Rev. Lear was standing in front of the hospital bed, staring intently at his beloved wife Ginnie, who was lying still in bed. Her face was pale white and her bony body told the story of a long-suffered patient. At least, she could rest in peace now, Rev. Lear was thinking to himself, there was no more pain, no more physical torture and suffering, no more emotional torment after almost two years, Ginnie was now in heaven, happily with the Heavenly Father. However, his heart still ached by seeing her arms full of remnants of the needles. The nurse standing by his side was covering Ginnie’s face with the white sheet while Shannon, his “mentally challenged” daughter was whining and crying for her mommy. Even though Shannon was already a teenager, she still behaved like a toddler, and it was very difficult to make her understand what had happened to her mom. Shannon tucked to her dad and kept on shaking him, yelling why Ginnie left her and did not even respond to her. Rev. Lear embraced his daughter and tried his very best to make her comprehend the situation, at the same time, his head was overwhelmed with all the ministries waiting for him at church; but Shannon ignored him and kept kicking and throwing tantrum. Rev. Lear was very hurt and his heart was tearing apart…..
Thank God that Tracy was here, she held on to Shannon, whispered in her ear for a while, then Shannon started to wind down and stepped out the hospital with Auntie Tracy hand in hand. Tracy was a close friend of the couple, she was a devoted Christian and fervent in serving the Lord. While Ginnie was sick, Tracy took care of Shannon and Ginnie all the time, relieving Rev. Lear, so that he could focus on his ministries and serve the Lord in full force. Shannon liked Auntie Tracy very much and would listen to her. Rev. Lear really thanked God for such a good sister in Christ. At this point of life, she was just an angel of the rescue.
After the Friday youth group, two girls were chatting….
Gal A: Did you go to the wedding last Saturday?
Gal B: Are you talking about the wedding of Rev. Lear and Tracy?
Gal A: Of course, the whole church was shaken! It caught us by surprise! I just couldn’t believe it, Ginnie only passed away for about a year, and Rev. Lear got married again!
Gal B: Since you talked about it, then I will tell you my thoughts, but don’t tell anyone! I think Tracy got a crush on Rev. Lear for a long time, and she was just waiting for the right timing to achieve her purpose….
Gal A: Well, it’s so hard to read people’s mind and know their motives. If Rev. Lear did not marry Tracy, who is going to take care of his problematic daughter, and how could he continue to serve up to par?
Gal B: Don’t you think less than a year is a bit too fast? It makes people question his love and faithfulness toward his wife….Do you want your husband to get married after you died?
The youth pastor was passing by and overheard their conversation, he said to them, “Who gives you the authority to criticise and judge your pastor behind his back?”
Your Initial Response
Did you ever criticise and judge any spiritual leaders behind their back? What do you think the response of God will be?
1Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.
2“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
3(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
4At 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.
5Then 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,
6he 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.
7But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.
8With 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?”
9The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them. (Numbers 12:1–9 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 First circle the reason and words that Miriam and Aaron used to criticise Moses, then connect the two groups with a straight line (Numbers 12:1, 2).
3 Circle all the words and works of the Lord (Numbers 12:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), and number them in ascending order.
4 Fill in the blanks. 7Not so with My servant Moses; He is_____________ in all My house.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Miriam and Aaron were the elder sister and elder brother of Moses but they criticised their own sibling. However, God actively vindicated for Moses and indicated that he was an extraordinary one among all of the prophets as he was a servant that God trusted.
1 Who were Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1)?
2 Why did Miriam and Aaron criticise Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1)?
3 Was it not Moses the author of the Five Books of Moses; Moses called himself as the humblest person on the face of the earth, did he boast without shame in that case (Numbers 12:3)?
