Monday, 9 January 2012

Matriarch's on a Monday - Miriam

I have to say, firstly, that I am really enjoying studying these "matriarchs" and sharing my findings with you!  What a blessing it is to look for lessons to be learnt, from these ladies of old.  Often, the Lord has been showing me things that I had never before thought of, or seen!

So, on to today's.  Miriam.  She is the first lady we have considered, who is not a married woman!  That does not mean that we have nothing to learn from her - oh no! We don't have to share the exact circumstances with someone, in order to learn from them.

Last week, we thought a little about Miriam's early years - in relation to her younger brother, Moses.  She was given a vital role to play in the faith-testing situation that came about.  She was sent to keep watch over her little brother - to make sure he was safe, and to find out what would become of him.  She was the one that was able to run back to her mother, Jochebed, with the almost unbelieveable news - that the Pharaoh's daughter wished to adopt him as her son, and wished for a Hebrew mother to nurse and wean him.  HIS OWN mother! What a wondrous reception Miriam must have had from her mother.

The next time we read of Miriam, she has another joyful role to play.  We find her leading the Israelite women in a song of triumph, as they had passed through the Red Sea in safety.  What a joyous occassion that must have been.  Tensions had been high, as they were being pursued by the Egyptians.  They had seen them getting ever nearer, whilst they faced the barrier of the Red Sea.  And then - OH, so mightily! - God had parted the sea, and they had crossed to dry land!  What is more, the waters fell back, as the Egyptians attempted to follow them.  They were safe, and the Egyptians were defeated.

They didn't stand, with great "stiff upper lip" sincerity, and say "oh well - jolly good show - all is well - let us carry on"!  NO!  They picked up their timbrels (yes, like a tambourine! - all us Reformed ladies would do well to remember!), and (shock HORROR!) they DANCED!  They danced, and they sang, as they praised God for His saving hand upon them!  For His preserving power!  For His sufficient grace!  Who says that a holy life should be dour and miserable?!  (more to follow on that, when I share about the sermon I heard recently...)

They were not afraid to show their joy.  And, neither should we!  We should not be Christians who never thank God for His goodness.  Who never smile.  Who never laugh.  Who think that a Christian life should always be serious, and never joyful.  We shouldn't be dour, or starchy.  YES - the Christian walk involves a lot of issues that are serious and important.  But, at the same time, we have so much for which we ought to rejoice and give praise and thanks.  Not in words only.  Not just silently, in our hearts.  OUT LOUD! With a smile! With singing and praise!

 A little children's song I know, says this...

"When I put my trust in Jesus,
He made my heart so glad
That I put away my frowning face
For I could not be sad.

Oh, let the joy of Jesus put a smile upon your face
And let the joy of Jesus every little frown erase
Proclaim His grace, with a happy face, let His glory shine
And show the joy of Jesus on your face!

Did you ever meet a Christian
Who only could complain
Did you ever meet a gloomy grump
Who always was in pain?"

Oh BOY, do do I know some people that don't know what it means to live that principle!

"A SMILE?  You're KIDDING, right!?"

No, I am not!  We are to rejoice in the Lord!  The JOY of the Lord is our strength! In EVERYTHING give thanks!

Really, we have a lot to learn from the response of Miriam, to the victory over the Egyptians!

As we seem to keep finding, however, we seem to have to accept the "rough" with the "smooth" with these ladies.

A bit like me, really.

Hang on, who am I kidding...a LOT like me.

We find Miriam again, alongside her brothers - Aaron and Moses.  This story is humbling.  Challenging.  Spine-tingling inspiring.

It's grumbling time.  That joyful outlook she showed after the Red Sea triumph, was soon overshadowed by the reality of a sinful nature.

We read....

"And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."
Numbers 12:1

Ohhhhhh dear.  The old "we don't really much like the wife you chose.  You could have done sooo much better.  An ETHIOPIAN?  A FOREIGNER?  Not one of our own?  Oh, and since we don't like your choice in wife, we'll just start to pick on something else we don't like"....

