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A Reconciling Rebuke

Numbers 12:5-8a
And 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. And he said, “Hear my words: if there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.”

A crucial quality of the LORD’s discipline is that He doesn’t demean the good while admonishing the bad.

Far too often, we see a fellow believer fall into vice and decide that he never truly was a child of God; or we hear news of a Christian celebrity preaching a questionable message and immediately call him a heretic; or we feel aggrieved by a pastor who doesn’t reach out in our time of need and we call him a bad shepherd. How many times have you said to your spouse or your parent or your sibling or your best friend something like “You don’t love me!” or “I have no respect for you!” or “I’m done with you!”, snuffing out the fire of unity in blanket-statements of indignation?

But God doesn’t judge in that manner. He doesn’t tear Miriam and Aaron down here in order to lift Moses up. Instead, He begins His reprimand by affirming their prophetic authority. He doesn’t say, “You’re not prophets!” or “You’ve never spoken for me!” or “Remember that golden calf, Aaron?” No! He confirms their uniqueness to Him. He even credits the part of Miriam’s complaint that’s true before admonishing the part she gets wrong. And don’t miss the irony that permeates this whole encounter, friend, because it tells us a great deal about the Spirit in which God brings this admonition. Quite literally, God gives Miriam and Aaron a demonstration of the sort of face-to-face vision that distinguishes Moses’ prophetic ministry from theirs. He speaks to them ‘mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and they behold the form of the LORD!’ I’m sure they got the picture!

Friend, remember: if we reprimand our errant brothers and sisters without the spirit of reconciliation, we’re in the wrong too.