Day 11

Miriam and Aaron Rebel Against Moses

from the reading plan

Numbers 12:1-16, Acts 3:22-26, Hebrews 3:1-6

Imagine if your brother was your boss, your pastor, and your president all at once. You would have to submit, but it would probably get ugly sometimes, right? That is a bit like the situation Aaron and Miriam found themselves in, except with infinitely higher stakes.

As is often the case in families, they got upset about one thing—Moses’s marriage to a Cushite—and rolled it into criticisms about other things, namely Moses’s authority. But this was no mere family squabble. Aaron and Miriam allowed their bitterness to snowball into rebellion, and worse, this was God’s high priest and his sister taking a stance against God’s appointed leader of His people. The actions of Aaron and Miriam were treasonous against Moses and, thus, also against God.

The Lord made this clear when He called them to account for their rebellion. God appeared in power before them—a visible manifestation of His presence and glory—then laid out the charges against them. God gave His very words to His appointed, so they were to be listened to. God’s appointed leaders had His authority as messengers.

“I speak with him directly,
openly, and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the LORD.
So why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
—Numbers 12:8

Moses did not merely receive the words of God. He saw God. He spoke with God. He was God’s representative to his people. So when Aaron and Miriam rebelled against him, it defied God’s authority. And so God’s “anger burned” (v.9).

Alongside the authority imbued in Moses by God, we see something else: the mediation by Moses on behalf of God’s people. He pleaded for mercy on behalf of Aaron and Miriam, and God granted it. In these two ways we see that Moses was a foreshadowing—a type—of the true leader of God’s people to come.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to everything he tells you. And everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be completely cut off from the people.
—Acts 3:22–23

Moses points ahead to Christ, the one who is “considered worthy of more glory than Moses” (Hebrews 3:3). This story is not just a historical account of how God appointed leaders. It is a model of how we live out obedience to Jesus. Moses was a man appointed by God, a man who was invited into unique fellowship with God. Jesus is the very son of God, the fulfillment of all prophecies, the true and better Moses. So if we are part of God’s people, how are we to respond to Jesus?

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