Friday, May 31, 2024

2024.05.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 12

Read Numbers 12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke against whom in Numbers 12:1? On what grounds? But what are they trying to get (Numbers 12:2)? But how does Numbers 12:3 compare Moses to them (and all men)? What suddenly happens in Numbers 12:4? To whom does He speak? What does He tell them to do? What happens when they come out to the tabernacle (Numbers 12:5)? To whom does He call? What does He say about the ministry of prophets in Numbers 12:6? With whom is it different (Numbers 12:7a)? What does YHWH say about Moses in verse 7b? How does He relate differently to Moses than to other prophets (Numbers 12:8a–c, cf. Exodus 33:19–23)? What effect should this have had upon them (Numbers 12:8d–e)? How does Numbers 12:9 describe the abrupt ending to this interview? But what has happened to Miriam (Numbers 12:10)? Who now sees it? Whom does he now address, in what manner (Numbers 12:11)? What does he ask for? What does he confess? How urgent is the pleading in Numbers 12:12? Whom, then, does Moses address (Numbers 12:13)? For what does he ask? What is YHWH’s answer (Numbers 12:14)? What happens (Numbers 12:15)? What does not happen? For how long? Afterward, where do they go (Numbers 12:16)?

Why is humility so important? Numbers 12 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these sixteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that humility keeps us from provoking God’s anger on the one hand, and also from leaving no room for that anger by trying to vindicate ourselves.

Attacking the Lord’s servant, Numbers 12:1–3. Moses is faithful in all God’s house (Numbers 12:7b, cf. Hebrews 3:2, Hebrews 3:5). But the Lord’s servants (and His Son, ultimately) have always found themselves under attack. This attack has several classic characteristics. 

  • It comes from family. Just as Jesus’s own earthly family were among His detractors during His earthly ministry, He has warned us that those who follow Him will often experience the same. In this case, it is spearheaded by Miriam. We can see this both by her name being listed first in Numbers 12:1, and by the implication of her being the one who is struck with leprosy. 
  • Whether women or uncalled men, there is often ministerial jealousy on the part of those who are less prominent in Christ’s service. Aaron was high priest, and it was not enough for him! 
  • It is disguised in moral and spiritual terms. Your author once believed that this “Cushite” was an Ethiopian, as the NKJ indicates in its translation. But, apparently, Midian was also identified with Cush (cf. Habakkuk 3:7), and since the Lord tells us nothing of Moses having two wives, it seems that this was Miriam and Aaron’s “spin” on Moses’s marriage to Zipporah. They pass off their challenge as being on the grounds of ethnic integrity (v1) and spiritual equality (Numbers 12:2). But God’s comparison of Moses’s humility exposes the pride that is truly behind their challenge.

The Lord defends His servantNumbers 12:4-9. When YHWH commands the three to come out, one wonders if Aaron and Miriam think they are about to “get their share” of Moses’s prophetic office. After all, we just heard about the 70 back at ole’ “Graves of Craving,” and they received their office in a similar way. But once they’ve stepped forward in Numbers 12:5, things quickly go downhill for them. 

The Lord asserts Moses’s faithfulness .Numbers 12:7, and singles him out above all other prophets (Numbers 12:8a–c), before rebuking them for speaking against him (verse 8d–e). It is Moses’s knowledge of the God Who is angry with His servants’ attackers (Numbers 12:9) that enables Moses to be so meek with respect to himself (Numbers 12:3). For you too, whether in office or otherwise, confidence in God to vindicate you is the path to loving your enemies and being humble under fire.

The servant intercedes for his attackersNumbers 12:10-16. One affliction of leprosy upon Miriam (Numbers 12:10), and Aaron goes from challenging Moses to praying to him for forgiveness (Numbers 12:11-12). But Moses knows his own place and prays for that forgiveness (Numbers 12:13). The Lord’s answer (Numbers 12:14) is a reminder that men in leadership must add wisdom and strength to their humility, lest they compromise order, propriety, or justice. But Moses is still heard, for the seven days (Numbers 12:14-16) is half the total time prescribed (cp. Leviticus 13:1–8 with Leviticus 14:8–9). 

The Son Who is faithful over all the house. Hebrews 3:2, Hebrews 3:5 quotes Numbers 12:7 in the context of exalting Christ above Moses. Jesus’s exaltation is of an entirely different order than Moses’s, even when considering how Moses is exalted above all other prophets! And this comes out in Matthew 9:1–8, where Christ does not need to pray to forgive sins. He has that authority in Himself! It must have been encouraging to Aaron and Miriam to hear Moses’s prayer in Numbers 12:13, after they had heard the Lord’s high commendation of Moses. How much more for us to know that Jesus prays for us (cf. Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1)! 

Whom might you be in danger of speaking against wrongly? Who are speaking against you? How would humility help you in both situations? Why don’t you need to try to vindicate yourself for your own sake?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving to us Christ as our Great Prophet. Grant unto us humility under Him, so that we do not speak against His officers. And help us to trust You to vindicate our name. Thank You that Jesus prays for us for our forgiveness. For His sake, do forgive our sins, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH68A “God Shall Arise, and by His Might”

No comments:

Post a Comment