like two people. You know, one obviously more, and for good reason.” (Sport 8/93).
Miriam and Aaron were busybodies in tasks other than their own. Compared to Moses, Miriam, as a prophetess, was less busy, experienced less complains and suffered less stress. As priest, Aaron was to concern himself with officiating ceremonies, sacrificing offerings and performing rituals. All Miriam and Aaron had to learn to do was to know and serve God, to teach and prepare the people, to discharge and fulfill their calling and let Moses do his job and answer for himself, but their eyes were red with jealousy, their minds were poisoned by comparisons and their mouths were dipped in acid.
People like Miriam and Aaron are everywhere. They say before they think, breathe down people’s neck and throw their weight around, sitting behind their cushy desks in their offices and throwing barbs at people laboring in the field. Moses and Miriam rarely deal and interact with people as often as Moses did. They were in the humdrum technical field while Moses was in the taxing relational ministry. The siblings were sincerely wrong about Moses. Their nosey, bossy and chilly attitude had transformed them into troublesome, critical and unforgiving people. They had arrived at a point when they thought they were God’s lightning rod for Moses’ spiritual, emotional and personal well-being. Replacing Moses with the gullible Aaron or the confrontational Miriam was not a good option.