Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: So would you turn to Numbers, chapter 12, or find it on your phone or pad. You know, the great thing about having the book rather than the pad, by the way, is you don't get any incoming texts or calls except from the Holy Spirit when you got this thing. No interruptions. [laughter] Okay, I'm done, because I'm into technology too. So I'm all into that. But let's pray.
Father, we open the Book, and as we open the Book we open our hearts to your Spirit, that the Book, the words, the principles, the truths that we have sung about a moment ago, craving that we want you to speak your truth, Lord, that it would make its way through our eye gate into our brains as we process the meaning of it. It would then find its home in our very lives and the way we live. Lord, we don't want to be church people, we want to be Christian people formed by the truth, radical disciples of Jesus Christ who love you and share with others the only hope to leave this world and find hope in the next world; and that is, in Jesus Christ. Help us to understand and grasp, in Jesus' name, amen.
We don't belong here, do we, in this world? This world is not our home. You've heard the tunes, the songs, if you've been to camp: "I'm just a passing through." The children of Israel were on a journey. They were out in the desert. They didn't belong there. They were moving from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were in the wilderness. It was never God's goal for them to stay in the wilderness. Right? He wanted to bring them from Egypt through the wilderness to a land that he had promised all the way back to Abram, who became Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.
You're on a journey. Your journey has reason. It has purpose. Moses will tell them in Deuteronomy, chapter 6, some great words: "He brought you out from there [Egypt]. He brought you out from there, that he might bring you in." "He brought you out, that he might bring you in. He didn't just bring you out that you might be out here in the desert going, 'Whew! I made it out, man. I'm out of Egypt.' Okay, but you're in the desert. 'He brought you out from there, that he might bring you in.' "And he has brought us out of our past, our darkness, and we're on a journey.
You are where you are by the grace of God, but he has more for you. And eventually you're going to leave this world and, hopefully, because you know Christ personally, you're going to enjoy heaven with him forever. Well, one of God's characteristics is that whatever he starts, he finishes. Right? He's the author, the originator, and the finisher of our faith. So, he brought them out of Egypt, he wants to bring them into the Promised Land, but something happens that will preclude a clean entry. They won't go directly, and they could have, they should have.
It only took eleven days to get there; it took them forty years to get there. And we start to see why as we go through these chapters. Now as we open up chapter 12, and you'll notice it's short, we'll have no problem getting through chapter 12. I'd like to get through 12 and 13, but, hey, if we can get through 12, that's a chapter at least. But what I find interesting as we open up chapter 12 is we get a little bit of insight into the family life of Moses. We don't get much of the background and family life of Moses. We just don't know much. We know a little bit.
We know his mom was Jochebed. And we know of the whole story of him being put in a basket and sent down the river and, "See you later." And then Pharaoh, his daughter got him and raised him in Egypt. We know some of those details. But what was it like to be Moses' older sister? Well, we find out a little bit, because Miriam is his older sister. What was it like to be Moses' big brother? Well, we get a little bit insight because Aaron was his big brother. You know, as I was reading chapter 12, and I see the little tension that is in Moses' and his siblings, I immediately see something that's encouraging to me.
Moses did not have a perfect home life. It wasn't just perfect at home growing up. There were difficulties. You can imagine, if you've been displaced from your mother, taken to the Pharaoh's house. Yes, raised by the Hebrew midwife who happens to be your mom, and she's getting paid while all that is happening, but still you belong to the Pharaoh's household. And just that kind of dual citizenship, finding out that you're Hebrew and that's your mom, but really that's sort of your mom too. But I'm glad it's here. I'm glad it's here because it just sort of sets us free.
I had two parents who loved each other and loved their children. And there was security in our home, but our home life was far from perfect. And if you think, "Well, Pastor Skip, you must have had a wonderfully, peaceful home life to get to where the Lord has taken you today." Well, you wouldn't have said that on the day that I broke my brother's nose with a baseball bat; or the day he stabbed me in the arm with a lead pencil; or the night that I threw him through the plate-glass window in the front of the house and he landed on the front lawn; or the few weeks later after the window had newly been replaced that we reversed it and I was pushed through it.
