SOAP Journal – 14 March 2017 (Numbers 12:5-8)

Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: / If there is a prophet among you, / I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. / I shall speak with him in a dream. / Not so, with My servant Moses, / He is faithful in all My household; / With him I speak mouth to mouth, / Even openly, and not in dark sayings, / And he beholds the form of the LORD. / Why then were you not afraid / To speak against My servant, against Moses?”

Numbers 12:5-8

The context for this exchange is that Miriam and Aaron had been grumbling about Moses’ Cushite wife and how God had talked to them, too. There are a few questions that the context brings up, such as why Moses married a Cushite woman when he was already married to Zipporah and when God spoke to Miriam (there are plenty of recorded cases of God speaking to Aaron). Moses does not defend himself or his position. Instead, God calls all three of these siblings out to the tabernacle and has a little sit down with them. This morning’s verses are that sit down.

The first thing I notice is that this is God speaking. It was Moses who was challenged and Moses who was attacked, yet it is God Who answers the challenge and the attack. Miriam and Aaron grumbled against Moses and God answered their grumbling. I do not need to defend myself when I am serving God and being faithful in that service. My focus needs to be on pleasing my Master  – God – and not on worrying about what people have to say about me.

Next, I notice that God outlines how He interacts with people. He mentions that He would interact with a prophet – His usual spokesman to the Israelites – in visions and dreams. There is a way that God will usually do things. This is not to say that He is in any way limited to this one way, but rather that He tends to do things in predictable ways so that we understand that it is Him doing the thing. We human beings are nothing if not creatures of habit. And God knows this. So He tends to do things in very similar ways so that we recognize Him at work. Isaiah and Ezekiel both begin their ministry with a vision of the LORD. The patriarchs almost all had direct dealings with God and received promises from Him. The same is true for me as a believer. My experiences are common to many other believers. We have gone through many of the same valleys and climbed many of the same mountains, because God tends to work in very similar ways to produce the same outcome. My experience is not entirely unique.

Then God points out that Moses is a break in the pattern. While God normally speaks to prophets in visions and dreams, He talks with Moses openly, and not in dark sayings. There is no interpretation required in how God speaks to Moses. God just deals the hand open. God goes so far as to say that Moses beholds the form of the LORD. Moses has not seen the face of God – no one can – but he has gotten as close as humanly possible. This leads to a question: Why then were you not afraid / To speak against My servant, against Moses? There should be a healthy respect for those who hear from God and do His work faithfully . This is not to say that they are sinless or cannot be wrong – Moses was prevented from entering The Promised Land because of an outburst of temper causing him to do God’s work in a way that God had not prescribed – but that faithful servants of God need my support and prayer. Moses needed help. He asked for help just before this. Everyone who serves God faithfully will need help. Back to God’s question. I should have a healthy fear of causing problems when dealing with someone who is doing God’s work faithfully. I should be looking for ways to help, not to hinder or aggrandize myself. Moses did not even defend himself.

Let me focus on serving God and know that my experience will not be completely unique. There are nail-scarred footprints leading the way when I focus on following God and being faithful to Him and His calling in my life. Let me seek to be a help to those who are already serving God faithfully and to have a healthy fear of getting in the way of what God is doing in and through another’s life and ministry.

Thank You, Father, that You lead us and that we never walk any road that You have not walked before us. Thank You for those who serve You faithfully. Please work in me to make me a suport for them and a help wherever I can be.

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