the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Quench not the Spirit.”
Numbers 11:24 , Numbers 11:25
See what the Lord can do, and let it encourage us to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into his harvest. Many a Moses is burdened for want of helpers, but the Lord can send him all the assistance he needs.
Perhaps Moses and the people had not looked for prophetic gifts to follow the gift of the Spirit, but only the power to govern; hence the excitement when two of the elders began to preach in parts of the camp where the prophesying at the tabernacle had not yet been made known.
Numbers 11:27 , Numbers 11:28
Jealousy for his master’s honour moved Joshua to slay the irregular ministry of Eldad and Medad; and still there are many who are zealous to put down those who presume to prophesy, because they are “men authorised by God alone,” as if that were not authority enough.
Moses was of a noble spirit. If the men were really moved by the Spirit of God, he had no desire to restrain their unusual procedure; but far otherwise, he wished that all the Lord’s servants had the same gifts and graces. Irregular ministries have been the means of the salvation of thousands, and therein we rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
They feasted themselves without fear, though they had been told that evil would come of it. No doubt they fed ravenously, and then gave their whole minds to the curing of what remained, as if they thought they should never have such provision again. Greediness is, in itself, a plague, and brings other evils with it.
These gluttons digged their graves with their teeth. Many die through sins of the table; drunkenness and gluttony devour their thousands. Thus by one sin God punished another. Those who murmured for flesh, received, as a penalty, death while eating the flesh for which they murmured.
Scandalous sins have their memorials; may they act as warnings to us, that we do not become discontented and greedy. The Lord make us thankful for His mercies, and save us from fleshly lusts.
O Lord, Thy messengers ordain,
And whom Thou wilt inspire;
We will not of Thy course complain,
But hail the sacred fire.
Blow as He list, the Spirit’s choice
Of instruments we bless;
We will, if Christ be preached, rejoice.
And wish the Word success.
“Charity envieth not.”
Jealousy of his power was at the bottom of their complaining. How good a man Moses must have been when even those who knew him best could find no fault with him except that he had married a foreign lady, against whom they had nothing to allege but that she was an Ethiopian.
Moses must have felt the jealousy of his brother and sister very keenly, but he did not fight his own battle, he left the matter to God, who observed with indignation the wanton envy of the ungenerous pair.
Some other hand has inserted this verse under divine direction. Moses would not have said it of himself, but the Lord took care that somebody else should record it, for he honours those who honour him. As Moses was meek he did not strive for himself, and therefore the Lord became his champion.
The suddenness of the interference marks the importance of the matter, and the Lord’s anger concerning it.
Aaron had been faulty in the matter of the golden calf, and therefore he ought to have been very quiet, and Miriam’s sex should have sufficed to make her modest; yet, envy thrust both these good persons into a bad spirit, and then into a false and sinful position. Above all things, let us shun envy, for it is cruel as the grave. If God chooses to make other men greater and more honourable than ourselves, what right have we to question his prerogative?
This was the surest token of his anger. His presence is heaven, his absence misery to his children.
If Aaron had been made a leper he could not have executed his office; but Miriam’s disease was a punishment to both, and possibly she had also been the chief offender.
Miriam wounded Moses with her tongue, and now Moses uses his tongue to cry, “Heal her now, O God.” This is the true way to heap coals of fire on the heads of those who injure us. We must pray for those who despitefully use us.
Incases of extreme provocation an eastern father would spit in his child’s face, and then the child was banished from the father’s presence for seven days: how much more then should Miriam be shut out of the camp for awhile when she had so grossly offended, and against the Lord, and had received so terrible a mark of the divine displeasure.
This showed their respect for her, and their grief at her sickness.