By Dr. Shana Wise
In the books that I wrote, Acts of Intercession and Chief Women Arise, I wrote about Miriam and how God used her to make a positive impact in the lives of Moses and the women in the wilderness. In this passage of scripture, I want to show another side of Miriam that was not positive at all. Miriam had hidden attitude that was left unchecked and because of it affected her personally in a negative way. What’s hidden in your heart (good or bad) will eventually come out of your mouth, and Miriam had some things within her that were not pleasing to God. Let us examine lessons from Miriam, Aaron, and Moses that will help us keep the matters of our heart focused to God.
Numbers 12:1-16, “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So, they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.
The Heart of Miriam (and Aaron) Revealed
· Miriam and Aaron at this point felt they could do a better job leading the people in the wilderness than Moses.
· Mat. 12:34 (part b) ….” Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Both Miriam and Aaron had been harboring this attitude against Moses and his wife for a while and now it was being revealed.
· Pride left unchecked will lead to destruction. They were speaking from a place of pride and prejudice. God knew that they both had a problem with Moses’ wife on the simple fact that she was Ethiopian. That’s where the issue started, however, the real motive of discontent against Moses was his leadership and authority.
· Evil spoken from the heart does not just happen suddenly, it festers over time. For example: the children of Israel were in the wilderness and had a habit of complaining against Moses, which Miriam and Aaron witnesses and maybe secretly agreed. Then God was doing his work through his chosen servant Moses. Miriam and Aaron had their role to assist Moses in the ministry but not to lead the people. Aaron’s assignment was to be over the priesthood, and Miriam’s assignment was to be the prophetess and speak and confirm the word of God amongst the people, but not to lead them to the promise land. Moses married an Ethiopian woman which was by his choosing not anyone else and they probably felt he would have been better marring an Israelite woman-which they would have chosen for him. Do you see the cycle of bad attitude building up?
· Miriam’s title of prophetess couldn’t stop her from having a secret bad attitude against her leader and ultimately God. What a reminder that your title doesn’t matter if your heart is not right. The title cannot exempt us from falling into temptation and sin. Our focus as leaders should never be on the title but rather on the One who ordains, which is God himself.
The Lord’s Response
(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So, the three came out. Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” So, the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.
· “Suddenly the Lord said …..” , Isn’t it interesting that God chose to address this immediately once it was spoken out of Aaron’s and Miriam’s mouth? God defended Moses because he knew Moses’ heart was humble and not full of pride.
· When you have a track record with God, God himself will defend you when others are coming up against you unjustly. God was letting Merriam and Aaron know that their attitude and heart was unpleasing to Him. It angered God that they were treating his servant Moses in this way because in a sense, they disagreed with God’s choosing of Moses.
· God sees our hearts, motives, and actions. When we operate outside the spirit of God in these areas, as leaders and believers, it angers God because we are supposed to be represent him in the earth. Miriam and Aaron were held to a higher standard by God because they were chosen to be a priest and prophetess, but their attitude and actions were ungodly.
· Secret jealousy, envy, pride, prejudice, ought within our hearts, and any other ungodly spirits will lead to self-inflicted disease within our bodies-especially when we know the Truth of the Word. Miriam’s spiritual heart condition was already diseased by her attitude, and it manifest through her skin.
· Why did Miriam get afflicted with leprosy and not Aaron? I believe it was because Aaron, being head of the priesthood, responsibility was still to his office duties of priest. The people of Israel came to the priest when they were considered unclean. Aaron could not be marked physically unclean because he still had work to do amongst the people. Aaron was still unclean on the inside (heart) and that’s why God dealt with him and Miriam the way he did.
So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my Lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”
· Aaron did repent and begged God for mercy on his sister. In this statement Aaron was “making atonement” for his sin and sister’s. Out of his heart, he was confessing his and her sin asking for forgiveness.
· What secret sins do you need to confess and repent for?
So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.”
· We find Moses frequently interceding for the children of Israel, but in this instance, he was praying for his sister. Moses’ character is to be admired because he was still able to pray after personal attacks against him and his wife from his own family. Her health and wellbeing were important to him even if her attitude towards him was bad. This is a Christ-like attribute that Moses chose to display.
· We can also note that the text never spoke of Moses’ wife response to what her husband was going through with his family. Yet this is a lesson, when others are hurling undeserved attacks against you or your family, you don’t always have to respond, God himself will speak for you.
· It took seven days for Miriam to heal from leprosy. This is a sign that healing for some takes a while because of the depth of the disease. God had to send Miriam out of the camp for healing to take place. I view this as God humbling her. God has a way of humbling all of us when we are in error. How has God humbled you?
· We must remember to keep our hearts, minds, and attitude focused on God and not our feelings. They were all on their way to the promise land, but because of attitudes, many were delayed or did not make it. Don’t forfeit the promises of God by letting ungodly secret and hidden attitudes get in the way of your relationship with him.
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About the Author
Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor and CEO of Wise Choice Ministries (est. 2016). She is the founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network formally known as Christian Women Preachers United. Dr. Wise is the author of women’s devotional, Acts of Intercession, The Impact of Your Election, and co-author of Basic Ministry Training Manual (available on Amazon) and Chief Women Arise. She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets. Shana is married to Deacon Ron Wise and is the mother of four children.
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