From Failure to Correction
Ex. 15:19:-21 ; Num.12:1-3,8-13.15) Oct 21 2012
In this chapter, Israel looks back upon Egypt with a song of praise for their deliverance. Here is, The song itself . The solemn singing of it . Israel marches forward in the wilderness , and there, Their discontent at the waters of Marah , and the relief granted them . Their satisfaction in the waters of Elim .
1. The song of Moses for the deliverance of Israel.
Ex 15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider , He has thrown into the sea!”
This song is the most ancient we know of. It is a holy song, to the honour of God, to exalt his name, and celebrate his praise, and his only, not in the least to magnify any man. Holiness to the Lord is in every part of it. It may be considered as typical, and prophetical of the final destruction of the enemies of the church. Happy the people whose God is the Lord. They have work to do, temptations to grapple with, and afflictions to bear, and are weak in themselves; but his grace is their strength. They are often in sorrow, but in him they have comfort; he is their song. Sin, and death, and hell threaten them, but he is, and will be their salvation. The Lord is a God of almighty power, and woe to those that strive with their Maker! He is a God of matchless perfection; he is glorious in holiness; his holiness is his glory. His holiness appears in the hatred of sin, and his wrath against obstinate sinners. It appears in the deliverance of Israel, and his faithfulness to his own promise. He is fearful in praises; that which is matter of praise to the servants of God, is very dreadful to his enemies. He is doing wonders, things out of the common course of nature; wondrous to those in whose favour they are wrought, who are so unworthy, that they had no reason to expect them. There were wonders of power and wonders of grace; in both, God was to be humbly adored.
2. God rebukes the murmuring of Aaron and Miriam.
Num.12:1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)
The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. The pretence was, that he had married a foreign wife; but probably their pride was hurt, and their envy stirred up, by his superior authority. Opposition from our near relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this is to be looked for, and it will be well if in such circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and meekness of Moses. Moses was thus fitted to the work he was called to. God not only cleared Moses, but praised him. Moses had the spirit of prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets; yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he; and our Lord Jesus infinitely excels him, Hebrews 3:1 . Let Miriam and Aaron consider whom it was they insulted. We have reason to be afraid of saying or doing any thing against the servants of God. And those are presumptuous indeed who are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, 2 Peter 2:10 . The removal of God’s presence is the surest and saddest token of God’s displeasure. Woe to us, if he depart! he never departs, till by sin and folly we drive him from us.
3. Miriam struck with leprosy, and healed at the prayer of Moses.
Num 12:8 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?”9 So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 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. 11 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. 12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”
The cloud departed, and Miriam became leprous. When God goes, evil comes: expect no good when God departs. Her foul tongue, as Bishop Hall says, was justly punished with a foul face. Aaron, as priest, was judge of the leprosy. He could not pronounce her leprous without trembling, knowing himself to be equally guilty. But if she was thus punished for speaking against Moses, what will become of those who sin against Christ? Aaron, who joined his sister in speaking against Moses, is forced for himself and his sister, to beseech him, and to speak highly of him whom he had so lately blamed. Those who trample upon the saints and servants of God, will one day be glad to make court to them. It is well when rebukes produce confession of sin and repentance. Such offenders, though corrected and disgraced, shall be pardoned. Moses made it appear, that he forgave the injury done him. To this pattern of Moses, and that of our Saviour, who said, “Father, forgive them,” we must conform. A reason is given for Miriam’s being put out of the camp for seven days; because thus she ought to accept the punishment of her sin. When under the tokens of God’s displeasure for sin, it becomes us to take shame to ourselves. This hindered the people’s progress in their march forward towards Canaan. Many things oppose us, but nothing so hinders us in the way to heaven, as sin.
Nm.12:15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.
So only Miriam was stricken by leprosy, not because she was a woman or because her sin was any worse than Aaron’s, but because God in grace refused to deprive His people of the high priest’s ministry.
On the journey to Sinai (Ex. 16-18 ) God dealt graciously with Israel’s sins. But at Sinai the Israelites were given the divine Law. Now, on the journey away from Sinai, they are held responsible for every act! Thus when the people complain, fire threatens the camp . When the people demand meat, God provides quail—but with them a severe plague . When Miriam and Aaron oppose their brother Moses, God strikes Miriam with leprosy . Leaders and the people must learn to obey God, not to rebel against the divine order. We should see these judgments as instruction, and thus unusual expressions of grace. Very soon God will call the whole nation to enter Canaan. If Israel has learned its lesson, and obeys, all will be well.