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The rise and fall of
Miriam

 

We know about Miriam’s family from the book of Numbers chapter 26 verse 59..

 

The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.

 

And we read in exodus chapter 6 and verse 20..

 

Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

 

Even as a young girl she was used of God as we read in Exodus chapter 2 verses 2 to 9..

 

Now a man of the house of Levi (whom we’ve just learnt was called Amram) married a Levite woman (whom we’ve just learned was called Jochebed) and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister (whom we’ve just learned is called Miriam) stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and opened it and saw the baby. He was crying and she felt sorry for him. “this is one of the Hebrew babies” she said. Then his sister (Miriam) asked pharaoh’s daughter, “shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “yes, go” she answered. And the girl went and got the babies mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you”. So the woman (Jochebed) took the baby and nursed him.

 

Miriam played a vital part in God’s incredible plan to set his people free. And her part was only beginning. She was acknowledged as a prophetess -that is someone who clearly heard God’s voice and could speak those words to God’s people -and also as a gifted singer and leader of praise and worship.

 

When the Israelites crossed the red sea we read of her..

 

Exodus chapter 15 verses 19-21

 

When pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.

Miriam sang to them:

 

“Sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted.

The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”

 

Miriam was acknowledged by God as a leader of his people.

 

Micah chapter 6 verse 4

 

I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.

 

So here we have Miriam being used of God even as a young girl.

A woman who clearly hears from God and is acknowledged as a prophetess.

A woman who is a singer before the people and someone who others will follow in praise and worship.

 

And a woman whom God talks of in the same breathe as Moses and Aaron.

 

What could go wrong?  Let’s see.

 

Numbers chapter 12 verse 1

 

Miriam and Aaron began to talk about Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.

 

Note that the bible names her first rather than the more usual practice of naming the man first. While Aaron was part of the rebellion against Moses, it is Miriam who was at the root of it.

 

As events turn out we see that Miriam’s heart was proud, and full of her own spiritual importance, but it was the advent of Mose’s wife that broke forth the dam within her.

 

She had been spiritually close to her brother and no doubt enjoyed this oneness in front of God’s people, but when Mose’s drew close to this Cushite woman, it exposed Miriam’s oneness was not of God. It revealed that the brotherly closeness was not a pure and spiritual closeness, where they were one in the Lord.

 

Had that been the case she would have rejoiced for Moses and supported him. But Moses’ new relationship was merely the trigger that set of the release on what was really going on deep within.

 

Listen now to Miriam’s words - which now have nothing to do with Mose’s wife at all, but rather question God’s chosen relationship with Moses ..

Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”

And ominously the verse just ends with these five simple words

 

 “And the Lord heard this”.

 

What she was saying was this..
Who does he think he is? God doesn’t just speak to him you know, he speaks to us as well. Why does he think that he’s the leader?

The very next verse throws light on the subject. It says in brackets..

 

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

 

In other words Moses did not go before the people and lead because he felt that he was the best man for the job.

 

In fact we know that at the burning bush God was getting angry with him because he found it hard to persuade Moses to take on the leadership role.

 

But once Moses understood that it was the role he had been called to, he walked in that role in total obedience. (bar one famous moment of disobedience we will come to later)

 

Miriam had seen God’s hand on Moses, so she was not speaking out of ignorance. She was

speaking out of cold defiance and pride.

 

And because of Miriam’s anointing, because of Miriam’s spiritual credibility that had come from God, when she spoke out against Moses she was listened to. She was dangerous because she carried clout.

 

Aaron was misled, but she was the misleader. And God treats the two differently.

 

Let’s see what God does about this opposition to Moses within the camp. How does he deal with Miriam and with Aaron who was a willing partner in her line of opposition to Moses?

 

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 came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam.

 

When both of them stepped forward he said, “listen to my words; When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. 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?”

 

The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them when the cloud lifted from above the tent, there stood Miriam - leprous like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; and he said to Moses, “please my Lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away”

 

So Moses cried out to the Lord “oh God, please heal her!”

 

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.” So Miriam was confined outside the camp

 

For seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back. God afflicted Miriam with a visibly physical punishment and the lesson was not missed by anyone. No one wanted to go near a leper.

And if Miriam had a family that leprosy would have affected them also. She was put out of the camp, but even worse, the rest of God’s people were affected until such time as the Lord’s punishment had drawn to an end.

 

Note that Aaron repented immediately and asked Moses to forgive him. From Miriam there is still no mention of repentance. The pride is rock hard. She would take her punishment in silence.