Not perfect, but let's look at Moses. "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?' "Now watch this, "and the Lord heard it." Moses didn't hear it. They were talking among themselves, but the Lord heard it. It's an interesting text, because we go, "Now who is this chick that he married? And what happened to his first wife?"
His first wife, do you remember her name? Zipporah was her name. The Ethiopian woman described here probably is not Zipporah, because Zipporah, if you remember your Bible, was the daughter of a Midianite priest. So she was Midianite. She was Arabian in her background. We don't know what happened to her, but she's obviously not around any longer. So, 'A', she's dead and he's remarrying; or, 'B', because Jethro her father brought her to the wilderness once the children of Israel left Egypt, there was a reuniting of his wife and his father-in-law out there in desert (Exodus, chapter 18), she comes along with dad.
It could be that she went home with dad. Is this another wife on top of her? Probably not, but we can't be sure. The Scripture is silent on that. But we know it is his second wife. I'm guessing Zipporah has died through the wilderness journeyings and he's now on wife number two. Because she is Ethiopian, one wonders was she part of the mixed multitude that we have already read. Because evidently the Ethiopians down south of Egypt have migrated in history back up to Egypt, and she was a part of that company, that group, and now she's out in the wilderness.
Perhaps, half of one background, half of another. We're just not sure. These are all question marks we have. But here is Moses with another wife, and it really bugs his older sister and older brother. And so they start murmuring and they start complaining. Now, being the big sister---big sisters and big brothers have thoughts all to their own; don't they? "I remember when he was just a punk kid, a baby. I helped him get put in that little basket and sailing down the river. In fact, I was the girl who suggested to Pharaoh's daughter that I should get a Hebrew lady to raise her, and I got my mom.
"So, you know, who is this Moses? He's my little kid brother." I don't know what it was like for you when you came to Christ and went back and told your family. I can only tell you my experience. It didn't go over all that well. "Who do you think you are? Holier than we are? You found the answer now and we haven't? Are you saying the religion that you've been brought up with---we've been brought up with is now, like, gone and irrelevant, and you're on to something? God now speaks to you?" Now, it's interesting whatever it was, whatever reason caused them to say, "We don't like his new wife," which is pretty typical, I think, when they're used to the previous wife.
If something happens to her and there's a remarriage, there's a hard period of time where the family has to except this interloper. But there was angst, there was trouble, and they didn't like his new wife. And then what's funny is that one issue led to another issue. See the issue was all about relationship, but they make the issue about leadership. "We don't like this new relationship, but, you know, come to think of it, we don't like Moses' leadership either. He married this woman. But you know what? He's like the leader. Maybe God hasn't just spoken through him, but also through us."
Which is also typical, for you see, when you find one issue about somebody that you don't like, you're going to find a second and a third and a fourth. If you're predisposed in that direction, the list will be endless. One issue, though completely different from the other issue, will lead to it. Here's a thought: it could be that this all sort of was precipitated by what we read in the last chapter. Let me just refresh your memory. Moses was a bit overwhelmed and God set a group of men around him. How many? Seventy. Twelve was the disciples. Seventy men, right?
Seventy elders of Israel around him. So the elders of Israel help bear the load with Moses. Maybe since Aaron and Miriam were in the these leadership positions along with Moses, after all, their encampment was together, maybe Aaron the older brother started thinking, "Well, now he's got seventy other elders who are leaders in this nation, maybe my leadership will be diminished and eclipsed by their leadership." Any time you put new leadership on a church staff or an environment like these, other leaders get a little bit nervous.
Another possibility: perhaps Miriam was threatened by this new woman. After all, Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus, chapter 15. She is a prophetess of the Lord. She speaks out in the name of the Lord, and she has a leadership position, and she is known among the Israelites as being a leader among women. Now that he's married this new wife, perhaps she is going to be seen as the female leader in Israel. In the book of Acts there was a problem in the women's ministry. The church started growing and there were a group of women, the Bible tells us (Acts, chapter 6) that felt neglected and they thought another group of women were getting preferential treatment.
