Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)
Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.
Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?”
So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”
So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.
NUMBERS 14 NKJV
One of the things that Moses had to deal with was insubordination and rebellion.
It’s interesting that people opposed Moses’ leadership despite seeing repeated proof that God was with him and backed him up with signs and wonders. We often think that the miraculous will silence opposition but it can increase it by provoking people to be jealous of those who are seeing miracles in their ministries.
As is so often the case, jealous leaders will attack a man by speaking against his wife. Scholars differ here as to whether or not Miriam and Aaron were speaking about Zipporah or another woman. Cushite women were from south of Egypt and were dark-skinned. Either Zipporah was dark-skinned and called a Cushite as a pejorative term or Moses married a black woman. Whichever of the two, this looks like a racial slur against the wife of Moses.
The Lord’s response by turning Miriam leprous clearly looks like a message in effect saying, “So being white and fair-skinned is important to you? Well, is this white enough for you?”
Something else we should note here is that Aaron and Miriam both said: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?”
This reminds us of Revelation chapter 2 where Jesus speaks to the church in Thyatira.
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
REVELATION 2:18-23 NKJV
Clearly Miriam and Aaron were being influenced by a Jezebel spirit. This is a spirit that seeks to usurp authentic leadership. It is a spirit that is jealous of the anointing to lead which is upon a senior leader. Jezebel means “unmarried” or “unhusbanded” and it is very telling that Miriam and Aaron were seeking to attack Moses’ marriage.
It is sobering to consider that this spirit can afflict not only flakey people who are not in the leadership team but even assistant leaders.
It is interesting that Western democracies actually encourage OPPOSITION parties! This is not Kingdom. It is opening the door to rebellion.
God backed Moses’ leadership in a very powerful way – by making reference to the RELATIONSHIP Moses enjoyed with Him. Your authenticity as a leader is not based on your title or office; it is something that flows from your dynamic relationship with the Lord.
We need to remember that Moses was not functioning here as a pastor or evangelist. He was a national leader. We need to shift from the paradigm of separating Church and state in our thinking and realise that being a national leader is also ministry.
God delineated between different types and levels of leaders by saying with Moses He spoke face to face. God will send words and give dreams and visions to leaders but there is a level of intimacy that Moses walked in which was a whole new dimension.
Your leadership effectiveness must be based on an intimate communion with the Lord. It is a sad thing to behold a leader who seeks to lead out of his/her office and rank, rather than out of the flow of intimacy with the Lord.
Moses must have been really humble because the Word says he was the meekest man on the face of the earth. Moreover, he wrote this book!
Moses did not defend himself here. He allowed God to vindicate his leadership. If you hold your peace as a leader, God will fight your battles and vindicate you.
Leaders must not waste time and energy trying to defend themselves. In fact, the strength of character to rise above opposition and press on with what you have to do despite criticism is the mark of a good leader.
There is a truism that a person’s strength can also be an area of weakness.
Some time later, Moses reacted in anger to the children of Israel complaining about not having water and struck the Rock twice. YHWH had told Moses and Aaron to speak to the Rock but Moses disobeyed and hit the Rock twice with his rod. As a result, Moses was told he would not take the Israelites over to the Promised Land. Aaron was stripped of his garments of office and left for dead on top of a mountain.
A higher standard is required of leaders. To whom much is given, much will be required.