Numbers 12: Sustaining or Rejecting the Prophet

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 66


One of the wonderful things about the Lord’s Church is that it makes available the gifts of the Spirit to all who worthily seek them. This truth was demonstrated in Numbers 11, when the Lord’s Spirit came upon seventy Israelite men and they prophesied. While anyone may experience these gifts, there still must be order in God’s kingdom. He calls men to preside and He gives them special inspiration needed to govern the Church. To experience spiritual gifts does not mean that we are no longer subject to the priesthood leaders God has chosen to preside over us.Having received spiritual gifts or knowledge, some members begin to see themselves as better than those who preside over them. This pride often leads to criticism of a leader and an unwillingness to follow counsel. Unless critical people humble themselves and repent of their feelings, they soon find themselves cut off from the Spirit and on the road to apostasy. Numbers 12 not only teaches the principle of supporting our leaders but it also shows that even those who should know better may fall to this temptation.

Understanding the Scriptures

Numbers 12

Apparently (v. 8)Clearly 
Dark speeches (v. 8)Things difficult to understand 
Similitude (v. 8)Bodily form 
Behold (v. 8)See 
Leprous (v. 10)Having leprosy (a skin disease; see Bible Dictionary, “leprosy,” p. 724) 
Alas (v. 11)Please 
Beseech (vv. 11, 13)To plead with 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Numbers 12.

Activity A iconWhat Happens When We Criticize the Prophet or Other Church Leaders?

  1. 1.

    What lessons do you think are symbolized by what happened to Miriam?

  2. 2.

    How is Miriam’s punishment related to what we read in Doctrine and Covenants 1:14?