 

Note that God dealt much more severely with the one who instigated the rebellion against God’s appointed man, rather than with the one who was mislead.

 

God loves everyone, but in His Sovereignty there have always been men and women that he has called especially close to himself. Not because they are better, but because - in His Sovereignty - he chooses to. Jesus was especially close to John, then close to Peter James and John, then close the twelve, and then to the seventy.

 

We read about this in John 21 verse 20

 

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them (this was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said “Lord who is going to betray you) when peter saw him he asked “Lord what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me”

 

In other words, his relationship with me is nothing to do with you, just follow me. If God chooses to call certain men and women closer to him than us then what is that to us. Our duty is to follow.

 

If we oppose God’s anointed, and if we stir up others to oppose God’s anointed he will move his hand against you. Even the mightily anointed David would not touch Saul no matter what Saul did against him, because as David said to his men, “he is the Lord’s anointed

 

Incredibly the people did not learn from this incident about this divine principle. In the following chapter Moses sends out men to explore the Promised Land, and when they come back, all of them except for Joshua and Caleb, bring a bad report which sets the whole community of Israel to grumbling against the Lord.

 

God declares that the grumblers, all, except for Joshua and Caleb, would wander about in the dry place of the desert and die there. They were the misled. But listen to how God deals with the men who did the misleading.

 

Numbers 14 verse 36

 

So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it - these men responsible for spreading a bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. Of the men who went to explore the land only Joshua and Caleb survived.

 

Still the people did not learn and one chapter later we read that Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On became insolent and rose up against Moses.

 

What a time Moses had just trying to be God’s man amongst His people -and their complaint was always the same..

 

Who do you think you are?”

 

We read from Numbers chapter 16 and verse 1

 

Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites - Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and on son of Peleth - became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well known community leaders who had been appointed of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “you have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them. Why then do you set yourself above the Lord’s assembly?”

 

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once” but Moses and Aaron fell face down and cried out “oh God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “say to the assembly, “move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram”

 

We jump now to verse 31..

 

As soon as he had finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave

 

We jump on a few verses to verse 35..

 

And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

Now you would say the people of God had definitely learnt the lesson, but no.

 

We jump to verse 41..

 

The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people” they said.

 

And God’s response? He immediately sent a plague that killed 14, 700 of them.

 

Note God’s increasing levels of punishment as the people continued in their opposition to his Anointed man.

 

First Miriam who was struck with leprosy.  God only punished the instigator and let her follower off with a warning.

 

Then the spies who instigated the grumbling among the people were struck with the plague and died and the people who believed their bad report were left in the wilderness. They never reached the land of promise.

 

Then Korah and friends plus the whole 250 who associated with him were put to death. The instigators first, and then those who followed.

 

And finally he sent punishment on the whole assembly which was reduced to only 14,700 deaths because Moses and Aaron interceded on the people’s behalf and stopped the plague. God listened to the cries of his close friend Moses.

 

Verses 47 to 50 read as follows..

 

So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them he stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague in addition to those who died because of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of the meeting for the plague had stopped.

 

Every church has its Miriams and its Korahs. And sometimes its whole counsels who oppose God’s man. And every church has its people who bring negative reports to the people and knock the heart out of them

 

God demands unity within his family. And a positive approach.

 

‘We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us’ ‘with God nothing is impossible’ ‘if God be for us who can be against us’

 

“Ah but that’s all right for you. We couldn’t afford to do that”  

 

“We tried that and it didn’t work”  

 

“You’d never get the people to come”  

 

“Our church hasn’t got a very good minister.”

 

Bad reports come from bad reporters.

 

We’re either building up or we’re pulling down.  

 

Or we’re doing nothing either way

Luke warmness is not popular with God in his Church.

 

If he has put anointed men and women into leadership roles within your assembly - whether it be house group or church then know that he will work through them and defend them. Even against you.

 

If you are under leaders who you suspect may be man appointed (well intentioned but dry and lifeless) rather than God anointed then when you walk in clear obedience to the Lord and do your part right then God will reward your assemblies obedience and remove man’s appointed and raise up or replace them with his choice, with His anointed. And if it’s only you alone in your assembly who is playing your part faithfully then know that even if the whole assembly is destined to live and die in the wilderness, then know that you like Caleb, will be rewarded and will enter the land of Promise. He may move you, or it may be you that He raises up. But if you just follow, he will take care of the rest.

 

(This is not talking about remaining under church authority that holds to and teaches an unbiblical worldview)

 

Remember when Peter said to Jesus, ‘what about Him?” Jesus replied, What is it to you.. you follow Me’

 

A story from my own experiences..