Do you remember the story? The Grecian widows thought that the Hebrew widows, the Jewish widows were---or the Hebrew-speaking Jewish widows were getting preferential treatment and they were being left out. So this angst, this tension arose, and we see a tension here. "'Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?' "Good question. Actually, no. Did the Lord speak through Aaron the high priest? Yes, in a very particular way with these two stones that he wore, the Urim and the Thummim. Do you remember that, Urim and Thummim, those two stones? The Lord would speak his will by him as the high priest using these stones.
Sort of like, if I can just use the analogy, like holy dice. But God was in how they were spun. Also, God spoke through Miriam. As I mentioned, she is called a prophetess. So the Lord did speak through them, but not at the same level that he was speaking through Moses. But now because of the relationship question, they have a leadership question. It says, "The Lord heard it." Now, here's what's interesting, and it's a great principle, I don't want you to miss it: Moses didn't need to find out about it, didn't need to chase the rumor down, and, "Come here, I want to talk to you guys about this. This is really bothering me."
He didn't need to because God heard it. He didn't need to defend himself because God heard it. Hey, here's a general rule of thumb: if you want to go around defending yourself, go ahead, have at it. God will let you. But if you would rather just say, "Whatever. The Lord hears it all, he knows it all, and he knows my heart. And I'll let him take care of it." You'll sleep better. And by the way, God's better at defending you than you are at defending you. God's a better lawyer for you than you are for you. So let him have it. Let them have it by letting the Lord have it.
"The Lord heard it." Verse 3, "(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)" Isn't that a great text? You know what's great about it? You know who wrote that? Moses wrote it. [laughter] And do you know that those critics who are looking for reasons to say, "Moses never wrote the Pentateuch. He never wrote those first five books in the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. He didn't write that, there's no Mosaic authorship, it was written by somebody else."
Well, point to this verse. Because, after all, nobody would say that about himself. "Oh, by the way, I just want you to know, I'm more humble then anybody on earth." Because that just proves you're not. However, I contend that it actually authenticates that Moses wrote it. Because nobody would say that about himself, unless they were directed to by the Holy Spirit, because it goes against every natural inclination to make such a statement. I don't think it even means that somebody else besides Moses later on had to insert that or write it. It's possible, but it doesn't mean that at all.
Moses could have written it and he probably thought, "Oh, I don't want to have to write that." But it's true. You know, humility---here's the definition, try this one on for size: humility is being known for who you are, who you really are. Be known for who you are and be honest about who you are. If you went up to an Olympic athlete, let's say, a runner who won the gold medal. And if you were to say, "Hey, are you a good athlete?" And what if he were to say, "Well, you know, it's not me, it's the Lord," which it is the Lord, he gave you that gift.
"Well, I'm-I'm-I'm okay." Okay, that sounds humble, right? "I'm just okay." That's a lie. If he were to say, "Actually, I'm a world-class athlete. I've won the gold medal in the Olympics." That's not prideful, that's honest. That's being known for who you are. That can be humble too. In fact, to just say, "I'm okay," is prideful, because you're trying to give people the impression that you're more humble that you really are by trying to say that you're not. "Oh, I'm okay." So here's Moses basically saying he didn't sweat it. He was "more humble than all men who were on the earth."
By the way, one of the marks, one of the characteristics I've discovered about truly great people is a sense of humility that is sometimes staggering, breathtaking, disarming. When I first met Billy Graham, what startled me about him, years ago, is just how humble he was. And he didn't want to talk about himself, he wanted to talk about you. "Tell me about yourself. Oh, that's interesting. Tell me more." One night after I spoke back in North Carolina, and Billy was in the audience with his wife Ruth and his family, he came up to me after the service.
And I'm going, "Oh, no. Oh, no." I mean, here's---this is the greatest evangelist in the history---he's spoken to more people than anyone on the earth in terms of preaching the gospel to. And he came up to me afterwards and he said, "That was one best of the messages I ever heard. I wish I could preach like that." And I'm going, "Okay, this is, like, this is, like, weird now. It's, like, very awkward. This is over the top." And he said, "When I was your age, I couldn't speak half as well as that." And he was just genuinely trying to be encouraging. And I was just, again, disarmed by his humility.
