Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.Numbers 20:1-5
Miriam passed away, and this must have been difficult for Moses. Miriam was Moses’ sister. She had been used to sustain Moses’ life in the river. She was a leader in the exodus. She had lead in celebrating Israel’s victory over Egypt after the crossing of the Red Sea. Micah 6:4 even includes her as an influential leader in the exodus.
4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam Micah 6:4
Her death here is part of the consequences that God had spelled out after the children of Israel chose not to go into the promised land. Everyone age 20 years or older would die other than Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb.
Of course, not having water was a problem. This tempted the people who were still following Moses to organize against him. They said three things:
- They should have stayed in Egypt.
- They should have died fighting against God.
- There is no food or provision here.
2 issues here remind us that leadership is not easy.
First, no matter what happens, we do not shed the responsibilities of leadership or our own personal lives when we lead. We must trust God when we go through tough times. Even though Moses was dealing with the grief of losing Miriam, he still had to deal with this problem. So it is with we who lead.
Second, there is a breaking point for those who follow us. Many of the people that remained had not rebelled before. They had followed Moses up until this point. But when things got really bad they complained. How bad would thing have to get for me to complain? Do I trust in God and obey Him no matter how hard it gets?
- Make the case for doing the right things.
- Have courage to say the right things.
- Have discernment to know when, how, and who to influence to do the right things.
- Don’t complain about what is wrong. Work to fix problems and do what is right!