“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. Numbers 12:2 (NIV)
To add insult to injury, Miriam and Aaron were losing confidence in Moses’ leadership. Aaron was the high priest and Miriam had prophesied when they came across the Red Sea.
God came down in the pillar of cloud and spoke directly to them. “When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses… With him I speak face to face… he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (12:6-8).
The anger of the Lord burned against them and Miriam was covered with leprosy. Moses prayed for her and she was healed, but first she had to stay outside the camp for seven days like a leper. This was very public—something to talk about over breakfast. Everyone knew about it.
Then we have the story of the spies going out to Canaan. They set up the vision committee and all they can do is tell everybody what cannot be done! Instead of giving their gloomy report to Moses, they announce it to all the people, and the whole community is thrown into a crisis.
The people have already spent all this time in the desert and now the vision committee tells them that they have no hope of hope of entering the land of Canaan! “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt!’…And they said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt’” (14:1-2, 4).
Whenever you have a climate of frustration, you always have potential for division and for conflict, and that is exactly what we find here.
Is there a climate of frustration in your family, your church, or your workplace that is already beginning to lead to conflict and division?