Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leading Ladies: Miriam

Chances are you're familiar with the birth of Moses. During those days, the Pharaoh had ordered that all  of the male children be thrown into the river (killed) while all of the female children could be saved. You see, Pharaoh was afraid that the nation of Israel was becoming increasingly too large and powerful, and would soon overthrow his nation.

Moses's mother, after giving birth, decided that she would hide him instead of casting him into the river. For three months she hid Moses, no doubt growing only more attached as the months went on. Finally, she felt she could hide him no more, so she made a basket for him and she placed him in the river. It is at this point that we are introduced to our leading lady of the day: Miriam.

There are only three verses that directly deal with Miriam in this context (Ex. 2:4, 7-8), but the lessons we can learn are innumerable.

The story tells us that Miriam stood at a distance to see what would happen to Moses. When Pharoah's daughter goes down to the river and finds the baby, Miriam immediately and somewhat impressively makes her presence known and even manages to go get Moses's own mother to be the nurse for him, even though he will now be known as the princess's son.

So what can we learn from Miriam?

First, she was obedient. Do you think that it was Miriam's own notion to go and follow baby Moses as he floated along in the river, or could it have been her parents' request? Miriam ran the risk of being killed, put into slavery, or a number of other punishments as a result of protecting this male child. Still, she obeyed. The Bible tells us that "all who desire to live godly will suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12). Regardless of what physical consequence we could suffer for being obedient to the will of God, we must submit to Him. Times are changing, and in our lifetime it may very well be that Christians will be severely persecuted, even to the point of death (as is already the case in some countries). Should it come to that (and God forbid it does), Christians must be willing to suffer, even to die, in order to keep being obedient to our Father.

The second lesson we can glean from Miriam is that we, as children of God, have a responsibility to our siblings. As a young girl, Miriam took care of her family. Her boldness helped to save one of the greatest leaders of all time. Without her, Moses may have been brought up entirely Egyptian, and the nation of Israel may have been in bondage for years and years. While we must take care of our physical families, we also have a responsibility to our spiritual family. As Christian women, we have an opportunity to look out for our brothers in Christ. Miriam looked after Moses to ensure that he did not fall into physical harm, and we can do the same for our brothers in a spiritual way. We can wear modest clothing, keeping them from the temptation of lust. We can keep ourselves from impure situations, guarding them from the schemes of the devil.

Third, we must be clever. Had the Pharaoh's daughter looked over at me, I may have been tongue-tied or scared or simply run away. Not Miriam. She thought on her feet, and told the princess that she would find her a Hebrew nurse, then cunningly went back to her own mother, never giving away what was happening. We know from scripture that Satan is a master deceiver (Eph. 6:11, 1 Pet. 5:8, Rev. 20:10). We must always be on guard, ready at any moment to side-step his schemes.

A final lesson we can learn from Miriam is that we cannot let our age hinder our service. As a young girl, Miriam made a great impact on the nation of Israel. As younger people (I mean, I'm only 24!), we have the same opportunity. We can use our talents and energies to impact our nation. America is turning, so rapidly, away from her Creator, and we must use any way we can to try to turn this nation back and save it from destruction. Had Miriam decided to do nothing, Moses may have perished, or at the very least, never have known his Hebrew heritage. Instead, Miriam was obedient, brave, and cunning, and we need to be the same way today.

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