Christianity 201

February 9, 2021

Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses

Because many of you may not be familiar with this story, from Numbers 12, I’ve copied it here in full:

NIV.Numbers.12.1. Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”

The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

One of the free resources available on BibleGateway.com is the Asbury Bible Commentary.* On this passage, it provides this insight:

Moses was to learn that a man’s foes may be of his own household. His sister Miriam and brother Aaron took him to task both because of Moses’ choice of wife … and because it appeared to them that Moses was suggesting that he was God’s vicar, that God would speak only to Moses and only through Moses…

…God’s response, for he cannot allow nit-picking and backbiting to go unchallenged, was to strike Miriam with leprosy. The reason Aaron was not similarly punished is because of either a minor role he may have played or, more likely, because leprosy would have disqualified him from the priesthood.

Happily, God defended Moses (vv.6-8) rather than Moses defending Moses. What Moses did do was to intercede for the healing of his sister (v.13). Noteworthy is the absence of any attempt on Moses’ part to defend either his marriage or his unique role. Moses is a humble person (v.3), one who feels no need always to get in the last word or engage in shouting matches with character assassins.**

This passage was also the theme for Devotions Daily subscribers on Monday.

A Prayer for Healing

by Stacy Edwards, from 100 Favorite Bible Prayers

So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” — Numbers 12:13

Miriam had dared to speak ill of Moses. But Moses was not only her brother, he was a prophet of the Lord. God took this offense so seriously that He caused Miriam to be covered in leprosy. It certainly wasn’t always the case, but in this instance her illness was a direct result of her sinful actions.

Moses’ immediate reaction was to cry out to God on her behalf. He prayed that Miriam would be healed of her affliction Moses expressed such humility in not only forgiving the original offense, but also pleading for the consequences of that offense to be removed from her.

How many of us have seen another individual dealing with the unpleasant ramifications of his or her behavior and failed to feel any compassion?

Perhaps we thought to ourselves, “Well, that’s what he gets,” or some such sentiment. Maybe we even fail to pray for our own healing because we feel that we deserve whatever it is that has happened to us.

There are two things that make all the difference when it comes to a seemingly undeserved healing.

First, God is a merciful God, and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

Second, prayer is a powerful thing.

The prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much good (James 5:16). Let’s pray for the healing of those around us.

God of mercy, I pray for those around me, that they would know Your peace, healing, and love.

Excerpted with permission from 100 Favorite Bible Prayers by Stacy Edwards, © 2020 Thomas Nelson.


*Learn more about using Bible Gateway: Using this passage as an example, go to the page for Numbers 12, and check out all the various free resources and the large number of other reference works available with Bible Gateway Plus. (It’s in the right sidebar on a PC, not sure how it works with a mobile device.)

**Asbury Bible Commentary Copyright © 1992 by The Zondervan Corporation. Used as educational sample excerpt.

 

January 3, 2013

Construction in Progress

Christian Under Construction

Today’s post appeared originally at the blog Into The Foolishness of God and was written by Shara Case.  It was originally published as  Hand Me Another Brick.

Nehemiah wasn’t exaggerating when he prayed to God saying, ”Hear us oh God, for we are despised” (Nehemiah 4:4). Called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and rally the exiles who were already “in great distress” the task itself was difficult. Upon hearing his calling, Nehemiah sat down and wept for many days (1:4).  He humbly accepted his duty and got to work. It wasn’t long before the enemy was also hard at work:

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble–burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building–if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” Nehemiah 4:1-3

Doing God’s will and His work means coming up against strong opposition from and enemy that would like nothing better than to see us give up and quit. I like smooth sailing as much as the next person, but it just doesn’t work that way in the spiritual realm. God’s people are mocked, teased, threatened and worse for trying to set about the work they have been given. What I love about this story is Nehemiah’s response: 

So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows. After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: “Don’t be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes. And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.” (Nehemiah 4:13-15)

This is how it’s done folks! If only we applied this more often to our own setbacks. Here are some things Nehemiah did that I find amazing:

