Numbers Chapter 12

“Dealing With Discord”


Intro: We saw in our last study how the Lord had worked w/in the camp of Israel – Bringing about a Unity

A)By taking the Same Spirit that was upon Moses & placing it upon the 70 elders – Thus expanding the work & leadership in the camp


B) There was a sweet spirit that was the result of that – where Moses was just rejoicing in how others were being used

1)Well whenever the Lord brings peace the Devil is sure to try & stir up discord & Division – which is what we see happening here in Ch. 12 / Read


C) Now here we see that Aaron and Miriam began to hurl criticism at their younger brother Moses/  but Miriam was leading the way in this criticism

1) WHY do I say that?  3 Reasons   #1 v.1 Because she is mentioned first{ Biblical model – 1st mentioned = leader


#2 v.1 The word SPAKE in VERSE 1 is in the feminine form: The Implication is It was Miriam who directly criticized

1) Aaron simply went along for support

       #3 v 10 Because she is the one that is disciplined



A)At first it seems that her problem was w/ Moses Wife – Moses had married a woman named Zipporah – lived in Midian –Ethopian Decent


B) For some reason this bothered Miriam but in reality that was a surface problem /  she uses to bring up the Real issue / deeper issue on her heart

1) which is addressed in the next verse.

    V.2 Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?


C) Now this was the heart of the matter – this was the real Problem – the Real issue was Miriam’s Jealousy of her little brother

 1) She was JEALOUS of the MINISTRY that Moses was moving in

HOW do we know that her motivation stunk?

A)Because we are told v. 1 that Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses                         


B) IF their motivation was pure, they would not have spoken AGAINST Moses... They would have spoken WITH Moses


C) I have NO problem with people raising questions if they speak WITH me

    BUT - I do have a problem when they speak AGAINST me    

1)   Especially when they speaking against me to others – not Biblical


D) I have been more & more inclined when people come to me w/ a problem about somebody else – Wait  lets call them – get them down here –

1) Lets talk about this in front of them ! More often than not – they don’t want to do that – But that is the Biblical approach according to Matt 18


So Miram & Aaron came & spoke against Moses - Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?

A)This attack attempts to put Moses down, making him seem proud.


B) Their real charge is that Moses "goes about acting as if he is the only one the Lord speaks through," accusing Moses of pride.


C) They argue Has GOD not spoken through us also? This question is meant to lift Miriam and Aaron up.

1)   "After all, God speaks to us also. Shouldn’t we get some of the credit around here?"


D) Of course, God had spoken to Miriam and Aaron in the past - but He had not given them the authority to lead the nation. Like He did to Moses !!!


E) The fact that this happens after the Spirit of God fell upon the 70 elders makes me wonder if Miriam & Aaron were feeling a little threatened

1) Looking for some recognition – Instead of rejoicing that God was using others – they were trying to protect their position: Big 3 Moses / Aaron / Mir

So they came complaining & Challenging Moses’ AUTHORITY - Notice the last phrase in VERSE 2  And the LORD heard it.

A)Sobering words- The Lord hears EVERY word that we say


B) Every conversation on the Phone – every email – every dispute – God is listening in !!!


We never do anything so secretly everything is in  the presence of two witnesses: God and our own conscience.


C) Now Does Moses have a Problem w/ Pride ? quite the opposite / In fact in v.3  Moses is described as the Humblest man in all the earth

1)   Some translations render it Meekest – the two go hand in hand


D) Meekness is power under Control – and is a form of Humility – person who has great power but doesn’t flaunt it – doesn’t use his power wrongfully


E) But It is important to see Moses didn’t start out as the most humble man on earth; he grew up proud and confident in his abilities.

1) It was only after being forced out into the Desert where Moses was broken  of his Pride & arrogance that he became humble & Usable.


Well God comes to Moses defense:   Num 12:4-5

4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!" So the three came out. 5 Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.


A)God called - seemingly, in an audible voice - for all three to come before the tabernacle of meeting;

1)Now we might imagine Miriam and Aaron anticipating that now would be a good time from God to set Moses straight!


B) The pillar of cloud comes right down before the door of the tabernacle; then He calls for Miriam and Aaron to come forward.   God Spoke V.6-9

C) Now The basis of the complaint of Miriam and Aaron was essentially, "what’s so special about Moses?"

1)   Here, God explains exactly what is so special about him.


God says Most prophets receive revelation through a dream or in a vision; God speaks with Moses face to face.

A)What does it mean that God speaks with Moses face to face? Didn’t the Lord say in Ex. 33 You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, & live?


B) How then could God speak with Moses face to face?

1)   The phrase Face to face is a figure of speech, telling of great and unhindered intimacy;


C) Moses’ face was not literally beholding the literal face of God, but he did enjoy direct, intimate, conversation with the Lord.

1)   This is also demonstrated by the phrase in v. 8 And he even sees the form of the Lord;


D) This is what Moses had actually seen of God with his physical eyes - only the "form" of the Lord,

1)   Form = Shadow / something portioned out as a Shape – also same word is translated Phantom


E) Moses saw the  Back side - nothing specific, because he could not see the Lord and live.


Why did Moses enjoy such communion with God?  3 reasons

A)Because God needed a man this intimate with Him, to be a vessel of revelation & a proper leader for the nation through this time of the Exodus;

  1) This communion was a gift of the sovereign God to Moses.


B) 2nd  Because Moses was a humble man; only the humble - those who are genuinely others centered - can be responsible w/ such communion w/ God.

