Numbers 23 -- 25
The last encampment of the Israelites on the eastern side of the Jordan River was on the Plains of Moab just northeast of the Dead Sea near Mount Nebo, a few miles south of today's Amman, Jordan (Numbers 33:49; Joshua 2:1; 3:1). Everything seemed peaceful, with no apparent dangers. However, upon seeing this vast multitude of Israelites, who had defied Pharaoh, left Egypt, and conquered everyone who opposed them on their way to Canaan, the Moabites, who lived nearby, were fearful that they too would soon be destroyed. This fear led King Balak to form an alliance with his Midianite neighbors against Israel (Numbers 22:4-7). Even then, believing they could never defeat Israel in battle, Balak sent for the prophet Balaam, who lived in Pethor on the west bank of the Euphrates, to put a curse on Israel. But Balaam was warned by God: You shall not go with them (22:12).
Knowing the judgment of God would come upon Israel if he could cause the Israelites to sin and coveting the king's rewards, Balaam wickedly suggested that the Moabite women make friends with the men of Israel and invite them to attend their immoral, idolatrous worship. Balaam . . . taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication (Revelation 2:14). The friendliness of the Moabite women quickly led the Israelite men to become involved in sexual immorality and idol worship, thus breaking their covenant vow of allegiance to the One True God: And the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods (Numbers 25:1-2).
God had warned the Israelites: You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin (Exodus 23:32-33). Disobedience resulted in a plague of death that swept through the tribes of Israel. Those who died in the plague were 24,000 (Numbers 25:9). While many were weeping and praying, Zimri, son of one of Israel's leaders (25:14), brazenly brought a Midianite woman into his tent to commit adultery. Aaron's grandson Phinehas, a spiritual leader, executed the judgment and justice of God by slaying Zimri and the woman, and immediately the plague ceased. Phinehas was blessed of God and was rewarded with the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel (25:13).
This incident does not imply that anyone today has a right to personally take the life of another except in self-defense, by order of a lawful court, or in military action. But, at this point in Israel's history, God was King of Israel, and Moses, the priests, and the heads of the tribes were responsible to uphold the Law of God and to administer His justice.
Phinehas could have said: "Why should I get involved?" Today some will say that we should not be judgmental, that we should be tolerant of the immoral (alternative) lifestyles that are growing in popularity. But sexual sins are still an outrage against God: The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord. . . . Flee fornication (sexual sins). . . . Your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. . . . Therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:13-20).
As the prophesied Star and Sceptre (Numbers 24:17). Christ is coming to reign in great glory, not only over Israel, but over all men (Rev. 19:15-16).
23:3 peradventure means perhaps; 23:10 dust means descendants; 23:22 unicorn means wild ox; 24:5 goodly means attractive, lovely; 25:3 kindled against means hot against; 25:7 javelin means spear; 25:18 wiles means treacherous deceit (compare Eph. 6:11).
Government Officials: Rep. Thomas Osborne (NE) and Sec. Rodney Slater (Department of Transportation) · BPM Staff: George Kopchak · Pray for Worldwide Evangelization For Christ International · Country: Vanuatu (189,000) a group of 12 large islands southwest of the Solomons in the southwestern Pacific · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 78% Protestant; 17% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray not to be envious of others (Psalms 37:1).
Memory Verse for the Week: