Scripture: Numbers 12:1 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Has the Lord 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 so than anyone else on the face of the earth. 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. 7 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face—clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. 10 When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous…
Observation: A key verse that stuck out from our passage today is v. 3 “3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.” What does it mean that Moses was “humble”? Here’s an excerpt from the New Bible Commentary:
“True humility consists in a commitment to obeying God’s will to the point of self-denial. Such self-sacrifice can leave a man vulnerable and forced to cast himself on God to protect and sustain him. Further, as he strives to serve God, he discovers his own weaknesses and failings, and in that way reaches a proper view of himself. Humility is not a negative quality (devaluing of self) but a positive commitment to service, supremely exemplified in Christ (Phil. 2:3–8). Moses showed humility in continuing to lead Israel through the desert for forty years, even though it was a burden. He did not defend himself but turned to God, who defends and helps the humble (Pss. 147:6; 149:4; Mt. 5:5; 1 Pet. 5:6).”
Moses took a lot of flak from the people when they experienced hardship in the desert. It’s hard for us to imagine how tempting it would have been for Moses to stick up for himself – to lash out at the people in self-defense. Yet Moses displayed humility by repeatedly appealing to God for relief instead of taking matters into his own hands.
Application: This is such a hard lesson for me – to resist taking matters into my own hands. Like many of you, I’m a person who has been given a fair bit of grace by God to get things done when I apply myself. This can be a great gift, but it can also be a trap. Sometimes I can get out ahead of God, acting when I should wait upon the Lord to lead the way. And when I do, it usually ends badly.
This is playing out for me and my family right now in the area of our housing situation. Since we moved back to Texas almost three years ago we’ve been expecting to buy a house here. But each time we seriously consider doing so, the Lord directs us to wait. So we continue to rent a house, while property values keep going up. This seems like a bad idea. We have been very tempted to do what seems right to us – but each time we pray about it the message is the same. Wait. So out of obedience we’ll be renewing our lease this week. I honestly believe this is now a question of obedience for us. Does it make sense to me now? No. Will it make sense some day? Maybe. Maybe not. This. Is. Hard.
Where might you be getting ahead of the Lord? What would it look like for you to display the sort of “humility” attributed to Moses?
Prayer: Lord, the bible tells us that your ways are not our ways. Give us grace to reject human wisdom and embrace your lordship. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.