We all have a place of authority in our own little world. Even those who have no family have their own authority to make their own decisions. Once family does enter into the equation there is the husband/wife dynamic and the parent/child dynamic. Out in the world there may be an employer/employee relationship and there is always the citizen/government issue. And ultimately, all of us are under the authority of God who gives all other kinds of authority to others. But that is the issue here today—the authority given has a realm which must not be violated.
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 1:6). Here are the non-humans I mentioned before. These angels somehow left their "position of authority." How, we are not told, but the seriousness of this error is seen in their punishment.
We have another example in King Uzziah. But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD…(2Chr 26:16-21). Even kings, we are meant to understand have a position of authority they must not exceed. No one was allowed to burn incense but a priest and that did not change because the King wanted it to.
In the New Testament Peter tells elders that they are to "shepherd the flock that is among them." When a group of elders decides to butt into the business of another congregation of God's people and tell them what to do, they have "left their position of authority," and they should beware. The consequences will not be pleasant.
And that leads me to Miriam. Miriam was given a leadership role among the Israelites. For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Mic 6:4).
We are not sure exactly what Miriam did during the forty years. We do know that in the beginning, right after crossing the Red Sea, she led the women in worship. For Micah to place her with Moses and Aaron as one of the three who were sent to lead, I think it is a fair judgment that Miriam continued in that role. However, a little over a year after the Red Sea crossing, Miriam became dissatisfied with her God-given role and sought to be on a plane with Moses. She pulled Aaron into it for support, but the punishment—leprosy--and the original Hebrew (I am told) make it plain that this was all her doing. Once again, we have someone leaving their position of authority, even complaining that the position God gave her was not good enough. God's summons, reprimand, and punishment put her back into her place. To her credit, she seems to have taken up her position once again after her punishment, this time without fuss. How else could Micah have described her as he did if she never led the women again in the next 39 years?
That last example is one we women need to consider. God has given us a position of authority. We are one of two parents our children are told to obey, Eph 6:1. We are to be managers of the home, 1 Tim 5:14. We teach and admonish as we sing in worship to God, Col 3:16. We older women teach the younger women, Titus 2:3-6. We even teach men in a private setting, Acts 18:24-26. As nearly as I can tell from reading the New Testament, that is the scope of our authority.
In our culture, we are encouraged to not only go beyond that scope, but to demand a broader realm, exactly as Miriam did. Please go back and read the examples above, and please do not leave out the one about the angels who dared to go beyond their place. That Miriam had a place that long ago and in that society was a gift from God. She was singularly ungrateful and presumptuous in her attitude. She was trying to "be the boss" of not only her siblings, but of God. Don't make the same mistake she did.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression (Ps 19:13).