Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 13
You will notice that critical people most often disguise their criticism. They really do. They, in order to make their criticism sound, oh, so important, in order to make their criticism sound oh so spiritual, you know what I'm talkin' about? I mean, they make their criticism, they couch it in such a way to sound so reasonable. Unfortunately, the non-discerning people go along with the critical person without thinking or without analyzing, and that's even sadder. And that's exactly what Miriam and Aaron did with their brother Moses. Miriam is the one who started the chain of criticism, and Aaron, as we saw in the last message, he's a bit of a weak brother, he just went along, "Yeah, yeah, yes, yes".
What does it say to us? What does it say to us? It says that, deep down, Miriam and Aaron were really envious of their brother Moses's call of God on his life. That's really what the bottom line, so much so that, instead of honestly coming to him and saying, "Hey, brother Moses, we are really envious about your leadership. We're envious about what you're doing," they found an issue with which all of the Israelites could agree. That's how it works. They found an issue that they know they can get the Israelites all riled up, and they zeroed on it. What was it? His wife was not Jewish. His wife did not come from Jewish stock. His wife was a foreigner. I think there is a Miriam and Aaron in every extended family.
I think there is a Miriam and an Aaron in every office. I think there is a Miriam and an Aaron in every church, a Miriam who instigates criticism, and an Aaron who goes along with it, a Miriam who ferments criticism, an Aaron, who would say, "Right on, Sis," a Miriam who starts the gossip chain, an Aaron who naively repeats it. I know and you know personal criticism, even when it is justified, is painful. You know that. But unjust criticism hurts deeply, especially if it comes from a trusted and loved person. It really does. By the way, critical people, they always have thin skin. They can dish it out, but they can never eat it. But what makes a criticism of Moses to be so excruciating is because it questioned his motive and because from whom the criticism came.
This is his sister, Miriam, who played a vital role in saving his life, and his brother Aaron, who stood by him. And then, after all that Moses did of turning his back on the gold of Egypt, of identifying with the suffering of Israel, fighting for so many personal battles with his own people, against idolatry and against immorality and against murmuring and complaining, and yet the two who are dearest and nearest to him, brother and sister, questioned his motives. Here's what I've learned about critical people through the years. They're basically people who don't feel good about themselves. They really don't. They feel envy, and they feel jealousy, and they feel it deeply. They have never learned to be contented where God had them, the place where God has placed them. They learned contentment, so they strike out at others.
Remember this: People will always strike out at someone whom they perceive, I'm not saying it's real, but they perceive to be more important than they are. They strike out at someone whom they perceive to be more successful than they are, someone whom they perceive that has something that they don't have, someone whom they perceive to be more popular than they are... just think about this for a long time, and that is why, please listen carefully, that is why the person who never gets criticized, did you get that? The person who never gets criticized is the person who says nothing and does nothing and accomplishes nothing.
So, if you want to accomplish great things, you better learn that criticism comes with the package. I'm personally convinced that no one who accomplishes anything worthwhile in life, anything that's important in life, who will not be criticized. They criticize Jesus, for goodness' sake. Question: What was Miriam and Aaron criticism... I'm talking about the outward, the reason for it. What was it? Immediately it brought about the judgment of God. Now, the judgment of God doesn't always come immediately. Many times it takes time, but occasionally you see in the Scripture, God acts very swiftly. Well, they said, "Moses married this wife, who is not one of us. She's a Shunammite".
Now try to make sense of this criticism. Moses's wife Zipporah, she was a Midianite. You know the story. We've been through this. And he married her way, way, way before any of this. You say, "Before what"? Before the burning bush and encountering with God, before Moses was called to deliver his people out of Egypt, before the ten judgments of God that came upon the Egyptian Gods, before the crossing of the Red Sea, before the arrival into Sinai, before the manna that came from heaven, before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, way before. Why criticize him for this now? Beloved, listen to me. I know you know the Scripture is very clear. It's very clear to us that you shall not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. There can be no discussion or debate on this.
Now, the fact that God overrules sometimes and lets his grace overrule, but it doesn't mean violation of that principle, biblical principle, is right. You shall not be unequally yoked. Okay, but there was no Bible back then. When Moses married Zipporah, there was no Bible, there was Scripture. God has not given his Word yet. Ah, but criticism that is loaded with envy and jealousy is not logical. Criticism, as it says, "I got my mind made up. Don't confuse me with the facts". But there's something here I don't want you to miss. Miriam and Aaron and Moses, they belong to the same family, right? All three had the same father and the same mother, Miriam, Aaron, and Moses, flesh-and-blood siblings, and they too were chosen by God to play a role in God's deliverance of his people out of Egypt. Both have had the role. Miriam was a choir director.
You know, she was a song leader. Aaron was the high priest, the very first high priest in biblical history, so they had a role to play. They had a position in which God used them in it, and possibly they received all of that honor because of their connection with brother Moses. Possibly they became prominent because of brother Moses. Then why in God's name are they discontented and criticizing their brother? The Scripture does not spell it out. I always tell you when the Scripture is clear, and the Scripture does not spell out the reason for their irrational criticism. Jewish scholars have speculated that what must have happened is that Zipporah has died and then Moses remarried a Shunammite woman.
Well, not only he married a Shunammite woman, but he married her without consulting with sister Miriam, and I thought to myself for a few seconds, and I said, "Man, that will do it. That will do it. That will do it". You gotta grow up in the Middle East to understand that. There are some people who are just critical people, and they don't want you to breathe without consulting them, get their permission. I mean, if you do not consult with them, they will find every little reason to be merciless in attacking you and in criticizing you. Why? They got bent out of shape. "He didn't consult me".
