Tag Archives: friendship

Numbers 12: Lift yourself up and be cast down

The overall lesson of Numbers 12 is not to lift yourself up above or at the expense of others. We are told in Numbers 12:3 that Moses was “…very humble, more than any man…” 

Moses was not a brave, audacious man. He had little confidence in himself, either when he killed the Egyptian or when God called him at the burning bush. He never considered himself better than anyone else. Aaron and Miriam, on the other hand, were not so humble.  

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)….” (Numbers 12:1 NASB)

Moses’ Cushite’s wife was a symptom of a deeper grievance that Aaron and Miriam had against Moses. On the surface it seems that Miriam and Aaron were racists but as you read the chapter you see that God doesn’t address their criticism of Moses’ wife because she was just a symptom. God saw a deeper problem that needed to be addressed. 

The scriptures refer to Miriam in Ex. 15:20 as “Miriam the prophetess” obedient to her mother when she was a young girl. Miriam’s name in Hebrew — מִרְיָם Miryam (H4813)  — means “rebellious,”  from מְרִי m’riy (H4805, bitterness) and מָרָה marah (H4784, to make bitter).

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.”(Micah 6:4 NASB)

The only time the Scriptures record a bad report about Miriam is in Numbers 12. 

“and they (Miriam and Aaron) said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NASB)

As far as we can tell, Moses never heard Aaron and Miriam’s complaints about his new Cushite wife or their grumbling about his status in comparison to their own, but God heard it and He did not wait to render correction. 

“Suddenly the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, ‘You three come out to the tent of meeting.’ So the three of them came out.” (Numbers 12:4 NASB)

No one else was called to this meeting, except Moses, Aaron and Miriam. There was something God wanted Moses to hear. This will not be the last time Moses and Aaron faced an insurrection against their leadership.

What we have here is not your typical sibling rivalry. Moses was the youngest brother, who was taken from his family after he was weaned around two years old. There was a separation between Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Moses did not have the same type of sibling connection with Aaron and Miriam that Aaron and Miriam had with one another. 

Moses has no idea why God is calling this meeting. Why this meeting was called and why it was recorded is for our admonition. 

“He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?'” (Numbers 12:6–8 NASB)

Aaron and Miriam was not the first to receive dreams and visions. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph also received dreams and visions. But Moses didn’t receive revelations from God in dreams but “mouth to mouth, openly.”  The word “dark sayings” is the Hebrew word chidah (Strongs H2420) which literally means riddles. It’s refered to in Brown, Dryer Briggs as “riddle, enigmatic, perplexing saying or question.” 

God also said that He revealed His form to Moses. When did that happen? The second time Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the commandments. 

“If then I have grace in your eyes, let me see your ways, so that I may have knowledge of you and be certain of your grace; and my prayer is that you will keep in mind that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:13 BBE)

“And the Lord went past before his eyes, saying, The Lord, the Lord, a God full of pity and grace, slow to wrath and great in mercy and faith; Having mercy on thousands, overlooking evil and wrongdoing and sin; he will not let wrongdoers go free, but will send punishment on children for the sins of their fathers, and on their children’s children to the third and fourth generation. Then Moses quickly went down on his face in worship.” (Exodus 34:6–8 BBE)

God tells them that He speaks to Moses directly but he speaks to Aaron and Miriam in riddles and parables. 

Moses is the picture of God and Aaron is a picture of the Son of God. Who is Miriam a picture of? She is a picture of all the tribes of Israel. She is a picture of the House of Israel. Moses was faithful to God’s house. 

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house ― whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:1–6 NASB)

God built the house, not Moses. God owns the house, not Moses. 

“But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned.'” (Numbers 12:10–11 NASB)

Aaron’s heart was towards his sister and the first thing he did when he saw Miriam’s leprosy, was to repent. Aaron addressed Moses as “Adonai” and understood that even though Miriam was the one physically punished, he was punished too. 

Moses cried out in Miriam’s behalf too. Moses showed how faithful he was to God’s house by praying for Miriam’s healing and restoration.

“Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!”” (Numbers 12:13 NASB)

How did God respond? God didn’t kill her. He made it simple for Moses to understand. Miriam should be ashamed of what she has said. 

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.’ So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.” (Numbers 12:14–15 NASB)

This punishment affected everyone in the camp. They could not move until Miriam was healed. I think it is interesting that Yeshua’s mother was named Miriam, which I don’t believe is a coincidence. Yeshua was born into a nation of rebellious and stiff necked people. 

This isn’t the first time Aaron made a big mistake for which he was not punished. Aaron was also complicit in the incident with the golden calf yet Aaron received no known punishment for that. Aaron did not hesitate when the plague came to run head-long into the people with the incense to stop the plague.

How many times has Yeshua run into your life to save you from death? Many I’m sure. 

You will never read anything more bad said about Miriam from this point of the Bible forward. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

John 15:12-25: Friends with God

Keep Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-14) in the back of your mind as we take a look at John 15:12-25. This parable has a lot of symbolism embedded in it. Let’s define the symbols in this parable. 

