In the Old testament of the Bible, in Numbers 12, we see a trial of a different kind.
Plaintiffs: Miriam and Aaron
Crime: Marriage with a Cushite
Note: Cush or Kush was the eldest son of Ham, a son of Noah. He was the brother of Canaan (land of Canaan), Mizraim (Egypt) and Phut (Somalia). Cush is an ancient territory that is believed to have been located on either side or both sides of the Red Sea. “Cush” is… ancient Ethiopia. (taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cush_(Bible))
Miriam 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.
The plaintiffs questioned the authority of their youngest brother. “Is he the only prophet here? Are we not also to be heard? Don’t our words count as well?” And the Judge called a ‘hearing.’
3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
Why is this verse inserted here? We will find out later.
4 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. 5 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,
The Judge summoned the accused and the plaintiffs. The court was held at the tent of meeting – Tabernacle; a portable dwelling place of God, where the Israelites congregate to meet God from their exodus from Egypt up to their conquest/entry into Canaan.
6 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. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 8 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?” 9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.
And the Lord pronounced his judgment (v.6-8). He addressed the questions of the plaintiffs. He compared the usual prophets and the unusual Moses. God reveals himself to regular prophets (like Miriam and Aaron) in visions and dreams. BUT God speaks to Moses face to face. He even got to “see” God (See Exodus 33:23).
God vindicated Moses. He gave Moses his credentials: His servant who is faithful in all his house e.g. Moses is the most faithful prophet/messenger/servant in God’s household.
The plaintiffs became the accused. “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” The Judge was very angry with the plaintiffs.
Final verdict: Miriam got leprosy for speaking against God’s faithful servant, Moses.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—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.”
So Aaron (the plaintiff-turned-accused) made an appeal… not to the Judge (who already left the court), but to the vindicated accused, Moses. Aaron confessed their sin. He admitted that they were foolish. He humbly asked Moses (calling him ‘lord’) to forgive.
13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “Please, God, heal her!”
And the ‘humble’ servant of the Lord (the most humble person on the face of the earth) finally spoke. How? He cried out. He appealed to the Judge to take away the punishment. Appeal denied.
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.”
And so concluded the trial in the wilderness – a special trial of a different kind.. one where the plaintiffs became the accused and the vindicated accused appealed to the Judge to lighten the punishment of his accusers. How and why?
Now Moses was a very humble, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (V. 3)
What can we learn from this story?
Lessons On humility:
It is human nature for self-defense when accused. It is not easy to stay silent. Our reputation is at stake. Perhaps Moses stayed silent because what his sister said of him was true. He did indeed marry a Cushite. And God indeed spoke through his siblings as well.
A humble person considers others better than himself. A humble person has no need to defend himself. He is at peace with others and himself. Moses did not retaliate. He even prayed for God to heal Miriam.
Lessons on friendship with God:
Moses was God’s friend and confidante. He was God’s faithful servant. God revealed to Moses his thoughts and plans for the Israel people. Moses talked with God face to face. He asked to see God and God put in the cleft of the rock to cover him and let him see His back. God listened to Moses’ plea for his people – for forgiveness, for mercy to spare them from His wrath.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! What an honor to be God’s friend! God indeed gives grace to the humble just as he rejects the proud. Moses’ humility puts him in friendship with God. God heard the accusations. God defended him. God lifted him up.
Friendship with God calls for humble obedience to God’s word. It is about being faithful and loyal to God’s cause. It is seeing God in everything. It is opening our eyes and ears to what God has to say. The world distracts us, it clouds our eyes and dulls our ears with pleasures of the flesh, temporal things that give momentary pleasure. Things of the world pass away but the word of God stands forever.
Dear reader, are you friends with God? Read the Bible and know God. Let him be your friend.