It seems little brothers can need a lot of help. Miriam protectively watched over baby Moses as he lay in his handcrafted boat amongst the bulrushes to avoid the cruel fate prescribed by Pharaoh.
When he grew up she watched over his leadership and, like any big sister, she stepped in when she felt he needed her help. She jubilantly led the worship when Pharaoh’s pursuing chariots were swallowed in the waters of the Red Sea but she overstepped the mark when she criticised Moses. Miriam resented the foreign wife Moses had chosen and used that to challenge Moses’ leadership.
Miriam enrolled Aaron, Moses’ older brother, in her dispute and attacked Moses with, “Hath God indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?” and the record ominously adds, “And the LORD heard it” (Num. 12:2). Whatever had motivated Aaron and Miriam was not pleasing to God. God had chosen Moses. God spoke face to face with Moses. And “sowing discord” was something God hated (Prov. 6:19).
The three were asked to meet God at the door of the tabernacle and Miriam and Aaron were put firmly in their place. In righteous anger, God departed. Miriam was left white with leprosy but Moses interceded for her and, after 7 days of isolation outside the camp, she was restored. Miriam learnt she was no longer in control of her little brother.
Miriam teaches us that a critical spirit can so easily rise up in any of us. We learn that we injure only ourselves if we wish to criticise another for our own personal gain. When we have experienced the grace of God, and as we regularly absorb the word of God, the critical spirit within us is jettisoned.
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (I Pet. 2:1-3 NKJV).