  • Well-beloved: YHVH of hosts
  • Vineyard: Israel, men of Yehudah
  • Tower: Safety and Security
  • Grapes: Behavior of the people
  • Wine: Outcome of the people’s behavior
  • Viticulture: Word and Spirit of YHVH
  • Hedge: Protection against invasion
  • Punchline: Conquest will renew Israel’s thirst for YHVH

Israel didn’t want to obey and respect the one who created their nation and took them into the Land, cleared it out and protected it. Since they were not interested in obeying and respecting God, God took His protection away. They were left to protect themselves but there were larger powers in the area: Assyria and Babylon. 

Israel were given over to an insatiable thirst. Israel were to be a nation of priest and a light to the nations but when they didn’t want to do that job anymore, God had to give them a reboot and remind them of why they were called out in the first place. 

In Isaiah, justice was contrasted with murder, righteousness contrasted with oppression, contentment with greed. When they no longer wanted to pursue knowledge of God, the pursued partying, entertainment and drunkenness instead. All they wanted was a good time all the time. This is what dragged them down. If the partying, entertainment and drink are taken away, what are you? When the Israelites were hauled away, what did they have left? Who were they? 

The prophet Daniel also asked the question: Are you going to assimilate with the nations or remain separate? 

When you look at this, you see how Yeshua sets this up. The “reset button” is coming to Israel again and very soon. 

John 15 talks a lot about love, loving others as Yeshua loves us. It’s in the golden rule. John 15:12 and John 15:17 are the book ends to the core of our discussion. 

We first encountered Yeshua’s making personal the “second-greatest commandment” in Jn. 13:34 at the beginning of His “farewell discourse.”

There are four main types of love in the Greek: 

  • ἀγαπάω agapaō (Strong’s lexicon No. G25): it’s a veneration type of love, holding in high esteem. It’s translated as “charity” in some English because you are thinking of the recipient of that love as someone to be lifted up. 
  • φιλέω fileō (G5368): brotherly love
  • στέργω stergo: This is the mutual love of parents and children, love of subjects for a ruler. It’s a master/servant love.
  • ἔρως erōs: This is not word that is used in the Scriptures at all. There’s a reason for that. It is the love between a man and a woman, it’s a craving, a desire, it’s sensual. It is also the type of love that some Greeks had for their deities that is a spiritual love above the physical. This comes from Greek dualism in which the physical was inherently evil and the spiritual was inherently good. The pursuit of the physical became a pursuit of the spiritual. This is why do you not see the word eros in Scripture. 

The only two Greek concepts of love used in Scripture are agape and fileo. Agape is the primary type of love described in scripture, while fileo is more rare. Agape is the type of love that God has for His creation. 

Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies.” This is an agape love, esteeming your enemies higher than yourself. Agape is a type of love that you have to consciously do while fileo love is a more emotional response. 1Corinthians 13 is only about the agape love. This is a love that is chosen. 

This is what the people were facing in Isaiah 5. Were the people going to pursue an agape love for their God who brought them into the land and nurtured them into it or were they going to party all the time and pursue physical pleasure? 

“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Friends of God

Agapeo love is a choice to esteem someone higher than yourself. There are a couple of people who are called “Friends of God” which are Abraham and Moses. Let’s explore why they were given that title. 

The account in Genesis 18 of the LORD appearing the Abraham and having lunch with him doesn’t use the Hebrew word most often used for friend, רֵעַ or רֵיעַ  reʿa (H7453). Yet the LORD did meet with him in person, face to face. God revealed His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. God didn’t keep this secret from Him.  

“‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.'” (Gen. 18:17–19)

God spoke to Abraham so plainly that Abraham urged the LORD to consider through mercy by asking Him to reconsider for the sake of 10 people. The prophets and the Apostles saw Abraham as God’s friend

King Yehoshafat (Jehoshaphat) speaks prophetically after prayer and fasting following a rebuke through God’s Spirit: 

“‘Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2Chr. 20:7)

We also see Isaiah repeat this as God loving Abraham in the present tense and into the future. 

“‘But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend….’” (Isa. 41:8)

The Apostle James also affirms this:

You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Jas. 2:22–24)

The Septuagint referred to Abraham as the one God had agapeo for but James uses the fileo word for love. It’s the trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. This is why God was fond of Abraham. James’ message ties this fondness to Abraham’s imputed righteousness through trust in God’s promises.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)

The vineyard in Isaiah 5 was supposed to produce fruit and be a blessing but it did not produce fruit and did not produce blessings so God had to hit the “reset button” which He did through the Apostles. 

From the vineyard parable of Isaiah 5, we can see that the 12 are being commissioned to continue the task the LORD originally gave Israel: to be a nation of priests and a light to the world about the agape the Creator wants to have with mankind.

We see how God related to Moses. 

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11)

“ ‘If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD.’ ” (Num. 12:6–8)

“… no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face …” (Dt. 34:10)

The friends of God are those who trust the promises and testimony of God and want to communicate with God face to face, despite knowing how disastrous that could be for one’s casual observance of God.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.