Once when I was with him down in Puerto Rico and he was doing a world-wide crusade that would be broadcast to countries around the globe, and he had a stadium that would be filled with people that night; we were with him before, when he was preparing his message, and he said, "I just hope people come." [laughter] I wanted to say, "You can't be serious about that? You hope people come? You can't---I mean, you'll have to turn people away." But he genuinely had this sort of fear in his heart, like, "What if nobody shows up?" I love that. It spoke more to me than any sermon I could hear on humility.
Just, "Lord, this is your work. I'm humbled that you use me. I hope people show up to hear it." Humble. Okay, look at this, "Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam," all three kids," 'Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!' So the three came out." That sounds like my dad. [laughter] "Jim, Rick, Bob, Skip, outside. I want to talk to you." "Uh-oh. Not good." "Then the Lord came down"---I love this, "The Lord came down." The Lord is going to intervene in the situation. He's going to insert himself in the life journey of these three people.
He's not just aloof in heaven, he comes down to deal with real life situations. Somehow in your life, isn't wonderful to know that the Lord is going come down and do what he wants? "The Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward." Can't you just feel the tension in the air? You can cut it with a knife. The Lord's voice coming out from that cloud, "Aaron, Miriam." And they walked 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.' "In other words, without a mediator. The Hebrew is mouth-to-mouth, intimately, closely, no enigma, no riddle, no dream, no vision, no intermediator, just direct. "'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?' "Notice a couple of things in that statement of the Lord to these two.
Generally, when the Lord spoke in the older Testament, he spoke through prophets. There were two offices mainly: the office of the priest, and the office of the prophet. The priest was a representative representing the people before the Lord. The prophet was also a representative, but representing the Lord to the people. So when the Lord wanted to speak to people, he spoke through a prophet. He would often speak, as we know already from reading Genesis, through dreams and visions. Dreams happen when you're asleep. Visions happen when you're awake, you're seeing things, you're experiencing things---that's a vision.
That's the difference. But you're wide awake when you see them. There was a time in my life when I was wide awake and I saw all sorts of things. But it wasn't because of the Lord speaking to me in that kind of a vision; it was for an altered state of consciousness brought on by a hallucinogenic. But this, a vision from God, is where you're not dreaming it in your sleep and God's speaking to you in your subconscious, but you're wide awake. Dreams and visions. However, there's a vagueness to dreams. Right? There's a darkness to them. They have to often be interpreted; do they not?
So, for example, the Lord spoke to Joseph through dreams. He spoke to people around Joseph through dreams, but they didn't know what they meant. So you remember the story back in Genesis, chapter 40, when Joseph is in jail and he has a couple cellmates. Cellmate number one is the butler to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. He's in jail for something he did wrong. The baker of the king of Egypt, Pharaoh, is also in jail. He did something wrong. They're locked up. They had a dream one night that troubled them, and they were really bummed out.
And Joseph saw that they were downcast, and he said, "Oh, so what's up?" He goes, "Oh, man, we had a---bad dreams last night. Really bad." Joseph said, "Well, do not dreams and interpretations belong to God? Lay them on me. Tell me. See if I can figure this out." So the butler said, "Well, last night I had a dream that I saw a vine with three branches, and the branches grew all these grapes. And, I, in my dream pressed those grapes into a cup and I gave it to Pharaoh. That was in my dream. I dreamt that. I saw that in my sleep."
Joseph said, "I know what that means: within three days the Lord is going to restore to you the position you had before with Pharaoh. You're going to get your job back." "Awesome!" he thought, "Awesome! Thanks!" He wouldn't have known that unless somebody would have interpreted that dream that he got. So the baker thought, "Well, that's good news. Let me tell you my dream. Last night I had a dream that there were three baskets on my head, and the uppermost basket had bread in it. And there were birds flying around that land in it and started eating and picking off the bread on top."
