While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words:
When there are prophets among you,
I the Lord make myself known to them in visions;
I speak to them in dreams.
Not so with my servant Moses;
he is entrusted with all my house.
With him I speak face to face— clearly, not in riddles;
and he beholds the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.
When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb.” And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her.” But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again.
Sometimes we can forget how tough God can be…
In today’s reading, God deals with Miriam and Aaron very harshly, laying down a strong punishment for their jealousy of Moses. But those were tough times for the people of God, and tough times demand tough action…right? Well maybe…but moving away from the harshness of the punishment, let’s look at how Miriam and Aaron behaved: like jealous, and then, guilty children! First they did something wrong by speaking out against Moses, and ultimately against God’s plan, and then when they knew they were in trouble they hid in a tent to try to avoid the consequences.
Of course they could not really hide, and when God came to call them out we can almost picture them looking down in shame and shuffling their feet in the dirt, and saying “I’m sorry”.
Like most parents would do, God then gives them a good talking too, but then punishes…very harshly (I do wonder why Miriam got the worst of it)!
As a parent myself, I can say that I did not like punishing my daughter when she misbehaved, but there were times when I had to be tough…but not nearly as tough as God punished Aaron and Miriam (especially Miriam) and not for long, as my daughter could melt my heart pretty quickly!! But as a single father, I often had no choice, but to be the ‘bad guy’ at times…even if I did not want to be.
As the perfect parent to us all, I would like to believe that God does not like punishing us either; even though we sometimes act like wayward children. I think this is why we get such a different vision of God between the Old and New Testaments…because God truly loves us so much, that we were given the gift of Christ, the gift of forgiveness, and acceptance, and love!
Perhaps we were given this gift because God saw that ‘children’ were going to be children and misbehave at times, but wanted to teach us how to do the right thing (like we try to do with our children) without having to be so harsh…so Jesus was given to us as a teacher, and a guide, only to die for our sins and rise as Christ, who is forgiveness and Grace incarnate; given because God knew we could never be good ‘enough’ on our own!!!
In this great act of love and forgiveness, God has shown us what it really means to be a parent: to love unconditionally, even when our children are not always acting as loveable as we would like them too…even when they are just being human!
Let us Pray
God, thank you for the forgiveness and Grace which you have given us! Thank you that you love us even with all of our faults and sins; help us to love our children in the same way, all the while leading and guiding them towards doing the next right thing, as we all strive to follow in the light of the Risen Christ.