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Sometimes Racism is Hiding in Plain sight

"Let's talk to Moses about leadership" said Miriam to her brother Aaron. " After, all I'm a prophetess too, and Moses just isn't sharing  leadership like he should," Miriam explained to Aaron and the other elders. Miriam and Aaron may have deceived the Hebrews into thinking they were only trying to have a discussion with Moses on distributive leadership. However, they couldn’t fool God. Miriam merely cloaked her racism in a discussion on leadership.  Instead God went right to the heart of the matter. Numbers 12 verse one states, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman”

God didn’t let Miriam and Aaron get away with their racist attitudes.  They attempted to turn a nation against Moses for marrying an African woman. This next verse is the cover for their racist attitude. Numbers 12:2  “And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” All three were leaders. Aaron was a Priest, Miriam was a prophetess and Moses was a leader and a Prophet. T hey were talking behind Moses’ back, interfering where they had no business and bringing division into their fledgling nation. God dealt with Miriam in a no nonsense manner. 

As I meditated on Miriam’s story a scene from when I was a teenager replayed in my mind. I was seventeen years old.  The featured musicians at the Full Gospel Businessmen’s International Convention held in Philadelphia that year were the Singing Simpsons(My Family). There were thousands of people, mainly white, very well to do businessmen, some of whom were millionaires,  in attendance from all over the world.  Everything at the convention was first class. One event was a posh boat ride and fancy luncheon for the teenagers on the Delaware River. David Wilkerson, very popular at that time, of Teen Challenge, was the speaker for this cruise.

As my brother and sisters and I were walking to the deck where the luncheon was to be held I personally heard one of the other teenagers with a southern drawl say, “Why are these niggers on here?”* This was the very first time in my life hearing the N word directed at us. I was shocked and hurt. I couldn’t fathom why that person, another teenager, thought we didn’t belong there. I’d never ever heard myself referred to by that term by any white person in Philadelphia.   It felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

When we got back from the trip I told my mother what happened on the boat. My mother went to the leaders of the convention and shared with them the unfortunate situation on that boat ride. What happened next has stayed with me for a life time. At the very next session,  I think it was  Demos Shakarian, the moderator of the convention, shared with the thousands of people present what happened on the boat. He explained there was no place for that behavior or attitude among the people of God.  He called for a time of repentance right then and there. I remember the people praying, crying and repenting for those racist attitudes and the absolute move of God among the convention.

Back to the passage in Numbers 12, God called Moses, Aaron and Miriam together. God asked Miriam and Aaron weren’t they afraid to talk about Moses? -I wonder today don't people know God  still hears all the things  people are saying and  seeing all their hateful writing? - God wasn’t deceived with their charade about leadership. God saw their evil racist’s attitudes.  God was angry. When God went away from them Miriam was white with leprosy. Aaron pleaded with Moses to please pray to God to heal Miriam.

Moses prayed. God told Moses to let Miriam stay outside the camp for seven days with her leprosy. She needed to learn a lesson.  We read that the whole nation had to stop and wait for Miriam for seven days. Then God healed her and she came back to the camp and they were able to move on.

I wonder today in 2016 is this the reason we seem to be stuck in this nation?   Are we still cloaking something with which we need to deal   We can’t seem to move on.    Reading the passage in Numbers 12, (among other passages), and  thinking about that long ago convention I defy anyone to try and defend racism based on God’s Word. God’s Word has never defended racism and  like the leaders at the convention long ago neither should we. 


*( I usually don’t even say the word or spell it out)

 To read the entire story Read Numbers 12


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