Joseph looked at him, but he said, "Well, I got good news and bad news. The good news is I know what the dream means. The bad news is what the dream means. The three baskets are three days. Within three days the Pharaoh is going to chop your head off from your body. He's going to hang your body out, and the birds of the air are going to pick at your flesh in the open air." Both of those things happened, but the dreams required interpretation. God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar dreams. Daniel has to interpret the polymetallic image and the other dreams that he saw, the tree that filled the earth.
So the Lord spoke, but he spoke plainly, directly with no mediation to Moses as he said here. "'He is faithful,' " verse 7, " 'in all my house.' "Wow! The Lord didn't say, "Let me tell you about Moses, he's a good preacher," because he really wasn't, he stuttered; "He's a wonderful leader," because he wasn't. He floundered. He doubted. But he said, "He's faithful." Aren't you glad that the Lord picks up on your faithfulness more than your talent or your ability or your capability? It's your faithfulness, your faithfulness. Are you faithful? Are you loyal?
Proverbs 20 verse 6 asks that haunting question: "Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?" Here's a faithful man. God says, "Let me tell you something about Moses. He's faithful and I speak to him. I speak directly to him. I speak with him face-to-face." In other words, like friends would speak. "'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?' "Now wait a minute here. Wait, wait, wait, wait. What do we do with what we just read?
In the light of what we have already read in Exodus, chapter 33, is there conflict? Is there a discrepancy? For Exodus 33 Moses cries out, "Lord, Lord, Lord. I want to see you. Show me your glory." God says, "Moses, no man can see me, and live." Or John, chapter 1, "No man has seen God at any time; but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him." And, yet, he says, "He has seen the form of the Lord." So what does that mean? Moses was not able to see God's person. He was not able to see the fullness of God's glory---too many watts, a sunburn beyond imagination, crispy critters, fried bacon, [sizzle] you're gone. [laughter]
"You can't see me and live," the Lord said. So what the Lord did, we remember, is pass by him. And he saw the result, the aftereffect, like the afterburner or the afterglow of a jet that went by. Whatever experience it was, whatever form he saw, it was not the effulgence of God's glory, but something that he was able to see that was there. But it wasn't God in his fullness, couldn't handle it. This is the way I tend to think of it in my little head. You know on television when they interview people who don't want you to see their face.
So they have a camera set up and you see either the profile or the shadow with light around them like an aftereffect, kind of a light glow around them. And you hear their voice, and you're seeing a form of some kind, but you're not seeing all the details. It's sort of like that. It was an experience afforded to no one but Moses, very unique. "Miriam, you're a prophetess. Dude, Aaron, you're a high priest. You got the Urim, Thummim thing going, that's cool. And you're a prophetess, that's cool. But I speak very uniquely to this man, this servant of mine, Moses."
"'So why then,' " he says, " 'are you not afraid to speak against my servant?' "Doesn't that make sense? Look, if Moses is God's choice, and he was God's choice, then to speak against Moses is to speak against God. So, "You're complaining; you don't like Moses leadership? I'm responsible for Moses leadership. You don't like it? You don't like me and my choice. You're not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" "So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them," verse 9, "and he departed." Can you just remind you of something that you and I have to look forward to in the future? You're going to see him face-to-face.
One day you will see, your eyes will see him. Job said, "My eyes will see him [the Lord]." First John, chapter 3, one of my favorite little chapters, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it didn't know him." He says, "And we are the children of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is." Moses wanted to see his glory. Didn't get to see it all. Got to see a part of it.
You and I will see all of it. And the only way you can handle it is not now, but later when you have the equipment, a new body, in a resurrected body, in a resurrected state, or in spirit state, spirit form. John, chapter 4, "The Lord is Spirit, whoever worships him will worship him in spirit and in truth." There's a realm of reality beyond the physical that is spiritual. And besides that, on top of just that you will have a resurrected body with brand-new capabilities to interact directly, face-to-face with the Lord. You're going to see him as he is. We can only imagine, like the song says.
