Posted by: genelnicholsblog | February 15, 2015

a reminder

Do you remember when you were 7 years old? Yes, it’s a little fuzzy, isn’t it?  Okay, let’s try this: Do you remember when your child(ren) was 7 years old?  Are your memories a little sharper? Our daughter seemed so little, so young then, and in need of my complete protection and care.  I certainly did not give her important responsibilities at that time apart from, “put your toys up,” and “carry your plate to the sink.” Scripture tells of a remarkable 7-year-old girl; in fact we are fortunate to read about her entire life, even up to her death at a ripe old age.

The life of Miriam, the sister of Moses, can be divided into four scenes in Scripture: Saving her baby brother Moses, Singing a song of rejoicing after God parted the Red Sea, A terrible personal ordeal, and then her death.  Let’s touch on two scenes while going into a bit more detail with the two others.

Scene 1:  When Miriam was 7 years old, a decree went out from Pharaoh in Egypt that every Jewish baby boy was to be drowned in the Nile River.  Moses’ mother, however, knew that her son was different, maybe even chosen by God for a special life.  So she came up with a plan, in which little Miriam was pivotal. Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the Nile at certain ceremonial times in a netted off area of the river, safe from the man-eating crocodiles.  Moses’ mother painstakingly made a water-proofed basket in which to place her precious baby boy, and then positioned him in the rushes where he was sure to be seen.  This whole plan, however, was dependent on Miriam who watched the scene unfold from her hiding place.  At the exact right time, she stepped forward to tell Pharaoh’s daughter she knew a wet-nurse who could help in the care of her newly adopted son … she left out the part that the nurse would actually be the baby’s own mother!  Not only did Miriam pull this off, but she also kept the secret of her brother’s true heritage for years.  The name Miriam means “prophetess,” and I do believe her mother knew she was special from the very beginning.

Scene 2:  Many scholars believe that Miriam was actually more of a leader to the Israelite women than the Bible spells out, and the second time we see Miriam could be a clue to that.  After the entire Israelite civilization crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, Miriam led the women in a song of praise which has come to be known in Scripture as the Song of Miriam.  You will find it in Exodus 15.

Scene 3:  Miriam goes through a shocking personal ordeal during the time of wandering through the wilderness.  Again, Scripture alludes to Miriam’s leadership position along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron, but with the position comes great responsibility. Most scholars believe that Moses’s first wife had died, and he married another woman from Cush.  Hebrews frowned on marrying any foreigner, and Miriam and Aaron had obviously become very outspoken against their new sister-in-law.  Some commentaries also suggest some old-fashioned sibling rivalry was a factor; after all, Moses was the baby brother, yet he was the one in charge!  The story is told in Numbers 12:  While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them

God summoned the three siblings alone out to the tent of meeting and reminded Miriam and Aaron just how special His relationship with Moses was … and what His position was on criticizing His chosen leader: …with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?”  God was angry with them.  And just to make sure there was no misunderstanding about how angry … As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy

Moses and Aaron begged God to heal her, but God instructed her to remain outside the camp for 7 days before she would be healed. As a leader, her complaining was probably quite influential and the Lord clearly showed his displeasure in her behavior.

Scene 4 was the death of Miriam.  Their wanderings were almost complete; the Promised Land was so close.  But Miriam never set foot on that land (and neither did her brothers) for she died in a waterless wilderness called Zin and was buried there.

So Miriam was responsible and brave, resourceful and smart, commanding and brave, catty and complaining, jealous and … remorseful.  Sounds like any of us on any given day, doesn’t it?  Miriam had to be reminded (strongly) of who she was … a leader, an example, a prophetess.

Has God ever had to remind you of who you are? You know what I mean; maybe it was a subtle hint or maybe it hit you squarely between the eyes.  Let Miriam remind us of who we are and what we are here for – We are to be responsible and remember that our actions matter.

Their Story is Our Story.


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