Sunday, August 09, 2009

Finishing Well

What do you think of when you hear the name Miriam? She was intelligent, resourceful, and a leader. I have known women to say of someone like this, "When she walks into a room, strength walks in". Miriam faithfully watched her little brother by the river's brink. She bravely offered help and wisely suggested her own mother to nurse baby Moses. In Exodus 15, we find her leading the other women in praise to the Lord. She was a prophetess according to verse 20, yet shortly thereafter, she oversteps her boundaries, speaks against her brother Moses, and God swiftly puts her in her place.

In Numbers 12 we read of a terrible humbling she endured. She spoke against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman, and then asks this question, "Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?". Was she jealous of the attention Moses was getting? Did she desire a higher place of leadership? Was the complaint against his wife just an excuse used to tear him down in order to make herself look better? For whatever reason, the Bible makes a note of recording, "And the LORD heard it."

The Lord was not pleased with her attack on his servant, Moses. He made it very clear to her in verses 6-8: "...If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches..."

While the prophets saw visions and dreams, Moses spoke to God face to face! God's judgement fell on her, and Miriam became a leper. Even though Moses prayed and God removed her leprosy, she was shamed for seven days as a leper: "...the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again."

Miriam had held an honored place next to her brothers Aaron and Moses. She was a prophetess of God! The women obviously looked up to her, and followed her lead as she praised God. But after she faltered here, you never read of Miriam in the Bible again. Was she restored? Did she learn her lesson and go on to serve the Lord? It is important that we are careful not to think more of ourselves than we ought. Jesus was meek. Moses was meek. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble".

As we serve Him, we need to be careful not to let pride, arrogance, jealousy, and bitterness ruin our testimony, shame us before others, and falter in the race God has left us to run. Rather, humbly and meekly we should serve the Lord, in our place, building up one another, and submitting to those in authority over us, so that we can one day say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith".

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