Numbers 12 … Consider His “Suddenly”

There was no time wasted. The LORD heard it and He responded… and He responded, “Suddenly.”

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the Hebrew word suddenly is defined: 6597. פִּתְאוֹם piṯʾôm: An adverb meaning suddenly, unexpectedly. It refers to things occurring all at once, surprisingly, all of a sudden

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out, (12:4).

I kept envisioning the classic scene from The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her three friends approach the great and mighty Wizard. Of course this analogy is pitiful as it relates to the LORD; for we all know the Wizard was a fraud.

But I can’t help but imagine Aaron and Miriam when they heard the LORD “Suddenly” call for them to come out. I picture them shaking, much like the Cowardly Lion, as they approached the tent of meeting, with a sweeping sense of dread and doom.

Consider His “Suddenly”

  • His “Suddenly” implied Aaron and Miriam were not expecting His swift intrusion upon their personal pity party.
    • Then 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 as well?” (12:1-2).
  • His “Suddenly” disclosed the LORD’s Omnipresence; whatever else the LORD was doing, He was still there, and heard their wagging tongues.
    • And the Lord heard it, (12:2).
  • His “Suddenly” communicated this as entirely the LORD’s resolve, without any prodding from man requesting His arbitration.
    • Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam, (12:5).
  • His “Suddenly” exposed the transgression and culpability of Aaron and Miriam in their attack against God’s representative, and revealed the faithfulness and position of His servant, Moses.
    • “Hear now My words:
      If there is a prophet among you,
      I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
      I shall speak with him in a dream.
      “Not so, with My servant Moses,
      He is faithful in all My household;
      With him I speak mouth to mouth,
      Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
      And he beholds the form of the Lord.
      Why then were you not afraid
      To speak against My servant, against Moses?”
      (12:6-8).
  • His “Suddenly” released the LORD’s judgment in His righteous anger
    • So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. 10 But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow, (12:9-10).

How do we respond to His “Suddenly”?

I admit, I like the warm fuzzies; I like the stories of God as my protector, defender and refuge, but the stories of His judgment… well, not so much. But in truth, He came as the protector, defender and refuge for Moses. Moses did not defend himself; the LORD stepped in on his behalf.

Just as any loving parent must do, the LORD dealt with the issue head-on, with His “Suddenly.” The LORD does not need time to think and decide what is right and what action He should take.

So as we think about “poor” Miriam and Aaron, let’s think about “poor” Moses. After all, he was the LORD’s humble, obedient servant. What can we glean from this somewhat frightening account?

Well for starters, it is not wise to go after God’s representatives; in a sense we go after God Himself. It is the wise person who walks in the fear of the LORD rather than in the false security of her own pride. The wise fear the LORD and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure, (Proverbs 14:16 NIV).

  • Let us always expect His intrusion on our personal pity parties. His Holy Spirit will guide us away from a murmuring spirit, and when He does, let us be quick to respond in repentance.
    • But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth, (John 16:13).
    • Do all things without grumbling or disputing; (Philippians 2:14).
  • We cannot hide anything from the Omnipresent Lord; there is no such thing as a secret sin.
    • O God, it is You who knows my folly,
      And my wrongs are not hidden from You,
      (Psalm 69:5).
    • Where can I go from Your Spirit?
      Or where can I flee from Your presence?
      (Psalm 139:7).
  • We can trust the LORD to deal with injustices and wrongs committed against us. We must not take vengeance; rather we are called to walk in humility and to love and pray for our enemies, trusting the LORD to vindicate as He so determines.
    • But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44).
    • Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, (Romans 12:19-21).
  • Our thoughts matter, it’s where the battle begins. Before a word is spoken it is conceived in our minds. We must have our minds renewed in His Word and we must be aggressive in the mental battle of capturing our rampant thought life before destructive forces proceed from our lips and actions.
    • And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, (Romans 12:2).
    • For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
  • The judgment of His righteous anger, the judgment of His wrath we rightfully deserve, was poured out on Jesus. When we place our faith in His indescribable sacrifice, we will not suffer His judgment; for Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. By His shed blood He satisfied the wrath of God. And He did not wait on us to get our act together; He died for us while we were yet sinners.
    • being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, (Romans 3:24-25).
    • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him, (Romans 5:8-9).
    • My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world, (1 John 2:1-2).

We have been spared His wrath! How can we not walk in the fear of Him Who is Omnipresent, acts as He wills and fully knows our hearts? Because we have been spared His wrath, let us commit to live as a testimony of gratitude, depending on His grace to grow us as we diligently apply our hearts to learn what pleases Him.

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:8-10).

Let’s Grow Together!

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