(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” (Numbers 12:1). The Hebrew word translated here as Ethiopian is כּוּשÑית (pronounced koo-sheeth’ ), is translated Cushite in several Bible versions. The land of Cush lay south of Egypyt. The inhabitants of Cush (Ethiopia), in Isaiah 18:2, are described in the International Standard Version as “…a tall, smooth-skinned nation…” Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots? ” The point of these two Scriptures (obviously as well as the natives of Ethiopia today) is that people from Ethiopia are of very dark skin!
Why did Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses’ Ethiopian wife? Was it because she was a black woman? (By the way, this was probably Moses’ second wife; his first wife of more than 40 years, Zipporah – see Exodus 2:21— most likely had passed away.) The complaint of Moses’ two siblings turned out to be more than just the nationality of this unnamed Ethiopian woman, for in the next verse of Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron’s main complaint is revealed: “And they said, ‘Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ ” But they did complain that Moses had married an Ethiopian!
I bring this incident to our attention because of the racial problems that have come to the fore in recent weeks! The headline names of African-Americans who have died by police gunfire or in police custody in first five and a half months of 2020 include Breonna Taylor (Louisville, KY), George Floyd (Minneapolis, MN), and Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta, GA). These incidents should not have happened – especially grievous was George Floyd’s death when police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers stood by and Mr. Floyd protested over and over, “I can’t breath!” Demonstrations in numerous cities followed! Riots and looting too often followed the demonstrations, destroying public and private property valued in hundreds of millions of dollars! Such destruction did nothing to lift up the names of the dead or of those responsible for their deaths. Instead, the riots and especially the looting were just opportunities for those of criminal minds to advance their own cache of costly goods!
Let’s consider the main issue: The problem is sin, not skin!
- We are all born with a sin nature that matures in varying degrees as rebellion against God! Saint Paul writes in Romans 3:10 through 12:
There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together be- come unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.
Thankfully there are family, social, and legal restraints in place to help keep sin under control and in general give the populace a decent place to live and flourish.
- But underneath the veneer of restraints there resides the manifestations of the sin nature! Paul graphically describes these manifestations (called the works of the flesh) in Galatians 5:19 through 21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewd- ness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambi- tions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like....
These (and other) manifestations are ready to pop up into action at any moment the restraints mentioned above are relaxed.
What, then is the answer? It is placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, having repented of his or her sins, and accepting the payment of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our rebellion against God!
- God, by His Holy Spirit, then births in us a new Godly nature that is holy and does not sin (see I John 3:9; 5:18). In II Corinthians 5:17 it is written, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
- It would be wonderful if we only had that new nature that could not sin. But we still have the old sinful nature also! And Paul warns us in Galatians 5:17 (God’s Word to the Nations):
What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each other. As a result, you don't always do what you intend to do.
So what does this have to do with solving racial prejudice? The Bible speaks to this issue in several passages:
- Genesis 1:26, 27 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Every human being, male and female, of every race, is created in God’s image, and should be treated as such!
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world [the whole world – everyone in the world] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Romans 12:9 (Contemporary English Version) – “Be sincere in your love for others [all others]. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.”
- Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek [non-Jew], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- Revelation 7:9, 10 – “…behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ ” If this is a picture of God’s heaven, should it not be so on His earth?
These passages apply to those who claim to be Christian. But we Christians ought to set the example and spread the good news of God’s redemp-tion! We are to love one another, even those who may appear to be different from us!