A reader enquires: Aaron and Miriam both criticized Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman, and were jealous that the Lord had spoken through Moses and not them. Yet Miriam was stricken with leprosy and Aaron was not. Why was only Miriam punished?

The record of this incident is in Number 12. The question above refers to “Aaron and Miriam” but the inspired record tells us that it was “Miriam and Aaron [who] spake against Moses”. Miriam clearly was the instigator and Aaron foolishly followed her lead in this matter. The weight of divine punishment properly fell on Miriam for this reason. Note that Numbers 12:1 has this order: Miriam, Aaron, Moses. There is more at stake here than some petty family jealousy. Their rebellious words were heard by Yahweh (v2). And when Yahweh, through His angel spoke, the order, which Miriam and her brother had turned upside down was promptly put right. “And Yahweh spake suddenly unto Moses and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam.”

This was the order of precedence and authority, and it was so by God’s appointment. “Wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” was the stern angelic rebuke. Miriam, the ‘big sister’ of Moses had responsibly watched over him as a babe in the ark of bulrushes, and by her quick thinking helped to bring him to high office in Egypt while still under her mother’s loving tutelage. But she had failed to recognise that her role was a supporting one only and Moses was God’s chosen servant. In reaching out for an equality that did not belong to her, she not only brought punishment upon herself, but the whole nation was affected, their progress to the promised land brought to a halt for seven days.

The reaction of each party when Miriam is smitten with leprosy is also instructive. Miriam, the rebel leader is silent. Aaron, the follower cries out to his brother, calling him “my lord” and begging forgiveness. And Moses, wonderful, faithful Moses, showing not one ounce of bitterness against his sister, cries out to God for her immediate healing and restoration. The divine order has been authoritatively restored.

What’s wrong with dancing?

Another question asks: Why are most Christadelphians against dancing? Note Ecclesiastes 3:4 ,“a time to dance”; Psalm 30:11, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing”; and 2 Samuel 6:14, “And David danced before the Lord with all his might” (David, a man after God’s own heart).

Certainly many, if not most Christadelphians are against “dancing” in the sense of that which involves those worldly entertainments and associations we are encouraged to avoid. Ezra declared: “separate yourselves from the people of the land” (Ezra 10:11). Paul (quoting Isaiah 52) exhorted: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17). And the Apostle Peter speaks plainly: “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet 4:3-4).

The dancing for joy in the things of God which David engaged in (to the embarrassment of his wife who saw only the external ‘undignified’ image and not the heart of David, so moved by his love of his heavenly Father), is a different matter altogether. The references in Ecclesiastes and Psalms also speak of dancing motivated by joy. The dancing we discourage mostly takes place in hotels and clubs etc and involves places and situations at odds with our calling.

There may be innocent circumstances where dancing, for those with the talent and inclination might be appropriate. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. But alas, it is difficult to think of too many circumstances where dancing could be engaged in with a clear conscience, given the worldly environment and associations in which it takes place.

Our choices with music likewise can be challenging. James declares: “Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). Paul’s music choice involved “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). What percentage of the music in our music libraries or on our ipods meets the standards of James and Paul? It is not for us to lay down the law in these matters beyond the general guidelines of Scripture we have alluded to, but we must all give account in due time. A good test is as always, whether we would be comfortable to exercise our choices in these matters with Christ by our side.