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 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 invited the Israelites to become involved in the worship of their pagan deity Baal-peor and then to commit 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; 25:17-18).
In this war, Moses sent a thousand of every tribe to execute the judgment of God upon the ungodly Midianites. And they slew the kings of Midian . . . Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword (31:5-9,15-17). Balaam had chosen to live in luxury among the Midianites while enjoying the esteem of the king and the people. It was not incidental that God’s judgment also fell on him (Hebrews 9:27).
Ironically Balaam had said to Balak: I cannot go beyond the Word of the Lord my God, to do less or more (Numbers 22:18, also 22:38; 23:26; 24:13) and Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his (Jacob’s)! (23:10). The Israelites are symbolic of God’s people – the Church (25:1-2). Some “Christians”, like Balaam, seem to seek first the pleasures of this world. Like Balaam, self-interests and compromise have deceived many who assumed they would die the death of the righteous but failed to live the Christian life.
God has said, Christ is before all things. . . . And He is the Head of the Body, the Church . . . that in all things He might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:17-18). The children of God are not told to be successful in worldly goals or pleasures but faithful in pursuit of His will. Authentic believers in Christ make up His Church. It is within the Church that Christ professed that his followers would become without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27). It is for that purpose that we were created. The New Testament knows little of Christianity without loyalty to His Church. Christ . . . gave Himself for it (the Church); That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Thought For The Day:
God can be trusted to always keep His promises. Can we be trusted to keep ours?
31:29 for an heave offering, by a gesture of willingness, waving the sacrifice in presenting it to the Lord; 31:39 tribute, portion assigned to the Lord; required assessment; taxes.
Optional Reading: Luke 13
Memory Verse for the Week: Hebrews 4:16