Humble Servant Moses

Humble Servant Moses

In the twelfth chapter of Numbers we read an account of the brother and sister of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, dissenting against Moses (Numbers 12:1-21   Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.
2   They said, "Has Yahweh indeed spoken only with Moses? Hasn't he spoken also with us?" And Yahweh heard it.
). The final sentence in verse two: "And Yahweh heard it," resonates ominously. But before the passage reveals the outcome the writer begins by declaring Moses to be "very humble, above all men who were on the surface of the earth." (Numbers 12:33   Now the man Moses was very humble, above all the men who were on the surface of the earth.

It is interesting to note that Moses is regarded as the author of the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch), but clearly he would not write this about himself. It is believed that this verse was added later by Joshua who not only succeeded Moses but knew him very well; in fact, in some versions of the Bible we find this verse in parentheses. What happens next is incredible.

4Yahweh spoke suddenly to Moses, to Aaron, and to Miriam, "You three come out to the Tent of Meeting!" The three of them came out.
5Yahweh came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the Tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward.
6He said, "Hear now my words. If there is a prophet among you, I Yahweh will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream.
7My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house.
8With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see Yahweh's form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?"
9The anger of Yahweh was kindled against them; and he departed.
Numbers 12:4-9

We see that God did not wait until some future meeting, but He was so moved to anger by their dissension that He took immediate action. He makes it very clear to Aaron and Miriam that Moses is not like some ordinary prophet, as if they should speak against any prophet of God, but Moses holds a unique relationship with God. One in which God speaks with him mouth-to-mouth (or face-to-face in some translations). Quite what this means is not clear. We know from the book of Exodus that no man can see the face of God and live (Exodus 33:2020   He said, "You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live."
). But it is clear that God is demonstrating that He communes with Moses in a most special, intimate, and unhindered manner which no one else enjoys. He then goes on to declare that Moses is faithful (verse 7), which from the mouth of God must be the most remarkable statement any child of God could ever dream of hearing.

Immediately after God departs we read that Miriam is struck with leprosy (Numbers 12:1010   The cloud departed from over the Tent; and behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. Aaron looked at Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.
). It is interesting that instead of addressing God, Aaron cries towards Moses, whom he calls, Lord. Aaron asks Moses not to hold their foolish sin against them (Numbers 12:1111   Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, please don't count this sin against us, in which we have done foolishly, and in which we have sinned.
). Whether or not this response from Aaron is for fear that he will be next or he has truly learned a hard lesson is not clear. However, it is then that Moses calls to God, "Heal her, God, I beg!" (Numbers 12:1313   Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "Heal her, God, I beg you!"

This is the first time Moses speaks during the whole episode. We are reminded of Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth." Of course, the passage in Isaiah refers to Jesus, who represented faith perfectly. But it helps us understand why God has allowed Moses to be described as being humble and announces Moses to be faithful.

If our God given ministry were attacked in the same way that Aaron and Miriam challenged Moses then would we have remained silent or would we have found a need to respond? In reality, an attack against any servant of God is an attack against God Himself. It is calling into question God's ability to choose wisely and His capability of enabling His servant to accomplish the task.

So herein lies a valuable lesson: when we are wrongly accused or criticised we should ignore the accusations and remain focused on what God has called us to do. One day God will call everyone to account. This is not to say that personal assaults do not hurt, but we must always be reminded that the destructive and critical actions people take against us are ultimately against God and they are heaping judgement upon themselves. For this reason it becomes clear why we are called to pray for God to show mercy to those that mean us harm. Their anger, bitterness, and frustrations are, in the final analysis, directed against God Himself.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27-28