This next prayer is also from the book of numbers.
Each morning, a devout young Persian rose before daybreak to pray and read the Koran. On one particular morning, his father awoke and the boy said to him, “Behold, thy other children are lost in irreligious slumbers. I alone am awake to praise God.” The wise father replied, “Son of my soul, it is far better to sleep than to awake and remark upon the faults of thy brethren.”
Aaron and Miriam learned in a hard way that criticism displeases God. Both of them were angry with Moses because of his recent marriage and they were very quick to find fault with him. Because of this Miriam was struck with leprosy, seeing what had happened to Miriam, Aaron pleaded desperately with Moses to pray for her. So in Numbers 12:1-13, we have an account of Moses’ prayer. Miriam was healed after 7 days because of his prayer to God.
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. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.) So immediately the LORD called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So the three of them went to the Tabernacle. Then the LORD descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” he called, and they stepped forward. And the LORD said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the LORD, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not 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?” The LORD was very angry with them, and he departed. As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed. Don’t let her be like a stillborn baby, already decayed at birth.” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “O God, I beg you, please heal her!”
There are two vital lessons to be learnt from this prayer encounter.
- We must be very careful about criticism no matter how justified it may seem to us.
- Just like Moses, we must learn to pray for those who despitefully use us and say all manner of evil against us.
Now, if you look around and observe situations in our daily lives, you can tell that people tend to argue over minor disagreements and don’t actually touch the real issue at hand. This was the same issue Miriam and Aaron had when they came with their complaint. The real issue at hand was their growing jealousy of the influence and position Moses had. Since they were unable to find fault in the way Moses led the people, they decided to criticise his wife. Instead of facing the problem directly by dealing with the envy and pride that was eating them up, they chose to create a diversion from the real issue. Anytime you are in a disagreement with someone stop and ask yourself “Am I arguing over the real issue or have I introduced a smoke screen by attacking someone’s character?”. Ask God to help you deal with the real issue.
Jesus taught us that true children of the kingdom of God would live by these laws of kindness and mercy. My prayer for us all today is that God will grant us the grace to be merciful to those who criticise us. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44 NLT). Luke also says “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35 NLT). Although it may be difficult, be merciful to those who criticise, pray that God will be able to help you face them. Don’t be like the young Persian who woke up to criticise others.
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