Here's the second scenario that most New Testament scholars, most believing scholars have said must've happened is that Moses, when he had the encounter with God at the burning bush and God asked him to go to Egypt and he knew what is awaiting him on the other side, he must've left his wife and children with his father-in-law, Jethro, over in the land of Midian, and he left him there for safekeeping, and so that throughout the time of struggling with Pharaoh, helping his people to escape from Egypt, leading them out of the land of slavery and teaching them to worship Yahweh alone, during all of that time, Miriam, Miriam, his sister, became queen bee, hello, the premier woman, numero una, the big kahuna, the head enchilada. You getting it? But after they settled in Sinai, we read that Jethro, his father-in-law, and Hobab, who is his brother-in-law, came to see him in Sinai.
In fact, his father-in-law, Jethro, gave him one of the most important principles in management. You remember it? He showed him that he need to delegate. Great principle. Great principle. And so, when they came to Sinai from the land of Midian to see Moses, they brought with them Mrs. Moses and the boys, and, oh, baby, Moses's wife stole the show. Miriam is no longer the queen of the castle. You see, when Mrs. Moses showed up, Miriam and Aaron were stewing and determined to put Moses down. You know when somebody puts another person down all the time? It's just because they think that's... lift them up. It always backfires, always does. I mean, they could not stand seeing the spotlight somewhere else, and so they wanted the spotlight to come and be on their wisdom.
They tried to show how brilliant they are, how smart they are, how spiritual they are. They tried to show how much better in their thinking they are. There is a huge problem, a huge problem. Brilliance, gifting, talent, all of them, good as it is, has nothing to do with God's call in someone's life. It really hasn't. I have seen this through the years: Whether you're in business, whether you're a doctor or an engineer or wherever you are where God has placed you, God has given you an anointing in that area, and, therefore, whenever you are in the area of your anointing, you get blessed. Are you with me? And I know I'm using the word "anointing," not in the truest sense of biblical sense, but you know what I mean by "anointing". You have favor in that area. You have success in this area. You understand what I'm talkin' about?
So it's nothing to do just with ministry, only ministry, but I think I'm convinced that's in every area of life. Wherever God has appointed you, wherever God has put you, where God has given you favor in that area, God is gonna bless you in that area. It seems, to me, at least, that's my personal opinion now, that God does not always call those who are most brilliant people. God does not always call those who are clever in their own eyes. In Moses's case, Miriam and Aaron's criticism was not only unfair, it was not only unjustified, but it was blatant sin.
Please, please, please don't miss what I'm gonna tell you. Regardless of where you stand on this, just don't miss this. Don't miss Moses's reaction to this whole situation. If you miss that, you missed a whole lot of stuff because you can have criticism that's part of life as you see it everywhere, but look at Moses's reaction. It will bless you. Moses could have lashed out on them, and he would've been justified, but he didn't. Moses could have accused them of hypocrisy, and he would've been justified, but he didn't. He could have defended himself and explained how he was married to his wife years before God gave him the commandments and before the Scripture was revealed, but he didn't. Why? Why?
Because Moses knew that if they're really and truly concerned about this matter, they would have approached him privately. They would have approached him privately and talk about it instead of going around, telling everybody else. Moses knew that they were self-serving in this matter. Moses knew that they were projecting their own self-importance. Moses knew that they were stewing in their envy, and that is why they went about this criticism the way they went about it. Ah, but Moses extended the spirit of forgiveness. He extended forgiveness to his brother and his sister.
Now, I'm not saying that there isn't a time, I believe there is a time in which we can defend ourselves. Jesus did it with the Pharisees. He defended himself. Paul did it with the Judaizers. There is a time when you need to defend yourself, but here, Moses did not see any reason as to why to defend himself. You say, "Why is that"? Because of his genuine humility and his love for his sister and his brother because he believed that God is his defender, because he believed that God would do a much better job than he could, because he was protecting his sister, Miriam, and his brother, Aaron.
Beloved, listen to me: Remembering with gratitude to God, remembering with gratitude to God for what God did in your life will always imbue the spirit of forgiveness in you. I can testify to that. Here's something that you must never forget: Between the slanderer and the slandered, there's God in the middle. There's God in the middle. And what did God do? He struck Miriam with leprosy, the worst thing. And then Aaron had to go through the excruciating experience as the high priest, because that's the role of the priest and the high priest, to pronounce her leprosy.
What was Moses doing? He was praying his heart out on their behalf. He cried out to God for healing. One of the things I can testify to with clarity, and those near and dear to me know this, that is, praying for the slanderer. Praying for the slanderer is one of the greatest healing experiences in my Christian life. And God answered Moses's prayer, and he healed Miriam, but not immediately. God could've literally clicked his finger, and Miriam would've been healed.
Why did he wait for seven days? Why did he wait for seven days? Listen carefully: God wanted this new community of God, the Israel, he wanted to teach them that sin has consequences. Can you say it with me? "Sin has", this is one of those very personal message that has to apply to each individual. That's between you and God. So let me ask you this: Are you a critical person? Are you quick on the trigger and then ask questions later?
You can ask the Lord on this day to deliver you, and I tell you, on the authority of the Word of God and from my personal experience, God will answer that prayer. On the other hand, there may be someone here today who's been a victim of criticism, and you are hurting to the point of sickness, literally, because somebody slandered you and very unjustly. The same Lord will empower you and heal you, and you start praying for your slanderer. I know, I confess, hard in the beginning, but after 20 or 30 years, it gets a lot easier. Trust me.