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Bible Pathways 02/23/2003

February 23

Read Numbers 23 -- 25

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 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 to put a curse on Israel. He lived in Pethor, a city of northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). This was in the vicinity where Abraham had lived. God said to Balaam, You must not go with them! You must not curse these people, because they are blessed (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. 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.

Disobedience resulted in a plague of death that swept through the tribes of Israel and 24,000 died in the plague (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: Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ? So should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Absolutely not! . . . The person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:15-20).

Christ Revealed:

As the prophesied star and scepter (Numbers 24:17). Christ is coming to reign in great glory, not only over Israel, but over all men (Revelation 19:15-16). But about the Son: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice (Hebrews 1:8); I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Thomas Osborne (NE) · Country: Rwanda (8 million) in central Africa · Major languages: Kinyarwanda and French · Religious freedom · 40% Roman Catholic; 21% Protestant; 14% belief in false gods, ancestor worship, and spirit-possession cults; 9% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: What a comfort to know that we can depend upon the Lord's strength (Psalms 71:16).

Optional Reading: Luke 10

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:11

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