4 What is the meaning of the form of the Lord (Numbers 12:8)?
5 Why was the anger of the Lord aroused against Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:6-9)?
Aaron was the high priest, one of the most respected and sacred religious leaders in Israel. Miriam was a prophetess, a spirit-filled leader among all of the women. One Bible scholar pointed out that Aaron and Miriam criticised Moses was not out of jealousy, instead they challenged Moses’ prophetic position as sole revelatory mediator between God and Israel. In the Hebrew Bible, “spoke against” could be translated as “criticised.” It was in feminine singular form, that is to say, implicating Moses’ sister, Miriam, as the leader in challenging Moses’ spiritual position. Owing to the fact that Moses married an Ethiopian woman, Miriam attacked her own younger brother. So, who was this lady? Various Bible scholars offered their views below: one, Zipporah had already died and this Ethiopian woman was the second wife of Moses from Ethiopia. Second, Zipporah was a Midianite and Cushite (Ethiopian) was a synonym of Midianite (cf. Habakkuk 3:7). Third, Midianites came from northwest Arabia and they were dark in complexion. Therefore, Miriam and Aaron placed Zipporah in the same category of the Ethiopians. Regardless of who this woman was, it was not that important. As Moses’ wife was not Israelite, Miriam and Aaron used it to challenge the status of their brother as the highest leader of the nation.
Miriam and Aaron criticised Moses, stating that he was not the only leader who received revelations from God, and they were convinced that God would also speak to them. God knew Moses was being harshly criticised by his brother and sister.
“Humble” was not the normal Hebrew word to describe humility, meekness, or weakness. This term conveys an individual’s devout dependence upon the Lord. The author of the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses) was Moses, and he claimed to be “very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” This was not an expression of self-centredness or arrogance, but a correct reflection of the relationship between God and Moses. Moses was properly related to God and he was the servant who fully depended on God.
After Aaron and Miriam attacked Moses, God spoke to the three of them, instructing them to assemble at the tabernacle. They obeyed immediately and they waited on God there. The tabernacle was a symbol of God’s presence in the midst of the Israelites (Exodus 25:8). In the incident that Moses the servant of God was criticised by two spiritual leaders, God Himself went to the tabernacle to vindicate for His own servant.
In the old days, God led the Israelites to travel the wilderness with a pillar of cloud in the daytime and with a pillar of fire in the nighttime. God descended upon the tent of meeting with a pillar of cloud now. He called Aaron and Miriam to come forward and let them know about the final verdict of the whole incident.
After careful observation, a Bible scholar pointed out there was a special structure contained in verses six and seven, and it was called a “chiasm.” For example, the meanings of the first and the fourth group of poetic words were identical, and the meanings of the second and the third group of poetic words that were sandwiched in between them were alike. By employing the poetic form and style, they are means to enhance the effect of the words.
|A Introduction: Hear my words (6)|
|B If your prophet is of Yahweh,|
|C In a vision to him I make myself known|
|D In a dream I speak to him.|
|E Not so my servant Moses (7)|
|E´ In all my household he is trustworthy|
|D´ Face to face I speak with him (8)|
|C´ And in a presence that is not in riddles|
|B´ And the form of Yahweh he beholds|
|A´ Rhetorical Conclusion: How then were you not afraid, To speak against my servant Moses?|
God clearly stated that He would manifest to prophets in a vision and also speak to them in a dream; however, Moses was different to these servants of God for the Lord spoke to him directly. God greatly commended Moses as the faithful servant in His entire house. He would not speak to him in dark sayings, but conveyed to him His intention directly. Furthermore, God was especially gracious to Moses and let him see His “form,’ that is, a likeness or a representation, but definitely not the very shape of Him. As a matter of fact, Moses had seen the “back” of the Lord (Ex. 33:23) and no one had such an experience. In other words, Moses was supreme over all prophets. God spoke to Miriam and Aaron in such manner as to point out that they dared to offend His greatly used servant, and thus they should be scared (Numbers 12: 6-8).
Numbers 12:9: After finished speaking, God departed from Aaron and Miriam angrily.
The Bible did not say Moses had a tremendous row with his sibling when he was criticised by them. The most noteworthy point is that, God not only commended Moses, but He also indicated that he was an extraordinary prophet.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Owing to power struggle or some other reasons, your close relatives might rise up to criticise you – an act of ugly human nature.
2 Memorise Numbers 12:7.
7But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. (Numbers 12:7)
3 Learn to respect those who have spiritual authority and status in the church.
4 Those who possess authority and status must learn from Moses’ humility, and we should lead the congregation with an amiable and easy attitude.
5 Even though others criticised you with evil intentions, you must learn not to redress injustice for yourself but leave room for God’s wrath.
6 Learn from Moses and serve faithfully in the church as a person of punctuality and promise-keeping.
7 Learn to be humble as Moses and live with others in harmony with God’s grace.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.