Monday 09 May 2016

Bible Book:

Not so with my servant Moses ...” (vv. 6-7)

Numbers 12:1-8 Monday 9 May 2016

Psalm: Psalm 88


For the next few days we have five fascinating adventure storiesfrom the book of Numbers to stretch our understanding of God and ofourselves too. We are handling ancient material and must not be toosurprised if we encounter some difficulties - both textual andcultural. This little insight into the family life of Moses revealssomething most families encounter at times - sibling rivalry.Miriam and Aaron rebel against Moses, who, despite being theiryounger brother, clearly has the primary leadership role.

"Cushite" (v. 1) normally refers to someone from Ethiopia (inwhich case the complaint could be construed as racist; thisunderstanding would also mean it refers to a second wife of Moses).Alternatively, it could refer to a region in the north of Arabia(see also Habbakuk 3:7) in which case the wife referredto is Zipporah, a Midianite. There are several other references toZipporah and maybe (see Exodus4:24-26) her in-laws thought she was taking too muchresponsibility herself. Grumbling against leaders is also anage-old practice and the story may resonate more than we would wishwith situations we have known. Perhaps Miriam and Aaron have apoint - for they too are prophets, they too have been entrustedwith the word of God at various times as are others during thesewilderness years. But at heart they are jealous, their jealousydistorts the truth (verse 2) and, very much in the manner of smallchildren about to be reprimanded by their parents, the threesiblings are summoned to the tent of meeting (verse 4). PerhapsMiriam and Aaron are expecting that Moses will be cut down to sizeby God, but if so they are disappointed - God unequivocallychampions Moses and his unique status before God.

God appears in a pillar of cloud, (cf Exodus13:21) and explains how most prophets receive their revelationthrough visions and dreams, but with Moses God speaks "face toface" (v. 8). Throughout Old Testament history there is anunderstanding that to encounter God in this intimate way inevitablyspells death, but not for Moses. It is also worthy of note that,despite this favoured relationship with God which might make mostleaders proud, Moses is noted for his humility. God also notes herethat Moses has the responsibility of "all my house" (v. 7) - nomean task; perhaps if his sister and brother had reflected more onthe weight of Moses' burden they would not have been so quick tocriticise.

To Ponder

  • Moses is described as the most humble man on earth (verse 3)and also has this uniquely close relationship with God. Do youthink these two facts might be related? In what way? How doespride/humility operate in your relationship with God?
  • Clouds have an aura of mystery and hiddenness about them, butin Scripture are often also the medium of revelation. Notice theclouds today and ponder what God might be hiding from you and whatguiding light God might be trying to reveal to you.
  • Reflect on the hymn 'Howshall I sing the majesty' (StF 53), which contrasts ourpartial vision and understanding of God with the more completerevelation enjoyed by the angels. 
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