“Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.” ~ Deuteronomy 24:9
Miriam, Moses’ sister, had (along with Aaron) challenged his authority as the leader of the Hebrew nation (Numbers 12:1-16). God was furious because of Miriam’s rebellion and she became leprous: Challenging the authority of God’s appointed leader is the same as challenging God’s authority.
To prevent transmission of the disease, lepers, like Miriam, had to live outside of the community and generally had very little fellowship with their non-leprous brethren/countrymen (Leviticus 13:44-46). Therefore, when Hebrews became leprous, though they remained Hebrew, they were unable to fully enjoy the blessings God provided for His people and they were unable to fully enjoy the fellowship of their brethren.
Just like Miriam, when we resist/reject God’s authority in our lives, we bring God’s judgment upon ourselves: we deprive ourselves of many of the blessings He has already appointed for us. And, denying God’s complete authority in our lives compromises and degrades ALL of our relationships.
God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), therefore there is no love without God. In other words, we cannot enjoy, give, or receive love without God, without submitting to God’s authority.
The problems we have with relationships in our communities are all consequences of our rejection of God. We cannot truly love anyone without God: because God is love. And if we cannot love our neighbors, how can we have healthy relationships with them?
As Jesus pointed out, the first great commandment is to “Love God”, the second great commandment is to “Love your neighbor”. And the second great commandment cannot be fulfilled without the first great commandment (Matthew 22:35-40).
Furthermore, if the rebellious Believer is not “quarantined” from the rest of the brethren, i.e., if his/her rebellion is not confronted and condemned, his/her rebellious attitude towards God can spread to others and infect entire communities (1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11). Indeed, this latent rebelliousness against God’s authority hinders genuine fellowship among church members and prevents us from fully shouldering the mantle of ministry God reserves for each Believer.
God’s authority over our lives is not burdensome, God’s authority is a blessing.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” ~ 1 John 5:3
God’s judgments, God’s corrective disciplinary actions, are not a terror to His children. Miriam became leprous, but she never stopped being a Hebrew. When Believers are disciplined, we don’t lose our salvation: we don’t stop being children in the family of God, joint heirs with Jesus.
“I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.” ~ Psalm 119:52
Like any child should, we remember God’s judgments because we do not want to dishonor our Father: He is holy, He is to be respected and reverenced.
We remember God’s judgments so that we don’t have to repeat our mistakes or repeat the mistakes of others.
We remember God’s judgments so that they will motivate us to do what we know is right.
We remember God’s judgments because they are demonstrations of His love for us: God cares, He is not indifferent toward us.
“5 …despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: 6For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” ~ Hebrews 12:5b-6, 11
We are encouraged to remember God’s judgments so that we stay in glorious fellowship with Him. So that we can fully enjoy the blessings, the ministry, He has in store for us, as members of the Body of Christ. And so that we can enjoy the beauty of brotherly love with other Believers, i.e., other members of the Body of Christ.
This is the fourth of a nine-part series on Principles for the Promised Land summarized from the book of Deuteronomy.