Miriam is the first woman in the Bible who had a patriotic mission. When she led the women of Israel in that oldest of all national anthems, "Sing Unto the Lord," four centuries of bondage in Egypt had been lifted. It was a turning point in Israel's religious development and a woman led in its recognition.
We can follow the life of Miriam, brilliant, courageous sister of Moses, and see how even though we purpose to do "unto the Lord" we can fall away, most importantly in her life we will re-discover how God forgives and by His grace we find restitution and can pick up the pieces and continue on. Of course it would be better to serve God w/o ever leaving His side!
We have the first picture of her in Exodus 2:4, 7 when she was a little girl. Here she is not named, but is referred to only as Moses' sister. Her courage at this time gives an indication of the kind of woman she was to become. It is also to be noted here that her mother Jochebed must have been a great example to her in the ideals of faith in what God can do.
As she stood guarding her baby brother in the ark made by their mother Jochebed, she showed a fearlessness and unusual in a little girl. She was then probably about seven years old. And even though she was awaiting the coming of a powerful princess, the daughter of a angry ruler who had decreed that all male babies should be killed, Miriam showed poise, intelligence, and fearlessness. When the daughter of Pharaoh came down with her maidens to the river,banks of the Nile to bathe and found the little Moses lying there in his ark, Miriam approached her quietly, asking if she would like her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. Somehow I don't think that this was pre-planned, that is what I meant when I mentioned intelligence earlier.
Never disclosing by look or word her own relationship to the baby, she brought her mother Jochebed to Pharaoh's daughter. The child Moses was safe at last behind palace walls, with his own mother as his nurse. And we think that God can not give us the desires of our hearts? He can - He does!
We don't hear anything about Miriam while Moses was growing up in the Pharaoh's house, nor do we hear about her when Moses is pleading with Pharaoh to release the people. But we can be sure that as she grew, she was serving her people, she was lifted up i'm sure for her service and the fact that she was the sister of Aaron and Moses. The prophet Micah attests to this when he says, "For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam" (Micah. 6:4).
The next time we read of Miriam's life in the Bible is when deliverance is at hand. By this time the Hebrews were departing and the 'buzz' about town was for sure the miracles that led up to this great time that God had worked through her brothers. Miriam now occupied a unique place among the Hebrew women, that of prophetess.
The next scene we find Miriam in all her triumph. A strong God driven wind had backed up the waters of the Sea, and Miriam led the Hebrew women across the dry sea bottom. Following them came Pharaoh's men in chariots and the horsemen. We can see Miriam her face radiant in this hour of her people's triumphant deliverance. The wall fell upon Pharaoh's men and she and the women following behind her moved forward through the midst of the sea when the waters were a wall on their right hand and their left. Miriam played on a timbrel and danced joyfully as she led the song: "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea" (Exod. 15:2I).
Miriam is the first woman singer on record, and she sang unto the Lord. She sang praises and it spoke I'm sure to the spirit of the people present. How often can a word we say - a song we sing, be uplifting, or damaging! Her praises brought to all who could hear a new found faith and trust in what God had just done for them. I'm sure this was such an exciting time! I can just imagine that this was Miriam's greatest hour! I believe that as she watched her brother float down the Nile, as she prayed for him throughout the years, and later heard of all the great things that he and Aaron were a part of at the hand of God that an excitement grew within her. She was a leader of sorts, I'm sure held in high esteem. Miriam was able to share with Mosses and Aaron the victory of freedom for themselves and her people.
The third episode we learn of in Miriam's life is far different than this one, and it happened quite a bit later. What happened? What could have brought this woman of strength to this place in her life? It was a spiritual fall, We see it come out as a stand against her brother Moses! She was not alone, Aaron also came to this point.
How sad it is when we have done so much good, been known to many as a leader, have been a good instrument in teaching the joys of the Lord to others, Then this. She is still at this point a leader, the same people are listening, are watching ... but now she is about to destroy all the good she has done in thier eyes, how many will turn from God because of this? How many will have their faith shattered? Although we are not to look at man but rather God, our flesh is weak and we tend to allow ourselves to let people and her walk with God dictate how we walk don't we? How many times have we stumbled because a "Hero" of our faith has fallen. There are testimonies I'm sure that attest to this. I know of several.
