“Go, send, or disobey.”

John Piper


Moses’ first wife was from Saudi Arabia (Midian). In Numbers 12:1, he married a Sudanese[1] woman and it created consternation. We are familiar with the story of Aaron and Miriam’s dissension, but we usually fail to connect that dissension to missions resistance. Here is how the text (vv. 1–2, emphasis mine) reads: “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Sudanese whom he had married; for he had married a Sudanese woman. So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed only spoken through Moses?’”

The objection to Moses being the spokesperson for the mission of God (plan, heart, goals, and activities) linked directly to his marriage with a Sudanese. What seemed like a family squabble for power was actually rooted in and sparked by God’s prophet including the nations in his nuclear family. In essence Miriam and Aaron were saying: “Well, Moses can marry a Saudi and Sudanese and be a living example of God’s mission. But that’s just his perspective and his error! Being mission centered, being focused on the inclusion of all peoples in the plan of God is one way to live and speak, but it is narrow and problematic and uncomfortable. Besides, God has not only spoken that way; there are other options—our preferred ones that are disconnected from the Sudanese and the Saudi and all the peoples of the earth. You don’t have to listen to the God of Moses, the God of Gentile inclusion. We speak against that. We speak for another way of living and viewing the world.”

It’s worth noting that this attack against Moses[2] resulted in Miriam becoming white with leprosy (v. 10). God became so irritated with this small, provincial thinking, He was so angry against this racism and rebuttal of His heart for all peoples that he cast Miriam out of the camp (vv. 9, 14). The irony is profound. An angry God punished the racist who rejected the black wife of Moses with white leprosy and banished from the camp. In effect, when we want to speak against the inclusion of all peoples in the family of God because of our prejudice, when we want to keep them out of the “camp,” God gets so irritated with us that He gives us a taste of what exclusion feels like.

God clearly made Himself known to Moses, and Moses was faithful in all God’s house (v. 6). Surely the fact that Moses, the law broker, the humblest man alive, the man chosen to lead God’s people out of Egypt as a declaration of God’s glory to all nations, surely it was not coincidental that he married a Saudi and a Sudanese. Think of it, this living demonstration that God—at the very center of it all, in the private life of His most trusted servant—loved and blessed all the people groups of the earth. Surely the objection to Moses’ inclusion of the nations as his siblings’ reason for dissent was not accidental. God wants us to see that other spiritual leaders resisted and resented intimate diversity in the household of faith.

Let us be warned. The penalty for non-compliance with the missionary plans, purposes, and prophets of God is to get leprosy and to be thrown from the camp. If we don’t welcome the nations into God’s house, God will give us a punitive taste of what it feels like to be outcast, to be on the outside looking in.

[1] Historically, Cush is the area now known as northern Sudan.

[2] Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses because he married a darker skinned Sudanese, a black woman.

Prayer Focus: Nigeria (89 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Fulani, Nigerian
Population: 13,589,000
Language: Fulfulde, Nigerian
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.26%
Estimated Workers Needed: 272

[Source: Joshua Project]

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