Updated: Feb 27
Whisper 4, Jealousy and being petty.
Miriam's Story. A old testament Mean Girls story.
Miriam is a woman found in Exodus and Numbers of the Old Testament. I remember coloring sheets in elementary school about her and absolutely remember her from the Prince of Egypt, but a lot was missed.
The whisper Miriam brings to light is jealousy and pettiness. For as strong as Miriam was, she was not above such an easy temptation.
In our culture today, specifically one that brings another persons best to our fingertips by opening an app, jealousy is a big whisper. That is maybe the biggest lie being told by Satan right now to young women.
Being petty or spiteful is almost celebrated even for young women in our culture. No one ever talks about how freeing it is just to give up the drama to God.
How God chooses to bless one woman has no bearing on how he blesses me.
Being strong has nothing to do with going after someone else. Strength is God given. One woman's strength does not take away from another woman's.
Miriam was known as a prophetess, she, in fact, started prophesying before Moses was even born. When Exodus opens, it talks about how the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. That pharoah saw their numbers were growing too big, so he ordered the midwives to kill all the baby boys being born in order to reduce the numbers. The midwives refused.
Suspecting the mid wives were finding creative ways around Pharaoh's rule he came up with a new idea. Pharaoh ordered all baby boys to be thrown into the nile. The nile was full of crocodiles primed for the feedings. He was determined to limit the growth of Israel in his country.
Amram and Jochebed were part of the Jews living in Egypt and were Miriam’s parents. Out of love for Jochebed, Amram separated from her. He could not risk getting her pregnant and having to watch her go through losing a baby boy in this way. He loved her far too much.
Miriam knew her father was not in the home, but had a dream. After a days work as a slave, with no food to eat for dinner, the young girl came home and slept. While in a deep sleep, the girl dreamt that her mother would have another baby. But this baby would be a boy, who would save the Israelites. That her little brother would lead all of her people out of slavery. He would save them.
In Jewish culture, Miriam is called Puah, meaning whisperer. I loved this for our little bible study tackling whispers. Miriam, Puah, was tackling whispers from a young age. Her parents had so much faith in her that her father came back home.
Quickly after, Jochebed became pregnant with Moses and hid her baby boy for 3 terrifying months after he was born.
For three months Jochebed loved on her baby boy and prayed. “She saw that he was a fine child” (Exodus 2:2-3) She trusted the Lord and did everything within her power to follow God. Jochebed was a strong woman and momma, she had an infectious courage to fear God instead of people. She risked death by keeping this baby boy hidden but she feared disobeying God more than what might happen to her if she was caught.
God had heard Jochebed’s prayers, saw her heart and intervened on her behalf. She was the chief influencer on her childrens’ hearts. They followed in their momma’s footsteps of being bold for God. From a young age Miriam saw a strong momma fearlessly following.
Because of Jochebed’s strength Miriam was strong. Her momma modeled a courage for her that she took and ran with. Jochebed allowed God to take control of her children with her faith -his word did not return void.
Miriam was there as Jochebed wept and placed her precious baby in a papyrus basket and sent it down the river. Jochebed had faith.
Being ever the leader, Miriam followed that basket all the way to Pharaoh's daughter. She placed herself in just the right spot to ask to bring her mother forward to care for the baby, to feed the baby for Pharaoh's daughter. Miriam was so incredibly bold, God blessed it. Jochebed not only got to be with her baby, but now was paid to do so.
I, picture a messy little girl with ratty hair, feeling bigger than life in this moment . A girl who was taking big steps and swinging her arms proudly. That particular image does my heart so much good. How often as women are we called bossy or stuck up? Told we are too much?
Miriam was not any of these, she just had so much faith that God had her. She was confident and bold in each step because of God. She was bold because she knew her God had told her something and she believed with all of her heart.
Miriam showed faith and courage from such a young age. Proving God uses young women's hearts. A young woman can set the tone and have others, including adults follow in her footsteps.
God used Miriam all through out her story. However he chose her for a different role than he chose Moses. Not a lesser role, just different.
More than eighty years after Moses was born God fulfilled the prophecy and used Moses to lead his people out of slavery. Miriam sang and danced, praising God as she left Egypt. The other women followed Miriam in celebration.
As the people spent time wondering and following God, learning some lessons and struggling with others, Miriam was leading with her brothers. In meetings with Moses and Aaron they devised plans. Moses was the leader but Miriam was right there for the women. Teaching and leading. For most of it Moses’s wife was not a part of the story. In Numbers we see that Moses’s cushite wife joined the crowd, but she began to be a problem for Miriam, a distraction.
Miriam began to be petty and sarcastic and rejected this Cushite wife.
(The term Cushite is referring to the ancient people of Eastern Africa.)
Miriam was not being racist here tho, it had nothing to do with the woman's skin color, or really even the woman at all. It had to do with Miriam’s heart. Because this woman was on the scene Miraim began to fear she would lose her spiritual status with the people they were leading. Moses’s wife would have now been seen as the leader of the women and this was Miriam’s thing up until this point.
Miriam took her eyes off of God for one minute and how quickly Satan snuck in with his whisper.
Miriam started questioning Moses. Who is that woman? Why should she get to play a part here?!
She began to question “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses?!” in Numbers 12. “Has not God spoken through all of us here in this meeting?!” she yelled looking at her other brother Aaron.
Moses was to go down in history as the man who led the Israelites out of slavery. He was who God had chosen for this very task. There were many other important tasks, but the leader for the people was Moses.
For such a strong woman, this had to have been a hard pill to swallow. She prophesied about Moses long before he was even born and here he is going down in history as the leader. He has this wife who has sway over him, maybe even seen as a higher rank than Miriam. The sister is starting to be pushed off and people are only seeing Moses and his wife, but Miriam had been here since the beginning.
She is the one who announced God would do this. She told people about Moses coming- with out her prophesying or sharing her faith he might not even be here.
Moses fulfilling what God asked him to do did not cheapen Miriam’s gift of prophesying or leading the women until this point. Moses's wife took nothing in God's eyes from Miriam.
Moses had his role and Miriam had hers.
Jealousy snuck into her heart and she instantly gave in to the whisper Satan was telling her. That somehow Moses and his wife were cheapening what she was called to do. That she was losing status here and that was what was important.
God called her out on it. He sent a cloud of smoke and spoke to Aaron and Miriam, right there, outside of the tent.
“Listen to my words, when there is a prophet among you I speak in dreams.”
Remember this is how God spoke to Miriam.
“This is not true for my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house and with him I speak face to face.”
Moses was the only one that saw God’s face directly. It was a privilege and honor. It spoke to Moses’s character and humility. When Miriam spoke against Moses as God’s servant, she was called out on it harshly.
When the cloud lifted God struck Miriam with leprosy and sent her out of the camp for 7 days. Here is a woman who is afraid she is losing status and God basically gave her the time out of all time outs. Leprosy and quarantine.
Just because God found so much value in Moses does not mean he did not value his Miriam.