Author: Believers Chapel

Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Devotional:

We close the reading plan by briefly looking at perhaps the entity prone to epic fails most: the nation of Israel. Time and again, over many years, they struggled to hold firm to their faith in God.

God delivers them from the hands of the Egyptians and rescues them from slavery, yet they complain and lack faith all throughout their journey to the Promised Land. Israel commits idolatry more than I’d like to count. Sexual immorality was a problem, as we read in today’s passage. God is constantly correcting the nation, His people, even though He is always showing them how good He is to them. It’s why they wandered 40 years in the desert. It’s why they were constantly overtaken by their enemies and even exiled to Babylon.

Israel was prone to wander, but then again, so are we. Truth is, if God can still have patience, grace, and love for His people over thousands of years, He has it for you and me. There may be times of correction, but it’s because God loves us He does these things, like any good parent.

If there is one thing you take away from this plan, it’s that I hope you see your past doesn’t define you or your future. If these men and women messed up big time and God still used them for great purposes, won’t He use you as well? He is the same for you as He was for them; God’s guaranteed to never change. Trust in that and put your hope in Him. All you need is a repentant heart and commitment to follow Him. You’re not promised an easy life, but you are promised that He will always be with you.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Acts 7:54-60

Devotional:

There was once a young man zealous in his religion. Born in Tarsus, a hotbed for Roman activity, he had the privilege of studying in Jerusalem with the ranking rabbi of the era. A well-to-do family, comfortable lifestyle, and top-notch education afforded the man a pathway to prominence. He stewarded his opportunity with fervor and boldness, rising so quickly that at the age of 30 he already had a role on the Sanhedrin and was becoming one of the most promising young Pharisees in the country.

He began to lead a charge against Christians, persecuting them even to death. He believed these people were blasphemous and had to be dealt with severely. One day a disciple of Jesus, Stephen, began to preach the Gospel which infuriated the Sanhedrin. Witnesses took off their robes and laid them at the feet of this young Pharisee, and as they picked up their stones to brutally kill the apostle, the man watched on approvingly. The disciple was killed and the man set off to further crush the budding Christian community.

This man was Saul, but we now know him as Paul. The great Paul who became the first missionary, who preached the Gospel boldly, and who wrote most of the New Testament. This man went from a rising star among the Pharisees and persecuting the early church to one of the biggest proponents of the Gospel. What an incredible transformation!

What encourages me the most from his story, and it’s really quite simple, is that if Paul can be redeemed and used, anyone can! The guy murdered Christians and God saved him to be used to spread the Gospel more than most. It goes to show that even if you think you’re too far gone or you’ve done too much harm to be of any use to God, you’re mistaken. If God can use someone who murdered His people, He can and WANTS to use you for His purposes.

Paul’s story is full of great testimonies and practical lessons, but that would take a book to explore. Today I want to leave you with the simple message that you are not too far gone. You have not committed so much sin that you are no longer of any use to God. I’ve been there and struggled with these very feelings, but talking from personal experience, I know God redeems!

If you’re struggling to let go of baggage or shame, take a look at Paul’s life. Over the many years he was in ministry, he did look back a time or two and comment on his failure. But Paul never allowed those failures to dictate how God used him. He never allowed them to become a weight that interfered with his purpose.

Remember this: your past will never trump God’s vision of who you are or where you are going.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • John 8:1-11

Devotional:

In John 8 we find an incredible story about a woman caught in adultery who encounters Jesus. We don’t know much about her, other than she was married and she was caught in the act of adultery. At that time, the punishment for such sin was death by stoning. Therefore, the Pharisees bring her to such judgment while at the same time attempting to test Jesus.

They bring the woman before Jesus while in the temple, where no doubt he had a large audience to observe the entrapment. They ask him what should be done, thinking that he’ll either obey that law to stone her and perhaps seem harsh, or not obey the law and therefore they would be able to bring a charge against him for disobeying the law. But in true Jesus fashion, and I love this, he responds in a way they don’t see coming at all!

Jesus tells them that whoever hasn’t sinned can cast the stone. As we all know, everyone has sinned. And I mean everyone, except Jesus. He could have, but he didn’t. The Pharisees had obviously all sinned so how could they judge her. One by one they peel off until it’s just her and Jesus. This woman who had recently been caught in adultery–no doubt carrying shame and guilt–is now left alone with the holy Son of God.

I can only imagine the sheer awe, humility, and again shame she must have felt. I’ve felt something so similar in my own sin. In fact, in that place of knowing I’ve failed God, all I want to do is be as far from Him as possible, not because I want to be away from Him (in fact, I want to be so near to Him), but because I feel ashamed and unworthy of His grace. Have you felt that before? If so, perhaps you can understand in some way what this woman may have been experiencing.

This woman had a life-changing experience with Jesus on the precipice of death. When she thought she would receive a stoning she instead received grace. This story is echoed time and again in the New Testament; sinners experiencing an encounter with Jesus that would forever change their life.

Jesus wants to do the same for you today. If you’re battling a temptation or find yourself caught in a lifestyle of sin, Jesus is right there for you like he was for the woman in John 8. And just like then he wants to extend incredible grace to you now. Will you receive as the woman did and watch Jesus use your life in profound ways?

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Matthew 26:30-35
  •  Matthew 26:69-75

Devotional:

A little background on Peter: his name was originally Simon before Jesus gave him the name Peter, which means “rock.” He and his brother were the first two disciples called. Peter was married and had been a fisherman before following Jesus. Fishermen in that day were known to be bold, abrasive, and rough; they were a man’s man you might say. He had a reputation as a disciple of sticking his foot in his mouth and not being afraid to speak his mind. However, he was also the first disciple to call Jesus the Son of God. His name was changed to mean “rock” because he would end up becoming pivotal to the Early Church.

The night of his arrest, Jesus tells the disciples that they will deny him yet Peter rebukes him. Jesus then proceeds to speak directly to Peter that three times it will happen before the rooster crows. Peter is so adamant he will never betray Jesus and yet he does this very thing.

You might think you would never do this or that, yet because you are unwilling to admit the possibility you don’t properly take the necessary precautions to guard yourself. As a result, you may very well end up doing what you said you never would.

That night Peter denies Jesus three times, and he doesn’t even realize it’s happening until the rooster crows. In his failure, he couldn’t see what was happening until it was too late. Rather, he was so consumed by the circumstances he wouldn’t admit what was happening.

Can you imagine how he felt? He denied his best friend and Savior, now believing it was too late for reconciliation as Jesus had died. The guilt and shame he carried, along with the sorrow of losing someone he loved so much, must have been immensely difficult. Thankfully, he did have a conversation with Jesus. After the Resurrection Jesus appears to some of the disciples and Peter literally jumps out of the boat to get to Jesus. There on the beach, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him; three opportunities to restore the three denials.

Maybe you’ve turned your back on God? Maybe it’s one disappointment after another and you feel like God has given up on you. Because you’re feeling lost and forgotten you’ve decided to give up on God. Whether you’ve denied Jesus or are on that path, look to him and, like Peter, run towards God! He will forgive you, always, as long as you have a repentant heart. It’s never too late to run to him.

After that conversation, things changed in Peter’s life. He ended up becoming what his name meant–a pillar in the Early Church. He would boldly proclaim the Gospel, no matter the consequence; never did he betray Jesus again. In fact, he would end up being crucified for his commitment to the Savior he loved.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Jonah 1:1-3

Devotional:

Jonah was a prophet living near Nazareth when God called him to go to the pagan city of Nineveh. Nineveh was a large city in the Assyrian Empire, a sworn enemy of Israel. Not only that but Nineveh had a reputation for cruel and unusual punishment of their enemies, which Jonah no doubt had heard about. Their torture techniques were infamous and Jonah wanted no part of what might lie ahead for him there.

When Jonah gets the call from God to go to Nineveh he immediately flees. Nineveh was 500 miles to the east but Jonah flees for Tarshish, 2,000 miles to the west. In fact, at that time it was the furthest he could go west, trying to get as far from Nineveh as possible. What drastic measures to run from the call of God.

Jonah boards a ship and a storm rages so intensely that the unbelieving sailors start praying to their gods. Jonah, meanwhile, is sleeping below and completely oblivious to the chaos those unbelievers are facing. Sometimes in our own abandonment of God’s call on our life we become complacent and lose sight for the lost around us. In fact, it’s the unbelieving captain that wakes Jonah and calls him to pray to God!

