Thursday, June 19, 2014

Humility and Irony

Have you ever known someone whose marriage caused a little scandal? Maybe they got married too young without the approval of either family. Maybe they got married really quickly because of a pregnancy. Or maybe one of them was substantially older than the other, causing the “ladies in the church” to raise an eyebrow at the news.

In premarital counseling, I like to point to the bible as a book that tells the real story of marriage—not some fairy tale of princesses and knights in shining armor. Think of David and Bathsheba. Think of Sampson and Delilah. Think of Adam and Eve. I hadn’t thought of Moses and the Cushite woman until today’s OT reading (Numbers 12:1-16) brought it up.

Aaron and Miriam, the siblings of Moses, begin to gossip about their brother. “How can Moses be so special? He married a Cushite woman!” The marriage, of course, isn’t the real issue. It’s the presenting problem. She was black, and the family didn’t like it. But it wasn’t the fact that she was black. As we see in the story, Aaron and Miriam were tired of Moses’ popularity: “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?”

God decides to handle this once and for all. He calls the three siblings to the tent of the meeting and explains that Moses is the only one who is to talk with God face-to-face. Yes, God speaks through the prophets, but only Moses can speak with God directly. And when the pillar of cloud departs, Miriam is white as snow—covered with leprosy. “Oh God, please heal her!” Moses instantly cries, but God sees fit to make her carry that burden for seven days, and the people of Israel remained camped there until Miriam’s illness had passed.

Ironic that Miriam was made “white as snow” while Moses’ wife had the dark skin of an Ethiopian. Irony is sometimes a sign of another’s humility. As the text explains, Moses was a very humble man—“more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.” He knew he did not need to defend himself, or his relationship with God, or his marriage to the Cushite woman. Humility is what it takes to let God sort things out. Humility is how we relax in the face of adversity and allow irony to work a result far more compelling than any we could manage on our own.

No comments:

Post a Comment