Numbers 12

* God rebukes the murmuring of Aaron and Miriam. (1-9) Miriam

struck with leprosy, and healed at the prayer of Moses. (10-16)

1-9 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, #Heb 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, #2Pe 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.
10-16 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.
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