It was on this day that Miriam ended a seven-day confinement, as recorded in Numbers 12:
“So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.”
As you should recall, it was slander against Moses that had cost her so dearly. She was stricken with leprosy and then banned from the camp for this seven day period. I can only imagine that some of the people were probably not very happy with her. Because of her mistake, they had to wait for seven days before moving on. Knowing people, murmuring and snickering probably made their way through the camp. That’s how man usually reacts to someone else’s mistake.
Yet in this story, we also see the mercy and compassion of our Father. Yes, He was angry with her because of her slander but He was also very quick to receive her back into the camp. Just like any parent, He gets angry with us but, because He loves us, He is quick to forgive. The psalmist says:
“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
We all need to learn from our mistakes. The greatest lesson that we can learn from our mistakes is to not repeat them and risk incurring God’s anger. We also need to acknowledge that, even though we sometimes fail, our God is always compassionate and always merciful to those who have a repentant heart. Obviously, we should never take His forgiveness for granted, but at the same time, we need to trust in the fact that He is a merciful God.
Contrary to what some people think, our heavenly Father doesn’t look for someone to make a mistake so that He can punish them. That is not His nature at all. He doesn’t take pleasure in punishing us. For that matter, He doesn’t enjoy punishing the wicked of the world. Scripture says:
“As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
Of course, we know that He will punish the wicked, if they remain unrepentant. But His heart is incline more toward mercy and compassionate than it is to judge those who make mistakes. His true heart is portrayed for us in the story of the prodigal son. When the wayward son came to his senses and returned to his father’s house, the father did not wait for the son to come all the way to the house before speaking to him. He did not expect his son to grovel at his feet before he could forgive him. To the contrary, according to the parable, when the father saw his son afar off, the father ran to him, closing the distance between the two. Why? Because he saw a repentant son. That’s all he wanted.
This kind of mercy and love is indicative of the God we serve. He’s just, holy and but He’s also long-suffering, compassionate and quick to forgive. He certainly demonstrated His disdain for slander when He afflicted Miriam with leprosy and put her outside the camp for seven days. But He also made His point about the intent of His heart when He allowed her back into the camp. As He was merciful to her, so shall He be merciful to us, when we humble ourselves before Him.