"And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it."
Numbers 12:2

Simply put?  They were jealous.

They did not like the fact that Moses had a special role.  That he was the messenger, who brought God's Word to the Children of Israel.

"We are Prophets, too...Aaron is the High Priest....what makes Moses so special?", was their basic attitude.

God gave them the answer.

"If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 
 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 
With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches;"
Numbers 12: 6-8

We were also told a few verses earlier, in verse 3...

"Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."

There's your answer, Miriam.  Moses was meek.  He was faithful.  He walked in such a close relationship with God, that He came down and spoke to him, face to face.  As one person speaks to another.  Not in special visions.  That was something special all on it's own.  Miriam seemed to forget that in her moment of anger and jealousy.  She already had a special job, not belonging to any average Israelite.

But, she wanted what Moses had.

She wanted.

Well, there it is.  The answer to her question,  all wrapped up in her desire.  She WANTED.  She wanted something that she didn't have.  In wanting, she showed quite clearly that she didn't have that same closeness to the Lord...that same meekness of heart...that same faithfulness...that her brother, Moses, had.  That heart that led him to being ABLE to have that special relationship with God.

Oh, how dangerous WANTING can be.  Wanting something that someone else has got.  What does an attitude like that demonstrate?

It demonstrates discontentment.  It demonstrates that we are not satisfied with the blessings that we already have.  It's not an issue of a NEED, and seeking the Lord to meet it.  It's a WANT.  And, as we say to our children "I want, gets nothing."

Or, if we are not careful, as in the case of Miriam....

"I want, gets leprosy".

Pretty harsh.  Or is it?  Complaining directly to God, that He isn't giving you something that you WANT?  Like a spoilt and indignant CHILD?  Leprosy, for only a short time, seems rather tame, really.

Do we deserve to stand before our awesome God, and dare to complain that we haven't got something that we think we ought to have?

Us?...would we do such a thing?....

Oh, dear heavenly Father, forgive me.  Forgive me for the times that my defiant heart has said "why can't I have...they have got it,, so why shouldn't I?"

We have all done it.  We have looked upon the possessions, or the attributes of others, and WANTED.  Our only motivation being that we are not satisfied that they have something, and we don't.

I am not saying, for one little moment, that we shouldn't have a godly desire for something that we SHOULD possess.  Like a more meek spirit.  Or a more contented heart.  Or a more faithful life.  No, I am saying it is wrong to desire something with a motivation of pure jealousy and covetousness.

Let us not forget the good, in the bad.  God's mercy.  He could have struck Miriam and Aaron down - just as He had in times past, with those who rebelled and murmured.  But, God is gracious...merciful....full of love and compassion.  He didn't take her life - He gave her a chance to think about her actions and thoughts, by having her struck with leprosy, and cast out from the camp whilst she went through her period of cleansing. 7 days of being "outside the camp" - separated from all the others.  Time to think upon her sinful heart, and renew her relationship before the Lord.

Lord, show mercy on us this day...this week.  Cause us to not seek after what others have, but rather to work on our relationship with Thee, and take our thoughts away from what we have NOT got, and rejoice in what we DO possess.

Thank you Miriam.  Thank you for teaching us so much.

Dear one, go into your day, rejoicing over God's goodness and protection over wickedness, and guarding your heart against wanting what you haven't got.

1 comment :

  1. You took me back to my childhood when you were speaking of joyfulness in believers. When I was growing up, the happiest people I knew were the Christians. I truly thought (rightly, in many ways, though I was being naive too) that Christians must be the *only* happy people in the world. We had so many Christians coming into our home, and that's always my memory of them... fun, and kind. It was such a witness, though it seemed they didn't do it *just* to witness. It seemed that's just the way they were. A great lesson...

    As for contentment... oh, what a blessing when we have it, and what sin in our heart when we don't :(