  • He didn’t ignore the fact that there was a problem; It sounds crazy, but sometimes it’s just easier to stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best. The Israelites weren’t just being mocked, they were being threatened. Their task of rebuilding was in jeopardy. As the opposition grew, Nehemiah knew he could not just do nothing. God doesn’t want us to focus on it, but instead acknowledge it and take it to Him.
  • He didn’t respond directly to his accusers;  He looked around and addressed his own people, reminding them that the Lord God, “great and awesome” would fight for them. How hard this is for me sometimes, in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and instant news of all kinds where everyone has an opinion they want heard. We are called to speak the Truth and share it in the midst of all the backwards things the world proclaims – but we are also reminded to “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes” (2 Timothy 2:23) that only lead to more strife. Nehemiah knew it would be a waste of time arguing with those so set against him – he turned to his fellow workers and he turned to God.
  • He called on the people to PRAY and WATCH; they were to set their hearts to prayer, being watchful for what was to come. Watchmen were set strategically along the wall to be on the lookout for an attack. Being on the lookout places us in a far better position that if we are hit suddenly without warning. Prayer gets us into this position. One without the other doesn’t make much sense, but prayer and watchfulness put together make us strong.
  • He called on the people to PRAY and WORK; The enemy wants to back us into a corner and fill us with fear and discouragement so that we stop our work, or quit altogether. He wants us to sit around and fret. God wants us to keep moving! Nehemiah divided his people up and had half praying while the other half continued the work. They had been assigned something very important, regardless of the opposition that came, they were to stay on task. We do God’s work because we love Him, not because our circumstances are always favorable.

We all have walls that need rebuilding, gates that need fortifying, vulnerable places that need to be patched up so the enemy can’t have access to them over and over. This story encourages me to go after the things God has told me to do without the fear of failure or ridicule nagging at me in the back of my mind.  It is nice when things just seem to fall into place, many things worth having, however, are going to come at a price. How amazing to walk through that fire of discouragement, conflict and disappointment and come out on the other side just where God intended us to be.

“Those who built on the walls, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon”… (4:17).

There it is in a nutshell: Hold your weapon in one hand and keep working with the other! Don’t go about it alone, be someone’s watchman. Be a prayer warrior for someone who is hurting. Take your eyes off of the opposition and those who ridicule you – put them squarely on God and restore all those walls that have been torn down, they will be stronger than they ever were before.

Here is another post from the same blog I greatly enjoyed, the story of David rejecting Saul’s armor and going into battle with Five Smooth Stones.

March 20, 2012

Trusting in God’s Plan

Microblogging consists of posting very short thoughts and quotations and usually many, many  pictures.  There are a number of Christian microbloggers who use the Tumblr blog platform. Today’s thoughts and graphics are from Spiritual Inspiration. I encourage you to bookmark the blog for when you need a quick spiritual lift. Each one of the graphics and text that follows is independent of the others, but these seemed to form a common theme.

“I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13, NKJV)

We all go through disappointments, setbacks and things that we don’t understand. Maybe you prayed for a loved one, but they didn’t get well. Or maybe you worked hard for a promotion, but you didn’t get it. You stood in faith for a relationship, but it didn’t work out. One of the best things you can do is release it. Let it go. Don’t dwell on it anymore. If you go around wondering why things didn’t work out, all that’s going to do is lead to bitterness, resentment and self-pity. Before long, you’ll be blaming others, blaming yourself, or even God. You may not have understood what happened. It may not have been fair. But when you release it, it’s an act of your faith. You’re saying, “God, I trust You. I know You’re in control. And even though it didn’t work out my way, You said, ‘All things are going to work together for my good.’ So I believe You still have something good in my future.”

There is power in letting go of the past and the frustration of trying to figure everything out. When you release your questions, you are saying, “God, You are in control. I trust You.” And when you put your hope in God, that’s when He can heal your heart and lead you forward into His path of blessing.

“Then the LORD said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you’ ” (Exodus 34:10, NIV)
If you’re going to reach your highest potential in the natural, you will need to have supernatural doors open for you that you cannot open on your own. You’re going to need promotion, good breaks, divine connections and God’s favor greater than what you’ve seen in the past.

