Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it.
Once, many years ago, my mom was out shopping with my sister and my sister, just a small child at the time, saw a woman who was overweight. She, innocent thing that she was, asked my mom when the lady was going to have her baby. The point of that little story is this: We are heard.
With God, it’s easy for the believer to feel like they’re being ignored. I sometimes feel as though the prayers I pray meet with the silence of Heaven. No reply. No response. Not even a divine grunt of acknowledgement that I’ve spoken. Just silence. This entry is not about the silence or the reasons that may exist for it, but is, rather, about the fact that God hears.
Miriam had been instrumental in God’s plan to keep Moses alive. It was Miriam who followed the basket that Moses floated in; Miriam who offered to find a wet nurse for Pharaoh’s daughter; Miriam who brought her own mother—Moses’ mother—to be that wet nurse. It was also Miriam who led the women of Israel in celebration after the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea. She’s called a prophetess in The Bible (Ex 15:20), so there is no doubt that she is important to God. Aaron was made Moses’ spokesman when Moses objected to speaking to Pharaoh on the grounds that he (Moses) had some issue with speaking clearly. Aaron and his sons were ordained as the line of the high priest. Bit important. Add to this the fact that Miriam and Aaron were Moses’ older siblings and you have a recipe for complaint. Complain they did.
And the LORD heard it.
Now, their punishment seems harsh. God takes the time to call all three siblings out to the tent of meeting and give Aaron and Miriam both a verbal smackdown. Miriam catches still more and is leprous for seven days. Sucked to be her. Some speculate that Miriam caught more punishment because she was the instigator in the complaint. The Bible doesn’t say, so I’ll conclude that God has His reasons why Miriam got a harsher smackdown than Aaron and just move on. God even goes so far as to give the reason for their chastisement: Prophets are one thing and Moses is something else. God tells the two older siblings that He speaks to prophets in a particular way. Miriam would know this, being a prophetess. But God keeps going and tells them that He speaks to Moses differently. Prophets get dreams and visions and such. Moses gets the plain, unadorned facts. No symbols or anything like that. God deals the hand open with Moses. A person who relates to God on terms like that? God thinks they’re pretty special. But Aaron and Miriam didn’t think about that. They complained about Moses being the special one and Moses being the only one anyone thought God was talking to and … that’s probably enough to get the idea across.
And the LORD heard it.
What does God hear from me? I can be like Miriam in her Exodus 15:20 days, dancing and singing and generally praising God. God will hear it. I can be like Moses, standing in the gap between God and people; asking God to raise up more servants to share in the work He has given me to do. God will hear it. I can be like Aaron and minister to God on behalf of others and to others on behalf of God. God will hear it. I can do amazing good with the words that come from my mouth and God will hear every syllable. Or I can complain and make those around me miserable and God will hear every last phoneme. James tells me that bridling my tongue; controlling my words may be the single most difficult thing I will ever do. James goes so far as to say that the one who does not sin in what he says is mature (perfect) and able to control his whole body (James 3:2). God hears every word that comes out of my mouth. Every. Word.
What has the LORD heard from me?
Living Word, please forgive my failing with regard to my speech. I know that I have said things that ought not be said. I know that my words have not always been edifying and encouraging to others. I admit these to be wrong and ask that You would teach me how to hold my tongue when what I would say is not edifying or encouraging; when my words are not praise and prayer and life, but complaint and curse and death.