Micah 6:4 “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.”
Eccl: 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
- The history of the children of Israel is the history of the Making of a Nation. (Jews in New York joke: Moses gave us Saturday off, Jesus gave us Sunday, if we had five more good Jewish boys we wouldn’t have to work.)
- To make a nation requires something more than common blood and language. Common beliefs, hopes and traditions need to be developed.
Israel had the raw material and the enthusiasm, now other forces would need to be present to begin the Formation Process
In come three figures that would help shape Israel’s destiny:
Moses with the function of prophet who operated with practicality, high principles, a great statesman and skilled.
The building of a community was beginning to take place, Moses was always aware of the near reality of a personal God.
Aaron: the priest, the pastor, the organizer of the religious life of this vast community. This position was so necessary for a people who have been disorganized and demoralized by long years of slavery in Egypt.
Miriam: to the prophet and the priest is sent a poet, the inspired singer, the one whose office and function it is to take the national hopes and aspirations and connect them to music. This was Miriam, not the gift of Moses or Aaron.
As is the case, many times the prophet finds himself removed from where the people live, often with many people admiring from a distance and even putting this gift on a pedestal.
Miriam was close with the people; her outbursts of song rang with human triumph. She sang as though the very life-blood of Israel was within her views.
- Miriam cared about Unity of her people, she cared about the destiny of her people and she cared about the mission of her people
- Today, Poets and Prophets are not the same; however, during this time there were great similarities. It was like an ‘open secret’, open to all, seen by almost none.
Let’s look at this incredible woman of God in three different scenes.
- By the Nile: 4,050 miles in length, rich in sentiment, the envy of all nations around Egypt. The Nile is the longest river in the world, stretching north for approximately 4,000 miles from East Africa to the Mediterranean. Studies have shown that the River (Iteru, meaning, simply, River, as the Egyptians called it) gradually changed its location and size over the years. The Nile flows from the mountains in the south to the Mediterranean in the north.
Ex. 2:4 “His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.”
With the Nile River as her background, we see Miriam watching the little cradle boat with her brother in it, this dark eyed girl, perhaps 15 years old, clever, sensible and confident. The entire world knows the story of how baby Moses life was saved, the resolve on the part of his Hebrew mother. To commit her little one to the ark in the bulrushes where Pharaoh’s daughter would find the baby and the heart of yet another woman would care and love this child.
Three women are involved in this saga: Mother, young Sister and a Princess. 1. Consider the ark by itself; it would only prolong the tragedy. 2. The Princess alone would have saved the boy at the cost of losing his nationality and his destiny. 3. Miriam by her intervention preserved both Mose’s life and his destiny.
- When God gets ready to change a nation, to lift an empire, to bring forth deliverance to mankind, a baby is born. He told Abraham his seed would be a stranger and a slave in Egypt some 400 years, but afterwards he would bring them forth with great substance. Now a baby is born, little Moses, for the purpose of delivering Israel from Egypt and God allowed him to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Placing him in a position for that hour when he would strike the blow of deliverance.
Nile produced life…the birthing of a Destiny
2. By the Red Sea
Ex. 15: 19-21 “19 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. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”
- Many years have now passed by, when the curtains arises, there’s a new scene. Egypt has vanished, another world has appeared, and the slaves are free. Again we see Miriam standing on the banks of a river, not the Nile, but the Red Sea. The armies of Egypt have been engulfed in the water; Miriam sings a song of victory.
- You see in her: Courage, passion and intense patriotism
Women in Ministry have not had it easy!
- We hear the song as a war song with Godly spirit…
Ex. 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation, He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
You see a direct link with OT Miriam and the NT Mary where Mary says, “Mary’s Song
Luke 1:46-48 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,”
Nile: Birthing of Vision and Destiny
Red Sea: Triumph and Victory
3. In the Wilderness
Deut. 24:9 “Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam along the way after you came out of Egypt.
Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
Num. 12:1 “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.”
- New scene, a new act of the drama opens, we have passed the Nile, the Red Sea, we have now entered the Wilderness, and we have left behind the songs of victory and of triumph.
- A cloud has settled over the singer, poet, the prophetess…a Moral cloud
Wilderness trials are hard…The Leader’s faith has been tried, the Leader’s temper has been tried and the Leader’s enthusiasm is on trial.
It’s hard to focus on the early ideals associated with the birthing of a vision or nation and with the great experiences of Sinai
In Comes: Disagreement, Disappointment, Resentment
- Moses has taken a wife from the Crushites, it was seen as a mistake by his sister (Disagreement)
- To complicate matters, Miriam feels shut out of areas that she feels should involve her. (Resentment and disappointment)
…remember…a three fold cord is not easily broken!
Num. 12:2 “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?”
When jealousy struck one man…”To his intense self-loathing, he found that the green-eyed monster of jealousy had its claws upon his soul. I shall never forget the sense of guilt and sin that possessed me over that business. I was miserable. Was I practically saying to the Lord, unless the prosperity of thy church and people comes in this neighborhood by me, success had better not come?
Num. 12: 2b -3 “And the LORD heard this. 3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
- It does not appear that Moses tried to defend himself…the Lord heard it.
- 1 Cor. 13 – Do not keep record of who is for you and who may be against you.
Miriam and Aaron were severely rebuked…Leprosy fell on Miriam
Num. 12:10-11 “10 when the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.”
- Aaron understood the sin when he saw the results of it…immediately he asks Moses for forgiveness
Look how quickly Moses came to her rescue when he says in verse 13 “So Moses cried out to the LORD, “O God, please heal her!”
- Miriam was subjected to temporary disgrace…she was expelled from the congregation of the Lord for 7 days during which time she has lots of time to consider the Nile, the vision, the Red Sea, the victory and now the wilderness, repentance and refining
Miriam came out of her cloud with an unstained reputation. She resumed her leadership by the side of her two brothers. She kept an honored name not only through the marches of the wilderness but through the long march of Jewish history, Miriam the prophetess.
Miriam never reached the promise land. Yet a death in the desert was a fitting close for such a life.
Things my mother taught me:
- Don’t be selfish or self-Centered
- Take pride in your work
- Move on!
- Nile = Birthing
- Red Sea = Victory
- Wilderness = Repentance