The unrest continues. In chapter 11 the people complained to Moses & the LORD yet again. Moses became fed up with having to deal with it all the time and he complained to the LORD about the people. So YHWH gave Moses 70 elders to assist him in leading the people. Every one of them spoke prophetically when the Holy Spirit descended on them the first time. Then the people’s complaints led to YHWH striking them with a plague.
Now, we arrive at Numbers 12, and it’s not done yet! The people are doing it; Moses has done it; now Miriam and Aaron are joining the fray. Everyone’s airing their complaints, now they are going to as well. A while back, before the whole Exodus trip, Moses had been in the wilderness for 40 years and while there he married a woman of the people of Cush instead of an Israelite woman. This is part of the problem as this is what leads into the other complaint, the real issue. Miriam and Aaron use this as a stepping point to help justify their big complaint. Moses is getting all of the glory! He leads, and now he has just given these other people, these 70 elders some of the leadership and authority given to him by YHWH!
How do we know that these 70 elders are worthy of being leaders? The Holy Spirit came upon them and they prophesied! So if proof of God / YHWH’s divine calling is to prophesy, Miriam & Aaron should be able to lead as well!
Why does Moses get to do all the leading? YHWH has obviously spoken in and through them as well. These other leaders have only been doing this for a day and they are leaders of the people. Miriam and Aaron have been at the forefront, been actively involved, and have been prophesying (being a mouthpiece of YHWH) since before Egypt for Aaron, and at least since they crossed the Red Sea for Miriam! Yet here they are, playing second fiddle to these underlings!
Does that sound familiar to some of you? Was there some merit in their argument? Absolutely!… kind of. They had been used by YHWH that whole time. Aaron had even performed miracles in Egypt. The reality is that Miraim and Aaron had been leaders the entire time. They did not have the titles that these other “leaders” were given (although Aaron was High Priest), but they were just as much leaders, if not even more, than those appointed. So what happens to Miriam and Aaron when they, as leaders, speak out against Moses, YHWH’s chosen leader? “…behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow…” Miriam was the leader in this complaining (hence her name showing up first), so she received the responsibility and the brunt. She got what she asked for. She was the leader and she got the punishment. Even then, her leadership was proven. She ended up cast out of the camp for a week because of her uncleanness from the leprosy, and the whole congregation refused to leave where they were until she was back where she belonged. THAT’S what a good leader looks like! She may not have had the title she wanted, but she was a leader.
Are we so caught up in titles that we lose focus on our purpose? Do we get upset when someone lower than us is “given” a leadership role we “deserve”? Be careful what you speak against YHWH’s anointed. YHWH does not take that criticism lightly.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
Jesus sermon while on the mount continues through chapter 6 and into 7. Here we get into more depth of life and ministry. Jesus begins to deal with what it means to serve and worship Him. Here we begin to see and get an understanding of what religion is, our purpose, and having a relationship with the Father.
From chapter 5 to 6 there is a transition from dealing with personal relationships to how we relate to the world and to God. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and religious leaders because while they obey the letter of the law, they do so for personal and political gain. It’s not that they care for the poor and orphans. It’s that they desire to show the world that they are obeying the commands of God. Meanwhile Jesus is saying here not that doing those kinds of things is wrong, they’re not. In fact the pharisees are completely correct in giving to the poor and praying and fasting and everything else. The issue is not so much in what they do, rather it’s in how they do it.
Jesus the Christ seems to be saying here that why and how we do what we do may be even more important than our doing it. He tells the disciples that the pharisees have the action and obedience right, which was more than most, but at the same time He was very critical of them for how and why they were doing it:
Give to the poor, but do it in secret so you will have treasure in heaven.
Pray like this, but not in vain repetitions.
Forgive others so it may be forgiven you.
Make sure you fast, but don’t let others see or know you are fasting.
Don’t store up your treasures here on earth. Store them up in heaven where they have real value.
You can’t serve God / YHWH and wealth. You can either serve the maker or the tool.
Then last but certainly not least… Do not Worry! God / YHWH is in control. He provides all things for all. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will continue and be added. I honestly believe that this is one of the most accepted sins in the church. When we worry, we live by works and not by faith. We say, “We know You say You are in control, but I don’t really believe that. Not fully.” I know that this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.
Most of the sacrifices previously mentioned have been for the individual. Whether it was a burnt offering, or a peace offering, or a wave offering, or a grain offering. Each person would bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle to cover their own sins or for themselves and their families. However, the day of atonement is different.
The day of atonement is very special in comparison to the other “daily” sacrifices. The day of atonement occurs once per year on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is a time when all of the congregation of Israel was to get together at the tabernacle / temple for a special sacrifice for all. The day of atonement is about bringing cleansing to the high priest and his family; to the tabernacle, alter and tools of worship; and to the congregation of Israel as a whole. It’s about purifying and bringing all to right. It’s kind of like rebooting or restoring a computer. It cleans out the system and gives a fresh start.
This is very important over the succeeding centuries, and if it had been done and taken seriously as it should have been, it would have gone a long way to help prevent the corruption and downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. Yet it didn’t.
This principle still applies today. While it is important for each individual to come to repentance before the LORD, and that seems to be a lost art. Even more so the repentance of the nation. How often do we take responsibility for the sins of the nation. How often do we come to YHWH in worship of Him and seeking not only forgiveness and healing for our own sins but for those of our nation. How often do we take responsibility for the decisions and direction of the nation. It is something that the leaders of the nation especially are to do, but that the people of the nation need to pursue and take accountability for as well. It is our nation and our responsibility.
Rev. John Camiolo
So YHWH finishes giving the people His first set of instructions. They have heard His Decalogue and His various other commands, so now we get to see their response to this sampling of the laws. God starts out by telling Moses and the leaders of Israel to come up to worship Him, but before that happens Moses wants to make sure that the people understand what is expected of them. He doesn’t want them rebelling as soon as Moses and the leaders go up the mountain or anything.
So Moses starts out by recounting to the people what YHWH expects of them. YHWH told them once, now Moses tells them again. The people respond that they will listen, and they will obey. Great! Now Moses and the people sacrifice to the LORD, and Moses sets up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes. Then for good measure, he takes the evening / night to write down the covenant and instructions that God has given to him and the people. Then, to MAKE SURE that the people know and are aware of YHWH’s instructions, he reads the book of the covenant to the people!
Don’t you think that that’s a little overkill! I mean come on! They heard it from God Himself, then Moses reminds them of what they have already heard and agreed to, so they confirmed it to him again. Then after worshiping and sacrificing to the LORD…THEIR GOD, Moses wrote it all down and read it back to them the very next day! I mean come on Moses, didn’t they already agree to this TWICE! I mean honestly, what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think you will go up the mountain with the leaders and the people will forget everything that has happened and everything that they have sworn to do!?! Give it a rest already!
So now Moses and the leaders go up. The leaders actually see YHWH, the God of Israel! Wow! I mean, WOW! To see the LORD in all His glory! Now that is a life changing experience! Isn’t it!?! No man can see that and ever rebel or fall away… can he?
How many of us desire to see God? How many of us think that if we just see Him perform a miracle or see just a part of His glory it will change who we are and how we live the rest of our lives? He is The Living God after all. Is that enough?