Jonah is thrown overboard and what would have been thought certain death was just a step towards getting Jonah where he needed to be. A great fish, commonly accepted as a whale, swallows Jonah. It’s in here–in the darkness of a fish in the middle of the ocean–that Jonah has this intimate time with God. Much similar, it’s in your darkest hours that you will find your sweetest and most powerful moments with God.

The whale vomits Jonah onto dry land and the prophet journeys to Nineveh. You’d think Jonah would have faced major opposition there, but amazingly the whole city repents when Jonah prophesies God’s judgment on the city. The whole city, even the king! A fast is called for and as a result of their repentance, God spares the city from destruction.

You’d think Jonah would be pleasantly surprised and exceedingly glad at God’s compassion for the city, but he’s not. Jonah was displeased and angry, so much so that he goes outside the city and pouts a bit. Jonah was so angry that the people of Nineveh were spared that he’d rather die! Why might you ask? Because he was an Israelite and those people were his enemies. His national pride meant more to him in that moment than the salvation of thousands of people. In that clouded judgment, God teaches Jonah a lesson through the provision and taking away of a plant that shaded the man. How can Jonah question God when it’s God who provides in the first place? It’s God’s call. And with that, God puts that back on Jonah and the book’s abrupt ending leads us to believe Jonah knew he was left corrected.

What can you learn from Jonah and his story? Walk in obedience to what God is calling you to do! Don’t hesitate or run in the opposite direction until God has to knock you off the wrong path. Learn from Jonah’s mistake! Delayed obedience is still disobedience and who knows what that divergence could cause. If God is calling you to move and you’re afraid or too proud to see what He might do, repent and move forward in that plan.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

Devotional:

Do you ever look at some people’s lives–a co-worker, family member, neighbor–and convince yourself their grass is greener? You witness God’s blessings on their life, marriage, family, and job, all the while wishing you could have the same favor. I can’t help but think many people looked at Job and used to have these same thoughts.

Job had it all: the large family, comfortable lifestyle, cushy bank account, respect in the community. In the very first verse of Job we learn so much about his character.

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

Job was blessed because his heart was in the right place–focused on God. He was a man known for his character and passion for God, even when no one was looking.

Most of us know the story of Job and the long-suffering he endured. As it goes, Satan was at the throne of God and God points out the character of Job. It’s incredible to read how God pointed out this man and yet sad to hear true commitment to God was so rare. Satan comes back and says that of course Job is upright because he hasn’t had to suffer. So God allows Satan to test Job, to in fact prove his commitment to God, up to the point of death. So Satan goes to work.
Satan takes away all of Job’s property and children; that would be devastating to anyone and certainly push many of us to the brink. But Job holds firm to God in the darkest of hours. It doesn’t stop there either; Satan then proceeds to do the worst he can to Job physically, so he covers Job in very painful boils all over his body. I cringe when I read that he uses broken pottery to scrape at the sores.

Job would be in this dark place for a while and people would try to discourage him along the way. His wife tells him to curse God. His friends tell him there must be some sin in his life to experience such turmoil. For much of the trial Job tries with all his might to hold true to God. But as many of us have done, we’ve broken under the weight of our trial.

Job has a breaking point and he calls God out, asking for an opportunity in court to take up his cause, because he felt God had dealt with him unjustly. God goes into this eloquent comeback that how could Job be His equal in court if he cannot comprehend all that God has done. Job realizes his sin and repents with great conviction.

You and I don’t and won’t have all the answers. You will go through seasons or experience situations you don’t understand in that moment so your faith will be required of you. When understanding runs out, faith makes its greatest appearance. Take what you know about God–that He is always good, that He has a bigger plan in the works, that He loves you–and rest in that knowledge. It doesn’t mean things will immediately get better, but it will carry you through the trial.

Job was upright and passionate about God, but he still had so much he could learn and greater intimacy to experience. He found that in the storm. And when he came out of that storm, God blessed Job more than ever before.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  •  Ecclesiastes 1:2

Devotional:

“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ’Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’”

The great King Solomon proclaimed these words as he penned Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. Having given into many whims, desires, and temptations throughout his life, the king declared with certainty that all was meaningless. That every worldly desire left him empty.

