Bible Studies For Life

Redeemed From a Critical Spirit                        Session 9                     1 MAY 16

EX 15:19 When Pharaoh send a military unit after the Hebrews lead by Moses, this unit was destroyed by God in returning the Red Sea to normal. But none of the Israelites got even muddy sandals.

EX 15:20-21 When Moses’ sister saw this; she held praise worship to Yahweh. Miriam and a chorus of women, using dancing and timbrels (similar to tambourines), repeated verse 21b as a refrain, perhaps at various intervals during the song. She said to “Sing to Yahweh”.

NUM 12:1-2 The verb is feminine singular, indicating that Miriam led in this criticism. The pretext used was Moses' marriage to a foreign woman (which could refer to Zipporah, Ex. 2:21, though likely it refers to a second marriage after her death).

However, the real cause was jealousy (v. 2): “Has he not spoken through us also?”

Commentator Fred M. Wood wrote in Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs and H. Franklin Paschal, editors, book The Teachers Bible Commentary, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1972, page 43:

“Jealousy of Miriam and Aaron Against Moses (Nun. 12:1-15)

The passage.—The Cushite woman whom Moses married was probably Zipporah. There was a time when she was not with Moses but her father brought her to join him again at Sinai. Up until this time Miriam, being an older sister, had a great influence on Moses' decisions. When his wife joined him, she probably took her place as the leading lady of the organizational team. In addition, her father offered advice to Moses which probably Miriam and Aaron resented.

            In fact punishment was given to Miriam rather than Aaron implies she was the aggressor in the revolt. She let jealousy rule her and caused her to oppose God’s designated leader of Israel. It was only when Moses pled for her to be spared that (Yahweh) agreed to lessen her punishment.”

            It must be said that called men and women are not immune from criticism and discipline just because they are called when the criticism is truthful and needed. Miriam had falsely criticized God’s called national leader.

NUM 12:3 Moses was very meek, i.e. very teachable.

NUM 12:4-5 Yahweh immediately called out all three from the tent, Miriam, Aaron, and Moses It was time to stop this nonsense. Moses’ leadership must not be undermined! Yahweh Himself appeared from the Pillar of Cloud and stood before the tent. This was a fact, not a literary phrase. Note (Exo 24:10 KJV) "And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." This was the Father, who appeared at other special times, but very infrequently. This appearance was a most critical time because it under minded Moses as the single prophet [a person who speaks for God]. The Father called Aaron and Miriam to come forward.

NUM 12:6-8 Moses was a unique prophet. God spoke to prophets through visions and dreams; but He spoke to Moses directly, openly, and not in dark sayings (riddles). This means the Father gave Moses the straight truth with no double or unclear meanings. Moses has SEEN the Father as He looks. The Father has a visual shape to the eyes of humans. That shape is (Ezek 1:26 RSV) "And above the firmament over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness as it were of a human form." Now Aaron and Miriam saw the Father themselves.

So many take out of their context the following verses to mean no one has visually seen God. This obviously is not the case. (1 John 4:12 RSV) "No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."  And (John 1:18 RSV) "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." The context is the Trinity at that time. Later John saw the Trinity in Revelation 4 and 5. “Seen God” is more than just visual; it means to fully understand the Trinity.

NUM 12: 9-10 The wrath of God turned on Miriam and she became leprous! Aaron saw this for himself. Why just Miriam when verses 1 and 2 state they both had the same thoughts? We can only surmise that Miriam originated the idea and Aaron went along with her. Remember, Aaron went along with the people to make the golden calf.

NUM 12:11-12 It may seem wrong for Aaron to address Moses and not Yahweh when he pleaded “And Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb." But this was Aaron’s attempt to turn from failure [repent] and acknowledge Moses as the single prophet of Yahweh.

NUM 12:13-14 The logic is this: If a father had to rebuke a daughter in this manner, a period of shame would follow (Deut. 25:9; Isa. 50:6); so how much more should Miriam be shamed seven days for mocking Yahweh's authority. The public nature of her sin called for public punishment. (1 Tim 5:20 RSV) "As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear." So even a man so close to the Father, did not always get the answers he wanted from his prayers.

NUM 12:15 (Num 12:15 RSV) "So Miriam was shut up outside the camp seven days; and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again." Note that we hear nothing about any repentance from Miriam. So this is also a story of God’s mercy for stupid actions by saved people. This is not unlike what God did seven times in the book of Judges. It brings to mind (1 John 1:9 RSV) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Also (1 John 2:1 RSV) "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;"


So just what is a “Critical Spirit”? It is trying to degrade someone for personal reasons. It is not offering criticism in a helpful and loving spirit. It is doing so because of being jealous in some manner and letting the jealousy determine the message of the criticism.

Paul had to deal with the same issue in (1 Cor 1:10-12 RSV) "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."" (1 Cor 3:3-4 RSV) "for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men?" Because of jealously their condition was inexcusable, for they had been saved long enough to have grown up. They were walking like mere men. Carnal Christians are scarcely distinguishable from natural or unsaved men.

            Christians have the capability to overcome and eliminate a critical spirit from their lives by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ while leaning upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The lesson title does not teach that a Christian automatically will not have or no longer have a critical spirit.


Marvin Ganote, Hobbs Study Class, Adult Teacher. Home Page: