Friday, November 2, 2012

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Miriam ~ Bite Your Tongue

This post has been sitting on my hard drive as a jumbled first draft since July. Finally had time to get it out and revise a couple days ago. Hope you enjoy!

Miriam growled low in her throat and flicked a red-and-yellow sand fly from her arm. She gathered silver strands from her vision and tucked them back in her braid. “It’s probably because of her, you know.”
Aaron, high priest of Israel, met her brown gaze over the crackling, ancient scrolls spread wide before him. He said nothing, but a downward slant of his lips seemed agreement enough.
“And Moses' marrying an Ethiopian was just the beginning. If we had not brought in all these kinds of people, the young men wouldn't have thoughts of anyone but Moses prophesying. These other cultures, other ideas… They will be the ruination of us.”
Aaron brushed his hand across the parchment and studied the words there. Why wouldn’t he speak?
“But,” Miriam bent her head to her loom and threaded the green shuttle through the white warp strings. Next would come the dyed threads of gray and sienna. “ May-hap they are right in saying others should help lead.”
That brought his head up. His gray brows pulled his forehead together like new thread in old cloth.
Doubt drained her confidence and she missed a string of the tapestry. She pulled the green shuttle back and ran it through again. “We—we are older. Could not God speak through us even more than these young men or even Moses?"
Aaron nodded, "I've had the same thoughts, Sister. Is Moses the only one qualified?" 
She swallowed and cleared her throat, voice gravelly and a bit dry. "We were with the people, among them as slaves, while he spent his days in the palace. What kind of experience does he have, a foundling prince?”
As she spoke the words a cool wind blew through the tent. Chills skittered up her arms.
The door flap was closed tight, barring any breeze. 
A voice between a whisper and rushing water chopped through her speech. “Moses, Aaron, Miriam. Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation.”
An icy rush nettled her spirit as she and Aaron rose in tandem.
The Lord was calling.
She gathered her robes close to her like a shield. Had the whole congregation heard? She would soon be among them and know.
Aaron opened the tent door to exit before her. His face gave her pause. White smoke reflected in his dark, wide gaze. She looked toward the tabernacle and her mind emptied of all but one thought that cast an echoed rumble through her being.
“I AM.”
His holiness descended in a pillar of cloud and rested over the door of the mobile meeting place of God and man. 
Moses met them with a knowing, but saddened countenance. Did he know of what they had spoken? Had he been outside the tent and heard?
Before she could ask the Lord spoke and it shook her, inside and out. "Aaron and Miriam."
They approached. Miriam felt the terror reflected on Aaron’s face. The tumultuous cloud pulsed with the very breath of God.
“Mark my words. If there is a prophet among you I will make known to him in a vision and dream, dark speeches. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
At once, the Lord left off speaking. The cloud dissipated into mist and departed.
Death crept into her skin, covering her arms, legs and stomach beneath her clothes. Her shaking hands were covered with raw welts and pus. She cried out, nothing left inside but horror. 
Aaron and Moses’ pleas to God for her faded as her punishment became clear. An outward symbol of her self-righteous ambitions and disrespect for God’s plan of authority. She was banished to spend a week outside the camp.
Seven days unclean.
Seven days to remember God’s holiness, the stench of her rotting flesh warring with the memories of the sweet, exclusive recipe of incense and perfumes that clung to Aaron’s robes when he exited the Holy of Holies. Her sins turned her stomach and caused her to refuse the bread Aaron left for her at the edge of the camp. Day after day she sat, shamed, isolated, in lancinate pain. Daily, she scraped and bathed. She grew weary of the sight of her own skin and the agony the ministrations caused. 
Seven days to remember God's favor and long for it once more. Deep in her heart she wondered why it was only her and not Aaron who had been judged. But when He first called Moses, God had allowed that Aaron be his helper. Not her. She had desired the man's place of leadership as God said Eve would after the fall of man. And may-hap God had judged Aaron through her own leprosy. He hated to see another suffer. Especially his sister.
Finally, blessedly, at dawn on the eighth day, she woke to pink, clean flesh.
God had healed her. Gratitude pushed tears from her throat to her eyes. With joy she put off her contaminated vesture and surrounded herself with a clean garment. She appeared before Aaron, as was the custom, and after he declared her clean, she came back into the congregation. Blessed be the Lord. He did not forsake his own.

Since Jesus gave himself as the sacrifice for our sins forever, we are blessed to be able to approach God in prayer, when we have sinned, to ask His forgiveness and be restored into fellowship with him. 
Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 Not long after Miriam's example of leprosy,  four men, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, rebelled against Moses' leadership and the Lord caused the earth to "split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the congregation." God takes it seriously when we speak against the leadership He has ordained.  
As women, we need to guard our words. Especially words about those whom God has chosen to be our authority--our husbands, fathers, pastors. 

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31:26