 

When I was just starting out on my ministry I was asked to drive a visiting man of God to one of his evening venues. How excited I was!  I got dressed up cleaned my car and arrived early to collect him.

 

As we drove off I tried to start a conversation with him but within a few miles this man turned on me and started shouting at me telling me to stop asking him questions. I had never been accosted this way in all my life by anyone let alone an anointed man of God. I was shattered.

 

Then slowly but surely I started to become angry. ‘How dare he,’ I thought. ‘Here I am serving him with a good heart and he’s yelling at me in my car!

 

‘Right,’ I thought, ‘you can get to this venue yourself’

 

We were on a motorway, it was cold, wet, and getting dark but at that moment I cared not. He was going to get there on his own.

 

I was just about to pull into the side of the motorway, get out, go round to the passenger side, open the door, grab him and throw him out of my car when suddenly into my spirit came these words.

 

“Touch not my anointed. Do my prophets no harm’

 

Oh!  That stopped me in my tracks. 

 

After a minute I turned to him and quietly said, “If I have offended you or upset you in any way please forgive me”

 

He gave me a gruff reply and then started to angrily rant on about someone the previous week who had not handled the stage lighting to his satisfaction.  He called the man a fool.

 

Nervously I said to him that Jesus said we should not call anyone a fool and we continued in tense silence for the rest of the journey.

 

I was glad when we got to the church as I needed time away from him. Time with God.  I needed healing.

 

As he preached that evening I watched from the back of the church, probably hoping in my humanity that God would not anoint him that evening, yet at the same time, having forgiven him in my time alone with God, I wanted him to do well.

 

And do well he did. Words of knowledge.  People set free and greatly encouraged.

A real sense of Jesus being at work.

 

We drove home in silence, and I left him back to the house he was staying in.

 

Over the next few days I had to have more prayer for his verbal abuse.  Every time I thought I was through the pain and humiliation the wounds would open again.  However by the third day I could feel life returning and life went on.

 

However a few days later as I was driving along a beautiful coast road the Lord suddenly spoke into my spirit.  He told me that the man in question had just repented to him for the way he treated me.

 

I was amazed that the Lord told me that, and blessed that the man had been convicted of his behavior. 

 

Naturally I thought this was the end of the matter.  But no.

 

Many months later the man was returning to our country to do a concert tour. (He is a gifted singer as well as anointed preacher)  My best friend, also a singer, was organizing the tour and he asked if I would help out with the stewarding at the local venue.  The moment I agreed the Lord spoke into my spirit and told me not to volunteer.  I was surprised and asked the lord why but got no answer.  Confused I told me friend that I could not steward for him.

 

Suddenly the Lord spoke into my spirit again. 

 

Just watch and see  what happens

 

When the evening came only a few people showed up. There were more stewards than people! The evening was an embarrassment.

 

At the other events the same thing happened. 

 

Few came or no one came and eventually the tour was cancelled with a substantial financial loss.

 

It was then that the Lord spoke again. What he said I will never forget.

 

“you’re my anointed too.  How dare he touch you!”

 

Amazingly from that moment on this man and I became good friends.

 

I am told that he sometimes mentions me favourably when he is preaching.

 

If I have walked in when he is ministering in public he usually calls me up to stand alongside him. We go for coffee together.

 

We pull and tug at Kingdom issues and there has never been a tense moment between us since then. 

 

(Yes he’s still occasionally volatile with others! But God has bonded us in his peace since that date)

 

Are you a Miriam, who was close to God’s man and then turned your heart against him and tagged it with some spiritual clothing, or are you a Korah, who stirs up and becomes the spokesman on behalf of a group of grumblers

 

Or are you one of the background grumblers who lend weight to Korah’s rebellion against God’s man.

 

God tells us in his word that because He loves his people he raises up kings in their midst, that these men and women might lead the people out of the wilderness.

 

Then Hiram king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon: Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them. 2nd Chronicles 2:11

 

But woe betide the man or women, or the men or women who oppose what God is doing through that man or woman.

 

You see even when Moses got it wrong and struck the rock instead of speaking to it, God still honored him in front of the people and let water gush forth.

 

Then privately He dealt with Moses on the matter

 

Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.

 

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." Numbers 20:11-12

 

David had understood this principle in his dealings with Saul.  He knew that God had appointed Saul and he knew it was not his place to lay a hand physically or verbally upon the Lord’s anointed.  He knew that God deals with those who He calls as leaders.

