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Bible Pathways 2/23/2004

Read Numbers 23 -- 25

In Today's Reading:

Prophecies of Balaam; Israel sins; the plague stopped because of the intervention 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 southwest 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 against Israel with his Midianite neighbors (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. Balaam lived in Pethor, a city of northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). This was in the vicinity where Abraham had once lived. However, God said to Balaam,You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people: for 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 the worship of their idol, thus breaking the Israelite covenant vow of allegiance to the One True God. Their 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 (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. Others assume that, where there is mutual consent, it is acceptable. But, all sexual sins are grossly offensive to God: Know you 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 commits fornication sins against his own body. What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you 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 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). To the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom (Hebrews 1:8). I Jesus . . . am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).

Pray For:

Government Official: Rep. Thomas Osborne (NE) · Country: Philippines (79 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English · Religious persecution in some areas · 64% Roman Catholic; 11% Protestant; 8% indigenous Catholic; 8% Muslim; 7% cults · Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy (Psalm 106:1).

Optional Reading: Luke 10

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:11

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