1)   God resist the Proud  but gives grace to the Humble   God was graciously blessing Moses w/ Intimacy

C) 3rd  Because Moses, according to God, is faithful in all My house:

1) His walk of righteousness and purity, demonstrated over forty years in obscure service of God in the smallest things, revealed the faithful heart God saw in Moses.


D) God blessed Moses for his faithfulness –

2 Chron 16:9  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.


E) God looks to bless & show himself strong on behave of those who will be faithful to Him – Moses was such a Man !!!!


So God asks Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?

A)As much as Miriam and Aaron did not want to recognize it, Moses did have a unique calling and equipping before the Lord;


B) And they were not speaking against Moses, "President of Israel" as much as they were speaking against Moses, "Servant of God."

1)   Pt was God put Moses in that Position & if there was a Problem God would be the one to  fix it !!!


C) Moses wasn’t beyond instruction – in fact earlier in the journey he received some very good counsel from his father in law about getting help

1)   And it would have been fine for Miriam & Aaron to come & speak w/ Moses – the Problem was they came to speak against Him !!!!


In this chapter there is a very PRACTICAL lesson for us Paul addresses the issue of being critical in his letter to the Galatians      Gal. 5:14-15   

 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!


A)Note this – Paul declares The Law is summed up in ONE word.... LOVE


B) We are told in the word 1Pet. 4:8  

8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."


Prov. 10:12   Hatred stirs up strifes: but love covers all sins.

Prov. 17:9   He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates friends.


C) POINT Love COVERS but carnality EXPOSES Love FULFILLS the Law..... But Criticism is the epitome of carnality


D) Miriam was one pointing out the FAULTS in Moses but In pointing out the SPOTS in Moses live she finds herself covered with leprosy

if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!


E) Leprosy was a disease of bodily decay and corruption; it was considered to be a "walking death" –

1) Miriam had a seriously advanced case of leprosy instantly. At this moment, God caused her body to reflect her heart.


Let that be a warning to us – that we don’t start to devour each other w/ our fault finding :

A)God has been good to me at times catch me in this – start talking bad about someone – He gives me a vision of my heart – BLACK / disgusting


B) When He does that – scare – wake up call – Bitterness & fault finding cause many to become deviled –

1)    You will begin to display Physically what is in your heart – if you allow yourself to go down that road –


C) And the more that happens – the more that we will reflect that as a body – cynical, negative & Judgmental vs Gracious Kind & Loving

1)    Not Tolerant where we ignore sin / But Gracious when that Sin has been Repented of { We all fail – we all blow it – Forgive & go on

There is NOT only a PRACTICAL aspect for us here... But there is also a PROPHETIC one

A)Deut. 18:18   speaking to Moses the Lord declared

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.


B) Jesus is the fulfillment of the picture that we see in Moses/ In fact

Jesus made only ONE statement about concerning His personality

Matt. 11:29   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls.


C) This is the ONLY autobiographical statement made by Jesus

1) Of all the things that He could have said, He chose to say that His life was characterized by meekness/ Not Power / strength / Holiness / but Meekness


D) When Jesus said that Moses was bumped from the number one spot by Jesus: But Moses in his meekness is a picture of Jesus Christ


Miriam and Aaron are pictures of the religious community that came against Jesus

A) Miriam was a prophetess (Exod.15:20) Aaron was the high priest of Israel


B) They were the big religious leaders As the big religious leaders they had a hard time accepting the authority and the ministry of their little brother


C) In the same way, it was the religious leaders... the Pharisees, Sadducees & the Scribes that had a hard time accepting the ministry and authority of Jesus

Mark 6:3   Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, ….And they were offended at him.


They were JEALOUS of His ministry - WHY?

A)They were Jealous of his Popularity amongst the People & Because He began to minister to the outsiders of Israel- Harlots and tax collectors


B) Just as Moses took on a gentile bride and it provoked the religious pride of Miriam


C) To this day the Jews are hostile to Jesus because of the inclusion and acceptance of a gentile bride- The Church


We also see a Parallel in that Moses did NOT defend himself against this criticism

A)He did NOT utter a word in his own defense / he allowed the Lord to be his defense


B) Even as Jesus did NOT defend Himself – allowed His Validation to come from His Father

1) It was God who spoke from heaven declaring His pleasure with His Son Jesus Christ/ Baptism & Transfiguration { This is my beloved son …..


 C) And when Miriam was punished for her sin – Moses responded to his sisters affection  Num. 12:13   

So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "Please heal her, O God, I pray!"


This is an incredible insight into the heart of MOSES - He did NOT look at himself as the VICTOR-  He looked at his sister as a victim

A)He did NOT say: "She deserves that and more"


B) Picture reminds us of what Jesus said upon Israel rejecting Him:

Luke 23:34   Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do


C) Now the Bible indicates that the nation of Israel that rejected JESUS WILL be healed.... WILL be restored

1) But Like Miriam, the nation of Israel is going to be shut out of the           camp  /  Miriam for 7 days /  Israel for 7 years


D) That 7 years is known as the time of Jacob's trouble    (Jer.30:7) 1) It is the time known as the Great Tribulation { it will be a time of

         Breaking & Humbling for Israel – prepared to receive their Messiah

During that time the Gentile Bride of Christ will be with Jesus enjoying the wedding feast of the Lamb

A) But at the end of that 7 years Jesus returns and we come with Him and at that time healing comes to Israel


B) May God help us to NOT be like the Jews who pride ourselves in our own religious fervency

1) But may we be submitted to Him and the way that He is moving


     May we LOVE one another rather than find fault with each other


May God help us to become like Moses.... even more so, like Jesus


     Not attacking those who attack us


     But in MEEKNESS loving them