Numbers 30 -- 31
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 by friendly associations with these idol worshipers that seduced the Israelites into committing spiritual adultery by being involved in the worship of their pagan deity Baal-peor followed by physical adultery with their women. This resulted in the death of 24,000 Israelites (Numbers 25:9). Some time later, God spoke to Moses, saying: Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites (31:2).
In this war, Aaron's grandson Phinehas was to lead the way, using the holy instruments, and the trumpets (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). The prominent prophet Balaam . . . they also slew with the sword (31:8). It was not incidental that Balaam had chosen to live in luxury among the Midianites, enjoying the esteem of the king and the people.
Balaam was from Pethor, in Mesopotamia, the area also known as Aram, 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). Balaam spoke of himself as brought . . . from Aram, out of the mountains of the east (Numbers 23:7). As far as we know, Balaam was not a worshiper of false gods, for he said: All that the Lord speaks, that I must do (compare 22:18,38; 23:26; 24:13). Balaam was favored with unusual spiritual insight from God. He proudly and piously said to Balak, King of Midian: I must take heed to speak that which the Lord has put in my mouth. . . . All that the Lord speaks . . . I must do (23:12,26). But greed and compromise are so deceptive. Like Balaam, how easy it is to say: Let me die the death of the righteous (23:10-13), while at the same time disregarding the Word of God and pursuing selfish ambitions that often cause others to sin.
From the example of Balaam and the 24,000 dead Israelites, everyone should recognize that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Balaam had marvelous revelations from God, but something was seriously wrong with his character. He knew that, if Israel fell into sexual sins and the worship of idols, they would be defeated.
But, like Balaam, some who believe in the One True God forget that He is also righteous and must judge sin. Nothing is more dangerous than to see only the loving side of the Creator and fail to realize that He will return to earth in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (II Thessalonians 1:8-9).
As the ruling One who will righteously judge the wicked (Numbers: 31:1-17; compare II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Jude 1:14-15).
31:29 for a heave offering means by a gesture of willingness, waving the sacrifice in presenting it to the Lord; 31:39 tribute means an assessment; taxes.
BPM Staff: Ken Sharp · Pray for Evangelist Mary Hobbs · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Linda Kennon · Country: Vietnam (77 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Vietnamese and French · Very strict control of Christians in the North; the South has been more lenient but is getting tighter · 65% Buddhist and Buddhist sects; 7% Roman Catholic; 4% belief in evil spirits and ancestor worship; .4% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Sing praises to God, for He hears your prayers and delivers you (Psalms 40:1-3).
Memory Verse for the Week: