February 23, 2006

Read Numbers 23

In Today's Reading:

Prophecies of Balaam; Israel sins; the plague stopped because of the intercession of Phinehas

The last encampment of the Israelites on the eastern side of the Jordan River was on the Plains of Moab northeast of the Dead Sea near Mount Nebo, a few miles south of today's Amman, Jordan (Numbers 22:1; 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 22:2-4). Even then, believing they could never defeat Israel in battle, Balak sent for the prophet Balaam to put a curse on Israel (22:5-7). He lived in Pethor, a city of northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). This was in the vicinity where Abraham had lived. God said unto Balaam,Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed (22:12).

Knowing the judgment of God would come upon Israel if he could cause them to sin, and coveting the Moabite king's rewards, Balaam wickedly counseled the Moabite women to make friends with and seduce the men of Israel. 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(31:16; Revelation 2:14). Disobedience resulted in a plague of death that swept through the tribes of Israel and those that died in the plague (pestilence) were twenty and four thousand (Numbers 25:9).

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: Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. . . . he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:15-20).

Word Studies:

23:3 peradventure = perhaps; 23:10 dust = descendants; 23:22 unicorn = wild ox; 24:5 goodly = attractive, lovely; 25:3 kindled against = aroused against; 25:7 javelin = spear; 25:18 wiles = treacherous deceit (compare Ephesians 6:11).

Christ Revealed:

As the prophesied Star out of Jacob and Sceptre (Numbers 24:17). Christ is coming to reign in great glory, not only over Israel, but over all men (Revelation 19:15-16). Unto the Son He (God the Father) saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom (Hebrews 1:8). I Jesus . . . am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The English International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored in Jesus' Name · The Arabic International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored by Mrs. Sue Moore · Staff: Pam Pendergrast · Government Officials: Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX) and Rep. Thomas Osborne (NE) · Country: Kenya (29 million) in eastern Africa · Major languages: English and Swahili · Religious freedom · 46% Protestant; 27% Roman Catholic; 17% belief in mystical powers; 6% Muslim; 3% Eastern Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Confess and forsake your sins that you may receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

Optional Reading: Luke 9

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 12:19