It was really hard to pick a passage to teach on last weekend at Riv.

All I had to do was find something to preach about in what is largely considered one of the most boring books in the Bible: Numbers.  But the problem I had kinda shocked me.  I had a really hard time narrowing it down.  There were way too many passages I wanted to teach!

Hence this blog post.

There was one passage I really wanted to teach on but decided to blog about instead.  You can consider this post the message you didn’t get to hear. If you aren’t big on reading, check out the video version of this post from Facebook Live.

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Numbers 12 starts with a rather inflammatory statement:

Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman).

(Numbers 12:1) CSB

What’s so inflammatory about some guy’s brother and sister not liking his wife?  Doesn’t that happen all the time?  So what?  Let me retranslate that verse for you…

Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the [black] woman he married (for he had married a [black] woman).

(Numbers 12:1)

Now do you see it?

A Cushite was someone from Africa (it’s translated “Ethiopian” in other places).  Miriam and Aaron didn’t like the fact that their brother married a black woman.  They were openly critical of him because of it.  But watch this…

They said, “Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does he not also speak through us?” And the Lord heard it.

(Numbers 12:2)

Check this out.  Miriam and Aaron were upset about Moses’s interracial marriage but it’s not the reason they gave for the criticism.  Instead, they challenged his authority as God’s chosen man to lead Israel.  In so doing, they also betrayed their jealousy of his relationship with God.

It’s so easy to make this passage about their challenge of Moses’s authority but if that was the case (or that was only the case), there would have been no reason to record verse 1.  Let’s just call it what it is: [highlight color=”black” text_color=”” background_color=”” background_opacity=”1.00″]Miriam and Aaron were racists and they tried to hide their racism behind a general criticism on Moses’s leadership.[/highlight] I can’t help but wonder if they thought he wasn’t qualified to lead because he had shown “bad judgement” by marrying a black woman.

Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth.

(Numbers 12:3)

In other words, he wan’t going to defend himself.  But don’t forget what we learned in verse 2: “And the Lord heard it.”

Not only that, the Lord was pissed.

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord descended in a pillar of cloud, stood at the entrance to the tent, and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them came forward,

(Numbers 12:4–5)

You three!



You two!

Step forward!


“Listen to what I say:

If there is a prophet among you from the Lord,

I 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 household.

I speak with him directly,

openly, and not in riddles;

he sees the form of the Lord.

So why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

(Numbers 12:6–8)

In other words, “I only talk directly to Moses. Today, I am making an exception because I am pissed.”

The Lord’s anger burned against them, and he left.

As the cloud moved away from the tent, Miriam’s skin suddenly became diseased, resembling snow. When Aaron turned toward her, he saw that she was diseased

(Numbers 12:9–10)

“You have a problem with Moses’s black wife?  Fine! I’m gonna make you white.”

Aaron then begs Moses to save his sister.  Moses, in turn, begs God to save her and God does but he makes her stay outside of the camp for a week first.

What’s the moral of this story?  Well, there are several, but this one struck me:

Sometimes we try to hide our racism behind all kinds of stuff.  “I’m not racist!” we indignantly declare as we subtly behave and think in racist ways.

But God sees our hearts.

He hears what we say behind closed doors and the inner dialog in our heads.  He also knows the sins we are in self-denial about.

So let’s never forget that his anger burns against the sin of racism.