You can only imagine, you piece together a few things, but sheer, total delight, or in surf lingo, stoked to the max. But the anger of the Lord here "was aroused against them, and he departed." Good thing, but they would have probably just fried right on the spot. "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." Now look carefully at the word; there's no 'D' on the end of that. There's no 'O' after the letter 'E'. She didn't turn into a leopard, she became leprous, leprosy. She became a leper.
"So Aaron said to Moses, 'Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly,' " finally he recognized that, " 'in which we have sinned.' "Isn't it fascinating that the one disease that God struck her with, Miriam with was leprosy? Why? Because of all the diseases we read about in the Old Testament, the one that symbolizes sin most closely is leprosy. Leviticus 13 and 14, "This is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing," and he's examined and so forth. You see, leprosy, it begins secretly. It starts out small.
Just a little scab, just a little rash. You think, "Huh? That's weird. I'll get a little cream for that and I'll be okay." Maybe, maybe not. And if maybe not, it could turn into full-blown leprosy. So it starts insignificantly; but, number two, it spreads rapidly. Once it takes root it covers the whole body, it spreads all over. Number three, it effects deeply. It gets down to the core and the systems of the body begin to shut down, and the nerves, the impulses are severed from the brain so you could touch flame or get cut and bleed and not even feel it. And it isolates permanently.
They were isolated outside the camp and they died that way, because that's how a person with leprosy ended up. It killed them. They were isolated from the rest of the camp, from their families, from the love of their children, from the community, and they died that way, unless a miraculous healing happened, which happened in the days of Jesus, a couple of other exceptions. But it was the exception and not the rule. So it's so much like sin that she, because of her sin, is experiencing something of a physical metaphor and she comes down with leprosy, as white skin, "white as snow."
Let me throw out a suggestion, because it's just a suggestion that one scholar comes up with and it's just interesting. It's an interesting thought. He said, "The reason she turned white in this leprosy, because that's not necessarily a condition of leprosy, but her skin became snow white, leprous, but snow white, kind of weird looking, flaky and weird looking, is that God was punishing her for her prejudice against the dark skin of the Ethiopian wife of Moses. As if saying, "Really? It's about race? You want to be white? You'll be really, really, really white."
Now, I don't know if that's true, but it's just an interesting consideration, and it would bespeak of the fact that the punishment fits the crime. There's a greater lesson to be learned. Here it is: Moses was chosen by God. You complain against Moses, you're complaining against God, as I mentioned. Here's the principle: no blow on earth goes unfelt in heaven. If I hurt you as my brother in the Lord, or my sister in the Lord, God will take it personally. If one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. If I touch you and hurt you and malign you, God takes it personally.
Saul of Tarsus is the example. He was killing and persecuting and hurting God's children, Christians in Damascus, putting them into jail. And the Lord stopped him in the middle of the road, and he said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting?" "Me? Uh, uh, who are you? I'm not persecuting you, I'm persecuting them. I'm hurting them, not you." No, no, no, no. If you hurt them, guess what? You hurt me. You touch them, you touch me, because they are the body of Christ. And somebody just hit my toe. Somebody just stabbed my finger. Somebody just poked me in the eye."
We're the body of Christ; no blow on earth goes unfelt in heaven. "So Aaron said to Moses," and I find this fascinating that he prayed this. He says, "'Oh, my Lord!' "He's acting very humble now, and sweet, and, "Yes, sir." "'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 who is dead,' "now, listen, this is such a guy thing to say, "'whose flesh as half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb!' "You know, it's like, "Okay, I know she's gnarly looking, but you don't have to, like, describe it like that."
But it's just---that's how a guy would describe it. It struck me. What I find fascinating is here Aaron said, "Yeah, you know what? He's not, like, the only leader. God speaks to us too. We have a connection with the Lord, not just Moses." Now he's saying, "Moses, please!" Wait, wait, wait, wait. If God uses you and speaks to you, dude, you pray. Right? It's what he wanted. Okay, so fix this. But he realizes now, it's like, "Okay, I spoke out of turn. I was wrong. My heart was wrong." And so it proves the point of verse 13, "Moses cried out the Lord, saying 'Please heal her, O God, I pray!' "
Would you have prayed that? Honestly, you might have said, "Lord, okay, heal her tomorrow." [laughter] One night of suffering is all they need." I have a question for you: Why Miriam? Why not Miriam and Aaron? Why does she get struck with leprosy, and it's like the dude gets off the hook? Wasn't he part of this whole conspiracy? Is this fair? Is God a male chauvinist here? I mean, where's the love? Where's the fairness? Well, I want to answer that because I want---if you're asking that question, you need to know the answer.
