Courtesy: Pastor Steve Ellison
Previously, I wrote about Aaron and Miriam speaking out against their brother and commander-in-chief, Moses. God took offense at their criticism of His servant. Miriam was stricken with leprosy. Why was Aaron not stricken with leprosy also? The text does not answer this question. Many have speculated that Miriam’s being named first indicates her leading the rebellion. Others have noted that striking with leprosy the man who occupied the office of High Priest would have done damage to that office.
Whatever the case, God simply chooses not to tell us. Aaron asked Moses to not hold his and Miriam’s sin against them. Moses cried out for the Lord to heal Miriam. This event gives us some good insight into our quandary over punishment, consequences, forgiving, and forgetting. This is difficult territory to explore.
Answers are not certain. I think God uses this uncertainty, this lack of a predictive formula to keep us in close communication with Him. Our peace of mind will require us to be regularly and consistently seeking divine instruction to guide us in our specific individual circumstances.
Rather than simply complying with Moses’ request or even giving an explanation of what He was going to do, God answers Moses’ request for Miriam’s healing with a question of His own. Numbers 12:13-15 records the incident, “Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” 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.” (NASU)
God is pointing out that an action by her father would force her to face consequences for seven days. Certainly, for wrongs of her own, she must face consequences. Leprosy was the original consequence. The text is not clear, but God evidently extended forgiveness to Miriam by removing the leprosy. Did He also forget the crime along with forgiving it? The text doesn’t say. Did God immediately remove all consequences? No, seven days of isolation humiliated her and gave her some valuable opportunity to contemplate her guilt. Don’t miss the fact that, the rest of the people faced consequences as well. They had to wait for Miriam to be cleansed, before they could resume their journey.
What about you and me? Shall we expect consequences for our sin to remain even if repentance occurs and forgiveness is given? Should we expect all, some, or part of consequences to remain? How long should we expect any consequences to remain in effect? What about when others sin against us? We are commanded to forgive, but what about forgetting the wrong? What about any consequences that are under our control. What about trusting the offender again?
Does forgetting mean not mentioning the matter again or does it mean more than that? Does it mean erasing it from our memory and trusting individuals as if it never occurred? Does it mean doing away with all the consequences, some of the consequences, or none of the consequences? It is a waste of time for me to answer those questions. I don’t know. Ask the One who said He would supply wisdom liberally to those who ask. Don’t expect instructions for step two until you have obeyed step one. Regular, consistent, close, intimate, honest communication with you is His heart’s desire. If uncertainty generates that, then the uncertainty is certainly worth it.
Courtesy: Pastor Steve Ellison