Miriam

Miriam: A Biblical Inspiration


With vigilance and optimism Miriam kneeled at the bank of the Nile River watching, waiting and probably praying that her baby brother would be safe as he floated in the riverbank reeds. Secured in a waterproof basket Moses drifted along in great vulnerability towards the spot where Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens often came to bathe. Would they arrive and bathe today? Would they see the basket in the reeds? What would they think? How would they react? The questions must have filled Miriam’s mind.

The idea to try to save the life of her younger brother Moses came because of a recent decree issued by the Egyptian ruler; “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.” (Exodus 1:22) Would the plan devised by Miriam and her mom work?

At around seven years old did Miriam fully realize the risk she was taking? What if the basket tipped over or got caught in the wrong current? What if Miriam’s plan was exposed by the officials and Miriam herself was killed?

Her heart must have raced as the little ark floated along bobbing up and down in the reeds. Finally, the stirring began and Miriam saw the maidens heading towards the water to bathe. In a moment of excitement and utter fear Miriam witnessed the ladies identify the basket and the beautiful baby lying inside. Pharaoh’s daughter instructed the ladies to bring the baby to her and she immediately was overwhelmed with compassion. The plan had worked!

But Miriam’s role had not ended. With sheer boldness and nerve Miriam approached the Egyptian ladies and offered to find a Hebrew mother to nurse the baby. In fulfilling God’s plan for Moses, the Egyptian princess welcomed Miriam’s suggestion and the princess unknowingly reunited Moses with his mother, and the rest is history.

An ordinary girl used by God to accomplish extraordinary things.

Miriam showed great bravery, loyalty and composure that day. She was a young girl and yet she acted with the faithfulness of a grown woman. These characteristics of boldness and faithfulness would follow Miriam as she became an instrumental leader of the Israelite people. Moments after crossing the Red Sea in the exodus of Egypt, it was Miriam that took her tambourine and, following Moses’ own song, led the women of Israel in musical praise of God for His deliverance (Exodus 15:20-21) It is in the recording of this incident that Moses, the author of the book of Exodus, identified his older sister as a prophetess, the first recorded in the Bible.

An ordinary woman leading people in extraordinary times.

The beauty of the Bible however, is that it shows all sides of human life. The victories as well as the failures. We see later in scripture that Miriam makes a significant mistake. Like all of us, sin crept in and her weakness and humanness lead her to gossip and undermine Moses and his leadership of Israel. Miriam opposed Moses and took ire at the fact that Moses had chosen a Cushite wife to marry. Her indignation and judgement angered God and her attempt at greater credibility and equality with Moses actually backfired. God cursed Miriam with leprosy and for 7 days (even after being healed) Miriam was exiled to outside the Israelite camp, a fate worse than death for some.

I imagine that Miriam returned to the camp a humble and contrite person.

God’s anger was swift but so too was his grace. Though little is spoken of Miriam beyond that point it is noted that Miriam lives another thirty-eight years under Moses’ leadership, and she never challenged it again. In fact, we never hear her mentioned again, until Numbers 20, verse 1, when she’s about 130 years old. Here at the border of the Promised Land the scriptures note that Miriam dies. She dies however, still a women of influence, indicated by the fact that her death is recorded.

An ordinary woman the recipient of extraordinary grace

I find the life of Miriam inspirational in several ways.

1. She wasn’t perfect. We all long to be perfect, but sadly we know that isn’t the case. We fall to temptation and fail to live the life of holiness God desires. We make mistakes, stumble through decisions and often try to usurp God by taking control of our life by becoming self-sufficient. Even in our greatest victories our weaknesses often seep through. I take condolence in the fact that God still uses imperfect people to accomplish his perfect plan.

2. She loved her family. We see it from her first introductions. Miriam didn’t just care for her brother she loved him and risked much to save him. As a young girl she proved the beauty of faithfulness and love. Her love for Moses was extraordinary, so much so that it may have been part of what led to her downfall. Her protection for her little brother, the boy whose life she saved, was extraordinary. She proved that love for family is a greater bond than even the risk of death itself.

3. She led by example. After crossing the Red Sea the Israelites could have thrown quite the raucous party, but the celebration they gave was one that glorified God. It was Miriam who led the women in publically worshipping God for his deliverance. (Exodus 15:20-21) Miriam didn’t wait for someone else to pick up the tambourine she did it herself; leading by example. She was a leader of women and her influence was remarkable.

4. She humbly accepted grace. After Miriam was banished from the camp she could have returned angry and insubordinate. She could have thrown Aaron under the bus, cursed God or done all she could to undermine Moses, but she didn’t. Often, when we get publically humiliated our tendency is to sometimes want to get revenge. We see that Miriam seemed to take a different approach. Although some of her influence may have been lost, she lived in submission and peace for many more years. Miriam must have learned from her mistakes and accepted the beauty of God’s grace to her.

A woman of inspiration

Much could be said in regards to Miriam’s’ influence and character, but I think the prophet Micah sums it up best. Some 700 years after Miriam died God through Micah reminds the Israelites of their heroic leaders of long ago. “And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” (Micah 6:40)

God honored Miriam by acknowledging that He chose her—along with Aaron—to assist Moses in serving His nation Israel. God listed her in such select company because she had set a faithful example for all Israelites in her time and all mankind forever. [1]

God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things!

This month our blogs will focus on several inspirational women. I encourage you to follow along and read about many of the ways that we see women being used in extraordinary ways around the world. Like Miriam, they are inspiring and encouraging. There is much we can learn! I hope you will be edified and encouraged by the testimonies we share over the next few weeks.

Ideas and inspiration for this blog were taken from: [1] http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/profiles-faith-miriam-lifetime-faith

About John

John Warden, our Director of Mission Initiatives, provides oversight and training for the TCT - Local program. John has had the opportunity to work with Christians around the world in elements of worldview, poverty, outreach and wholistic ministry. Join us in this initiative to reach and love the world around us for God’s glory.

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