God said in Exodus, “I will perform great wonders that I have not done anywhere before in all the world. People will see what great things I can do because of the awesome things I’m about to do for you.” Think about that for a moment and let it take root in your spirit. God is saying, “I’m going to do something awesome in your life.” “Awesome” means “astounding, remarkable, overwhelming, breathtaking.” The key is found in the very next verse; it says, “Obey what I have commanded.” God’s ready to do His part, and we have to do ours. When we do things God’s way, we get God’s results. When we follow His Word, He promises to bless us with life, health, peace and joy. He promises to do what has never been done before!

“With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32:8, NKJ)
In scripture, the enemy was coming against Hezekiah, causing him all kinds of trouble, trying to keep him from his destiny. But Hezekiah didn’t get all upset. He just kept abiding, being faithful and putting God first. In Second Kings 19, God said, “Hezekiah, I myself will come against this enemy. He will receive word that he is needed at home, and I will cause him to want to return and he will be defeated.”

Notice that when you abide in Him, the Creator of the universe says, “I myself will come against your enemies. I myself will come against that sickness. I myself will come against those who oppose you.” It says God is the one who caused Hezekiah’s enemy to turn around. That means God can cause that unfair boss to take an early retirement. God can cause that neighbor that’s giving you so much trouble to decide to pack up and move. God can cause that classmate to be transferred to another school.

Today, no matter what’s coming against you, keep pressing into God. Put His Word first place in your life. Honor Him in all that you do. Let Him fight your battles and bring you into the land of victory He has prepared for you!

all pictures and text:  Spiritual Inspiration

June 30, 2010

Weeds in the Garden

Once again, here’s a post from the Webers who write a daily devotional blog, Daily Encouragement.   This one is from June 29.

“Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?”  He replied, “An enemy did this” (Matthew 13:27b, 28a).

We have really had the hot weather here in Lancaster County and it’s been rather dry as well. Nevertheless I am able to report that the weeds are growing extremely well in our garden and in various landscaped portions of our yard.  We have a couple of small garden plots in our back yard where we have planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, corn, lima beans and many herbs.  Popping up through the soil all around the intended plants are scores of weeds that appear to be thriving.

Our daily verse has often intrigued me.  Jesus is telling a series of “Kingdom” parables in Matthew 13, the most familiar of which is the Parable of the Sower.  The statement found in the daily verse is from the second parable which begins in verse 24.  This parable speaks of a landowner who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept his enemy came in and sowed weeds.  Later when the weeds appeared beside the intended crop his servants, knowing that he had sown good seed, asked him what most gardeners often ask themselves, “Where then did the weeds come from?”

Isn’t that also the very question we often have in our own lives and in the work of God? The answer in the parable as stated by the landowner expresses a vital truth: “An enemy did this.”  Later, in explaining the parable Christ plainly says, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil” (v. 39).  Indeed, this enemy continues his dastardly work individually and all throughout the world.  Martin Luther wrote, “But still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe.”

We must follow some good advice I recall my parents saying every summer after planting our garden, “You’ve got to keep up with the weeds!”  Whether we get down on our knees and uproot them one at a time, use a hoe or cultivator, or spray for them which we saw last night on our walk as we passed our Amish neighbor’s farm.

Now let me make it clear; I don’t attribute the weeds in our little vegetable garden to a literal enemy, but they’re sure a reminder of the truth of this parable.  Today, may God help each of us as we continue to overcome the work of our archenemy in keeping up with the weeds and let us also remember, “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

May 16, 2010

Great Opportunity; Great Adversity

This weekend, Canadian pastor Darryl Dash blogged about a verse I have used over and over again in correspondence over the past 35 years because it so often has described my situation:

In 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, Paul speaks of his desire to come to Corinth. He decides to stay put in Ephesus for the time being. His reason is fascinating:

But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective ministry has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

We get the first part. We’re used to staying put when there’s a door wide open for effective ministry. But take note of the second part. There were many who opposed Paul. According to Paul, that is a reason to stay. We normally take that as reason to leave. Paul sees the two going together. Opportunities and opposition often go together.

Craig Blomberg says, “In our transient age, we need Christians from all walks of life to go to a place and stay for a long time.”

It’s not like there is never a reason to leave, but let’s not let opposition take us by surprise. Expect it. And don’t miss the “wide door for effective work” that may be open as well.