February 26

Read Numbers 30 -- 31

In Today 's Reading:

Law concerning vows; Midianites conquered; division of booty; officers and captains bring an offering to the Lord

The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his second wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah died (Genesis 25:1-2). The Midianites had devastated Israel, not as enemies who had won a war but as friendly idol worshipers who seduced the Israelites into committing spiritual adultery. Israel became involved in the worship of their pagan deity Baal-peor followed by physical adultery with their women. This had resulted in the death of 24,000 Israelites (Numbers 25:9). Sometime later, God spoke to Moses, saying: Pay the Midianites back for what they did to the Israelites (31:2).

In this war, Moses sent . . . 1,000 from each tribe along with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest who had the sacred vessels and the signal trumpets in his hand (31:6) to execute the judgment of God upon the Midianites The trumpets were symbols of truth and God's direction. Not one Israelite died in this battle which resulted in the deaths of all five kings of the confederation and every Midianite male (31:7-9,15-17). Along with the other casualties, they killed the five kings of Midian. . . . They also killed (the prominent prophet) Balaam . . . with the sword (31:8). It was not incidental that Balaam had chosen to live in luxury among the Midianites while enjoying the esteem of the king and the people.

Balaam was from Mesopotamia which included Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham had lived before his call from God (Deuteronomy 23:4; see also Genesis 15:7; Acts 7:2). Balak had said to Balaam: Come! Curse Jacob for me! Come! Bring doom on Israel! (Numbers 23:7). Like Balaam, how easy it is to say: Everything the LORD speaks I must do (compare 22:18, 38; 23:26; 24:13). Let me die the death of the upright; let my end be like theirs (Numbers 23:10). But, like Balaam, greed and compromise have deceived many who did not die the death of the upright. Their destiny is eternal hell. But you, dear friends, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life (Jude 1:20-21).

Christ Revealed:

As the Ruling One who will righteously judge the wicked (Numbers 31:1-17). His judgments are true and righteous (Revelation 19:1; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Jude 1:14-15).

Prayer Needs:

Country: Sao Tome and Principe (155,000) two larger and several smaller islands in the Gulf of Guinea, 125 miles off the western coast of Africa · Major language: Portuguese · Religious freedom is fairly new · 83% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant; 2% animist · Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord with all your heart, and tell others of the marvelous things He has done (Psalms 73:28).

Optional Reading: Luke 13

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:11