Notice in verse 1---who is mentioned first? "Miriam and Aaron," which indicates she started it. And if you say, "Well, you're stretching it." I'm not stretching it. Because when it says "spoke," it says "spoke"--- you see that? "Miriam and Aaron spoke against"---the Hebrew verb is in the feminine form. So what it means linguistically and the words set up the way they are in their order is that she's the one that started it and Aaron went along with her, which shows me that Aaron, though he is God's high priest, was not a great leader. He was easily swayed.
And what's going through my mind right now is back in Exodus when Moses is up on the mount and the children of Israel are getting restless and they come to Aaron. And they say, "Aaron, make us gods that may go before us; as for this man Moses, we don't know what has become of him." So Aaron said, "I took their gold and threw it into the fire." Remember when he told that to Moses? "So, so let me explain this calf, Moses. I took their gold, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf. It just popped out. It was weird, man." It shows the weakness of this guy, the lame excuses of this guy. God's anointed high priest, no doubt, no question.
I'm not maligning him, but it's insight into the imperfection of his character. And I smile at that because I'm encouraged by that. I'm encouraged by the ones God chooses and uses; aren't you? So he was swayed. She's the one who started it. She's the one that gets it. There's a second reason: his role is he's the high priest. The high priest cannot be struck with leprosy. The nation will not have an intercessor. It was only the high priest who can diagnose leprosy and deal with the leprous person. So you remove him out of the picture, you've got a bigger problem. So he remains. He pleads to Moses. Moses pleads to the Lord.
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed for 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," a whole week, "and the people did not journey until Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran," down in that area that we talked about last week. So, she's put out of the camp. What does that mean? It means the whole nation can't move, their immobile till the week's up.
So it was public; her sin had to be dealt with publicly. It affected everybody else. Sin always does, by the way. If you think, "Well, I'm just gonna do this all by myself, nobody's going to check me out or see. I'm not going to hurt anybody. This is just like my own private little sin. Dude, leave me alone. I got my little jar of sin here, and you got your problems too. But I'm gonna sin in this area." Don't think you can do that and not affect other people eventually. It will affect other people. It might affect just your wife or your husband or your children, or the whole church.
But sin is never done in isolation. It always affects, to some degree, others around you. Whether it was Achan the Old Testament in the book of Joshua who took the Babylonian garment, the whole people, other people got judged for it. And they're several examples, or here. So she was put outside the camp. Well, we've taken a long time in chapter 12, but we're not going to make it through chapter 13. What I'm wondering is if we shouldn't try to do a couple of verses before closing time. And I think we have eight minutes, so we'll do that. We'll do just a few verses. Can we do that?
So we're getting now into chapter 13 where they're going to go check out this land that God said is your land. Right? [sings] This land is my land, this land is your---it's their land. They haven't seen it yet. Abraham has gone through it. They haven't seen it yet. They've come from Egypt. They've been at Sinai for a year. They're now gonna enter this land. They want to see what it's like. But things go from bad to really bad in the next two chapters. C. H. Mackintosh a commentator that I have read over the years said this: "Ten thousand mercies are forgotten in a single trifling moment."
"Ten thousand mercies are forgotten in a single, trifling moment." It just takes a moment, one experience, one threshold moment where doubt rises up and all that God has done and built is shaken to the core. That happens here. It says, "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I'm giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, everyone a leader among them.' So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel."
"These were their names from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; from the tribe of Isaachar, Igal the son of Joseph [or Yoseph]; from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea," watch that name, "the son of Nun; from the tribe Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; from the tribe of Joseph, that is, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi." Not sushi, [laughter] but Susi."
"From the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua." So he's the only one without any parents. He's the son of none. [laughter] Okay, so if you're not, like, playing with your iPad or iPhone right now, you caught that. Okay, good. I want to close with this, I think, very powerful point.
If we don't read the whole Bible like we're doing on Wednesday night, if we don't piece it all together, if we don't connect the dots, we'll be in danger of seeing myopically, very, very shortsighted. We won't get the big picture, the full picture, the whole scope. Because in just reading this, it sounds like it's God's idea that they send spies out into the land. Right? God said send spies that was God's idea. This is why we need to piece the puzzle together and get the whole picture. Sort of like reading Matthew, then Mark, then Luke, then John.
And it's like four cameras from four different angles get the whole picture. You need them all. It was not God's idea. God didn't need to have them spy out the land. God knew what the land was like. God said, "I'm gonna give you the land. I'm gonna lead you into the land." So, here's the real deal. Here's the rest of the story. In Deuteronomy, chapter 1, Moses giving one of his final sermons to the people of Israel says this. Deuteronomy, chapter 1, I'm beginning in verse 19.
He says, "So we departed from Horeb, went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the mountains of the Amorites, as the Lord our God had commanded. Then we came to Kadesh Barnea," that portal site from down south up to the Negev and up to the hill country. "And I said to you, 'you have come to this mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possesses it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken; do not fear or be discouraged.' "In other words, just get in there.
Now watch this, "And every one of you came near to me and said, 'Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way in which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.' The plan," Moses said, verse 23 of that chapter. "The plan pleased me well; so I took twelve of your men, one man from each tribe." The way I see it as I piece it together is first it was their idea, they told it to Moses, he said, "Sounds good to me." And they made their plan and so God said, "Okay. Now enact your plan. Now do it."
Sending out spies, I believe, was a demonstration of fear and unbelief. God gave them the land. He knew what they were going to face. He knew what was in there. He wanted them to walk by faith, but they were fearful. God had already spied out the land for them and brought them into the land. He knew the trouble they would face. They were to take it, but they're a little hesitant. They want to kind of get it scoped out first. And so the Lord said, "Go ahead. Send them out." And he permitted that to happen.
Be very careful about pushing your plans through without waiting on the Lord, without counsel from godly people. It could be that the Lord will need to teach you a lesson in his sovereignty and let you go through with your plan. Even though it's not a great plan, he'll permit you to do it in his sovereignty, so that you'll learn that lesson. So be careful, look for the yellow lights. Don't look for everything being a green light. Don't say, "You know, I'm going to put a green sticker on that red light and just go." And so he sent them and they spied out the land.
And one thing you'll notice, and I'll pick it up next week, is that the names that I read are all different from the other lists of the leaders of the tribes that numbered the people so far. They're different men, and for a good reason, this is a scouting them. Those first lists of men, those leaders were probably older guys, they were elders, they were seen in positions of authority. These are the young bucks. They're going to go on a hike. They're going on reconnaissance. They're the infantry. They're going to scout out and spy out the land, bring stuff back, the fruit, to show everybody.
What also is amazing is---did you notice that I had to go through these names slowly? You know why? They're unfamiliar to us. We don't remember these names. We only remember two names, Caleb and Joshua, for a very important reason. And that reason I'm going to tell you next week as we pick this up and go through this chapter and, perhaps, chapter 14 together.
Father, thank you. Lord, thank you that we get personal insight into the family of a great man whom you said was faithful, a man whom you spoke to, a man whom you chose as a leader; obviously, not a perfect man, had certain leadership skills, but far from being a strong, capable leader. But he was faithful. And it wasn't his ability, nor his capability, but it was his dependability. You counted on him. He was faithful. He was loyal.
And so, Lord, all of these things give us great encouragement; encourage because we know our imperfections. And our family around us certainly knows them very well. And, yet, you have desired to share with us in the holy things of God and your plan on the earth, and we fit into your plan in a very unique way. Help us to discover what that is and to flow with it and to be blessed because of it, in Jesus' name, amen.