The sin of jealousy had stricken her, With Aaron, we hear her murmuring, "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it" (Num. 12:2). In this bitter side of Miriam's character, we have one of the most perfect examples in the Bible of woman's mixed nature of good and evil. We are all capable of this. That is what God is showing us here, "Take heed lest ye fall".
It is sometimes difficult to watch others succeed. It can be especially hard to celebrate the success of a sibling. Such was the case of Miriam, the older sister of Moses. Miriam had stood by as Moses was raised in the luxury of Pharaoh's palace. She had watched as God used her kid brother to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. She had remained at the foot of Mount Sinai with the people of Israel, while Moses got to go up on the mountain and enjoy a face-to-face discussion with God. Moses always enjoyed the spotlight. Her role was in the background in her eyes and less visible.
Another reason for Miriam's conflict with her brother Moses had arisen. He had married a Cushite. It is probable that Miriam, older than Moses by about seven years, had expressed herself quite freely against her brother's wife from an idolatrous country. That an Ethiopian should be raised above herself, who was a daughter of Israel, was, to her evidently proud spirit, unendurable. Because she had such pride in her own race, she may have told Moses that he should have chosen his wife from among his own people. Her great mistake was that she made her complaint public. It tended to break down the authority of Moses and to imperil the hope of the Israelites. She was not alone in her thinking. Aaron was a partner in the complaint, but Miriam's name was placed first. Probably it was she who brought up the matter to Aaron and influenced his thinking.
Can we relate here? How about with our husbands? Those over authority in our children's schools? Especially in our churches in regards to our pastors, teachers, deacons?
Rather than accepting her place in God's plan and serving with gladness, Miriam allowed herself to be overcome by feelings of resentment. She and Aaron attacked Moses' choice of a wife. Then they got around to their real complaint: "We're God's servants, too. Don't forget all the contributions we've made!" It was a dear case of rebellion against the leadership of Moses, and God quickly ended it by inflicting Miriam with leprosy.
There is a peculiar analogy between Miriam's sin and her punishment. The foul vice of envy had spread over her whole character, like the loathsome disease which had overtaken her. Her sharp words made more real the words James spoke many centuries later: "And the tongue is a fire,... it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature" (James. 3:6).
Leprosy, the pale plague of Egypt regarded as providential punishment for slander, had smitten Miriam down. She had become a leper "white as snow" (Num. 12:10). "And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee" (Num. 12:13). Though she had held a grudge against him, Moses acted toward her in a spirit of love. Probably when he saw his sister leprous, he remembered that he had once been stricken with leprosy, too (Exod. 4:6)
We can assume that the heart of Miriam was touched by her brother's love. Though she was shut out of camp for seven days, in accordance with the regulations of the Israelites (Num. 12:15), she was not shut out of the hearts of those she had led in their triumphant hour. Though wearied from their long wanderings and impatient at every delay in reaching the Promised Land, "the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again" (Num. 12:15). Doubtless the leprosy of Miriam's mind departed with the leprosy of her body. Praise God for a second chance, BUT do you see the cost? The road she traveled that brought her here? Is it worth it?
We need to serve in the place where God has put us, with the abilities he has given us. Instead of worrying about others, we need to "worry" about our own faithfulness. When we regularly thank God for the gifts he has given us, we find that we don't have the time to be envious of others--not even our siblings! What do you have to be thankful for you ask? How about waking this morning with another chance for God to change your course in life? Manbe it is a wayward child, is it not a blessing to be able to pray once again and have the hope that they will turn around towards God? What about that husband sister that is breaking your heart? Is it not a cause for rejoicing that you are granted another day at the throne of grace at his befalf? Gratitude can help prevent ungodly actions.
Like her brothers Aaron and Moses, Miriam did not reach the Promised Land but died in the wilderness; however, her cry of exultation, "Sing unto the Lord," which had signified freedom for the newborn Israel, could not die.
Praise God for women like Miriam was, and although she fell into sin she rose again to declare God's wondrous works. HOWEVER, there must have been days of prayer and weeping in her life after her spiritual fall. Days she looked into the eyes of those around her and wanted to take back all that she had spoken against her brother. She could only ask for forgiveness. Granted God had, most likely the people had, BUT does anyone ever forget? We must keep looking up, being grateful and desiring to be used of God, not to be noticed but so when we stand before God we can hear "Well done thou good and faithful servant".
Looking for more?