 

David continually resisted the calls of his men to destroy Saul but once he just cut off the corner of his robe without Saul knowing.  Immediately his spirit knew that even that was too much.

 

Then the men of David said to him, "This is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand,  that you may do to him as it seems good to you.'" And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe.

 

Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe. 1st Samuel 24:4-5

 

Saul was never called a man after God’s own heart or a man of God. He feared the people too much. A salutary lesson for all leaders.

 

Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 1st Samuel 15:24

 

Yet even when Saul had disobeyed God, God allowed him to be honoured publicly.

 

Then he said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD. 1st Samuel 15:30-31

 

The privately God had Samuel tell him of the judgment against him.

 

And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. "But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." 1st Samuel 13:13-14

 

Even when David abused his leadership position so terribly by committing adultery with the wife of one of his thirty mighty men and then had that faithful mighty man killed in battle, God still honoured him publicly.

 

Privately however he sent Nathan to tell him that the sword would never leave his house because of what he had done. 

 

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 'I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah.

 

And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.

 

'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'

 

"Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.

 

'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun."  2nd Samuel 12:7-12

 

Despite his terrible carnal transgressions scripture refers to him again and again as a ‘man of God’ and a ‘man after God’s heart’  He is remembered as Israel’s greatest King.

“Touch not my anointed”, God says. “Do my Prophets no harm”.  1st Chronicles 16:22

 

One of the churches favorite sports is to shoot down men of God. They work hand in hand with the accuser. Rather then thanking God for raising up such a person, they grumble against Him. Bring bad reports to the people.

 

Are you a Miriam? Or a spy with a bad report that makes the people grumble against the appointed leader? Or a Korah who speaks on “Behalf of a number of other people who feel the same way”?

 

If you are, hear this warning now, and repent. 

 

Before God inevitably calls you to do business with Him.

 

No father wants a family that is divided. God promises an anointing where there is unity. Psalm 133 says

 

How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live in harmony? It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down to the collar of his robes.

 

The devil knows that no unity means no anointing on the assembly. And so he attacks unity. God has put in place a principle for dealing with any objections within his family.

 

His word tells us that if you have something against a brother then you go and see him privately and speak to him first. If after that, you still feel that he has a case to answer then go back with one or two witnesses who can confirm the facts that you were talking to him about. Then, and only then, if having heard his or her side, you still feel under God, that there is a case to answer, you may speak it out to the whole congregation.

 

Know for certain that any other way is not God’s way. It is the devil’s way.

The devil wants God’s anointed at best, pulled down publicly, or at worst, so disheartened that they may want to give up, or be so disheartened that they become more prone to temptation.

 

If he can’t do it directly himself, he’ll use and I to do it for him - unless we submit to safety of God’s principles for such things. He’s the accuser of the brethren, and when you accuse, you hold his hand. You become his tongue amongst the people of God.

 

Most leaders hear about opposition through a third party by which time most of the flock will have been given the deadly poison to drink.

 

But listen.  God help the one who spreads the poison. And God help the person who drinks from the cup and passes it on to another.  

 

Romans 16:17-18 says..

 

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

 

Such people are ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, responsible for breaking up the potential for unity within their fellowship, and responsible for robbing the whole fellowship of a potential anointing.

 

Pastor Carter Conlon, suggests that if someone comes to you with a story against an elder or leader because they are ‘concerned’ and says ‘just between you and me’ ask them these questions.

 

1. Why are you telling me this?

2. Where did you get this information from?

3. Did you verify the facts?

4. Did you go to that person?

5. Can I quote you?

6. Lets you and I go that person and talk this over.

 

He is the same God today as he was yesterday.

And he will be the same God tomorrow.

 

As mighty Miriam found, even your leader’s anointing will not protect you when you stir up trouble against God’s anointed man or woman.

 

According to Rick Joyner writing on the subject ‘false prophets’ in his magazine ‘Morning Star’ volume 6 number 4 edition ..

 

Jack Coe, one of America’s leading evangelists dropped dead suddenly at 39 after publicly referring to Kathryn Kulman as a ‘witch’

 

Kathryn Kulman died quickly and unexpectedly after calling Bob Mumford a false teacher.

 

Sadly we hear no more about Miriam until Numbers 20 verse 1

In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the desert of Zin

 

There Miriam died and was buried.

These events were written for OUR good.

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come  1st Corinthians 10:8-11

These events that were written for our good were written so that we might have a healthy developed fear (reverence) of Lord God Almighty, and be wise in our walk before Him.

‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction’  Proverbs 1:7

 

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