Solomon didn’t start out wayward. He was born to godly parents–although they made their own fair share of mistakes–and raised in a home that nurtured his future. He was made King over Israel and had everything he could ever want, including a godly wife and God’s great task to build the temple. In 1 Kings 3 his greatest prayer is for wisdom, which God answers more than he could have hoped for. Not only does Solomon become the wisest man to ever live, but God blesses him with riches and honor for his heart’s pure desire.

Solomon started off strong but he let temptation get a firm hold on his life. Solomon ended up pursuing so many of the world’s offerings. I really encourage you to take time today and this week to read the book of Ecclesiastes, because it will give you a pretty good idea of all that he pursued; he goes so far as to say that he denied himself nothing his eyes desired. He satisfied his lust for women; having hundreds of wives and concubines. He amassed great wealth and property which he delighted himself in. Solomon denied himself of nothing; he had everything he thought he could ever want, but it came with a price.

Sin creates distance between us and God; not because He loves us any less but because sin breaks His heart. It makes us less like Him and more like the Deceiver. As Solomon reflects on the way he lived his life, he makes a plea for people to follow God in their youth. Reading Ecclesiastes I believe that Solomon wished he could have done it all differently.

You might be dabbling with some of the things of this world. Perhaps you’re heading into a trial and your first, second, or third instinct may be to seek comfort in this world. If this is you, flee from temptation. Learn from the mistakes of the wisest person who ever lived. Resolve to embrace that the things of this world pale in comparison to our beautiful God and that everything is meaningless outside of Him. No desire, accumulation of wealth, advancement, or person will fill the aches you might feel in your soul. Only God can reach those places and love you the way you long to be loved.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  •  2 Samuel 11:1-27
  •  2 Samuel 24:1-25
  • 1 Kings 1:29

Devotional:

A boy–the youngest in a large family–chosen out of obscurity to be the next king of Israel. A teenager inexperienced in war up against an infamous giant; granted victory with a slingshot. A young man with access to the king and given in marriage to a princess. A soldier granted triumph over his enemies and the adoration of a country.

David was a man after God’s own heart–the only to be described so poetically–who had everything a man could ever want. He perseveres through every trial, holding firm to his faith in God in incredibly dark storms. Through his early battles as an adult, David didn’t waver or doubt his circumstances but believed that God would be good to him. And He was good, indeed. Rarely do we see such obvious favor on a person as we see on David.

After the many years as king, things began to take a turn for David; not because God’s favor diminished, but because David grew complacent. When David should have been at war, his lack of obedience left him in a vulnerable place that led him to temptation, and ultimately, sin. David had an affair with a married woman named Bathsheba, conceived a child with her, and had her husband killed in war.

No doubt being in the wrong place leaves us vulnerable to temptation, which can lead to sin if not careful. Thankfully God forgave David but it did cost him his child.

The fact that David also had many wives led to great trouble. With many children born into a divided family a family feud was inevitable. David’s eldest son raped his half-sister, and her full brother then killed the firstborn son when David would do nothing to reprove the man. That same son who committed murder would then drive David out of the city and attempt to overthrow him as king. These heartaches could have been avoided if David had stayed true to God’s word, but he let his desires for women get the best of him.

Another major fail of David is the census he conducts in 2 Samuel 24 which God had commanded to Moses not be done. As a result of giving into the temptation and playing into pride, God judged Israel for three days–70,000 men died. When the angel reached out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, God grieved and had mercy on His people.

David’s mistakes affected thousands of people, and ours affects others as well. No sin or mistake is kept hidden; they cannot remain only your burden. Through it all, however, God is good and He uses it for His purposes. I love what David shares at the end of His life as he reflects on God. In 1 Kings 1:29 he proclaims,

“And the king swore, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity.’”

David made mistakes and he admits he’s been through a lot as a result, BUT, through it all God was there for him. And God is there for you.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Judges 16:4-31

Devotional:

Samson was born to a woman who for many years was barren. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she had conceived, and provided some guidelines for her and her son. The key rule she had to follow concerned her son, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. She was told to not let a razor touch his head, for he was to be a Nazarite.

Samson was born and did keep this one law for much of his life, although many of the unspoken Nazarite laws he did not. He married a Philistine woman and had sexual relations with women he was not married to. He ate honey from a dead animal, which would have been unclean. I also can’t help but pick up a hint of pride and disrespect for his parents. Perhaps his greatest weakness was women; he struggled with lust more than once.

