Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:1-3).
Meekness in Hebrew has the idea of “bowed” or humble. The literal concepts associated with this term are ideas like “to be wretched; emaciated, to cringe, to be crouched”. The term seems devoid of such innuendos like arrogance, pride, and hubris. The practical reality is a “meek or humble” person not only avoids the pitfalls of pride but would also escape self-deprecating attitudes that devalue God’s design.
Moses was very meek (humble), more than all people who were on the face of the earth. Wow! That is quite the statement. This is not a claim Moses makes about himself but reflects God’s insight into his spirit. Later in Numbers 12: 6-8 God describes His evaluation of Moses:
And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord 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 house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Moses spoke with God personally, face to face. Not even the prophets had this privilege because God made Himself known to them in visions and dreams. God did not speak to Moses in riddles or mysteries, but Moses has the privilege to “behold the form of the Lord”. God speaks to him “mouth to mouth” or as we would express the same idea, “face-to-face”. This level of personal privilege might provoke anyone to become arrogant and have an attitude of superiority. Moses saw himself in relationship to God Himself.
Moses was faithful in all of God’s house. That house was the house of Israel. He had known God and was committed to carrying out God’s wishes and commands exactly as God asked. His friendship with God was more valued than any other relationship. Moses’ humility was grounded in a deep, intimate relationship with God, and he was faithful to do everything God asked of him. That is essentially the picture of meekness or humility.
Humility is resilient. One might assume that humble people would never have to worry about criticism. But as we can see from the text, he comes under attack from his closest leaders – Miriam and Aaron! They are jealous of what they perceive as exclusive privilege with God, and they want the same recognition and privilege. Notice that Moses does nothing to defend himself, he does not debate his position with them, and he does not argue for himself. God is the one who defends Moses. God is the one who faces the accusations. God is the one who justifies Moses.
Humility trusts God, not self. There is nothing for Moses to prove here. Most of us would abandon humility to take on the accusers and defend oneself. Moses could have lashed out at Miriam and Aaron, but he trusts that God will have his back and work things out. I am not suggesting that truly humble people won’t stand up for themselves BUT there is something about implicitly trusting God that keeps humble people from acting badly.
Humility is an indispensable quality that God values. Regardless if we are talking about Moses or our own lives, humility will never fail us before God and with others.
Pastor Brad Little