However, God had divinely chosen Samson, and His favor was on the man for many years and indeed used him in many ways. From what we read in the Bible, Samson killed 1,030 Philistines before being captured by them. He made such a huge dent that he caught the attention of the Philistine leaders and was pursued by them on multiple occasions.

It’s not until he gives into his lust for Delilah that he is captured. Three times Delilah asks Samson what his weakness is, and three times he lies. Three times the Philistines rush in to capture Samson and each time he prevails. You’d think at this point Samson would dump her, or at least not tell Delilah his true source of strength. But he doesn’t, and the fourth time he is asked he does tell her where his strength comes from. At that, she cuts his hair when he’s sleeping and the Philistines capture him. The great Samson is blinded, mocked, and left to the status of a prisoner, all because of his lust for women and lack of obedience.

His hair begins to grow back, and at a party with thousands of the most powerful Philistines he prays to God for strength one final time to bring the building down in a final blow to Israel’s enemies. I’m so moved by his prayer because it’s the most humble and God-focused prayer he utters. Having been stripped from it all–physical strength, freedom, sight, pleasure, pride–Samson finally finds a spiritual strength he always lacked.

Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past.

I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before. With his final breath, Samson killed more Philistines than he had in his whole life up to that moment.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Exodus 32:1-35
  •  Numbers 12:1-16

Devotional:

Aaron and Miriam were the siblings of Moses and played a significant part in Israel’s journey out of Egypt. Aaron was appointed a prophet and Miriam a prophetess in the nation of Israel, leaders chosen purely out of God’s grace.

Their first major mistake–and it’s a big one–comes to play in Exodus 32 while Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments from God. While Moses is up there Aaron was left to oversee the nation. It’s really quite sad what happens next. Moses had been up on the mountain for a while and the people began to worry. So Aaron proposes they make a golden calf to worship. Moses is literally hearing from God about the sin of idolatry and the people are below doing this very thing.

The people form a golden calf and begin making offerings and worshiping it, which led to sin and immorality. God informs Moses of what’s happening and he is very angry, understandably. In fact, we learn in Deuteronomy 9:20 that God was so angry with Aaron He wanted to kill him until Moses interceded. But then Moses sees it all for himself and is angry as well, confronting Aaron. It gets worse here as Aaron blames the people and lies to say the calf appeared on its own in the fire (which Aaron had fashioned with his own hands).

I really want to shake my head at Aaron in disappointment and admonish his mistake because it’s so obvious what he did was wrong. But then I take a look at my own life and I can’t say I’m any better. Chances are you can’t either if you’re honest. I know I’ve had a time or two I lost sight of God–felt like He was distant–and out of fear or discouragement I turned to something unhealthy in this world.

Moving on, there is a moment in Numbers 12 when both Aaron and Miriam undermine and disrespect their brother Moses, who is the appointed leader over the people of Israel. I’m truly intrigued by this story because there are so many layers to it. On the surface they seem to be opposing Moses for marrying a Cushite; someone outside of their community. Perhaps they looked down upon Moses for marrying her? Another suggestion is that Miriam (who led the charge against Moses) was jealous her position as a female leader in the community would be threatened by his wife. Maybe it was an excuse for other ill feelings they had against Moses. Perhaps the best answer lies in their own envy of Moses’ leadership as stated in verse 2.

The Lord hears this conversation and immediately calls them and Moses together to address the situation and take up defense for Moses (a subtle reminder God takes up our cause!). At that God addresses their envy. Yes, they are prophets and He speaks to prophets through dreams and visions, but Moses is more than a prophet. With Moses alone does He talk with face to face. God makes it clear there is a distinct difference in His relationship with Moses. He then brings leprosy upon Miriam and she is cast out of the community for seven days.

Again, I can’t help but see Miriam and Aaron’s sin in my own past. Comparison, which leads to envy, inflicts us all at one point or another. May we be reminded to check our own comparison of others lest we become envious and sin in our heart, against others, and against God.

Aaron and Miriam made mistakes–idolatry, lying, envy–but God was still gracious, loving, and forgiving towards them and used them to be leaders in the nation of Israel in a very pivotal time in history.

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