Thursday, May 16, 2019
Moses had one more thing to do before he died and turn over the leadership of Israel to Joshua. In direct obedience to the command of God, Moses was to send an army to destroy the Midianite people who had attempted to subvert the nation through sexual immorality and idol worship. Under the guidance of Balaam, the Midianites sent their women to seduce the men of Israel and lead them to their places of worship of Baal. God punished the men of Israel, some 24,000 of them, with death, and the nation was purified. But God’s judgment of sin was not done.
Numbers 31:1-6 The LORD said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.” So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the LORD’S vengeance on them. Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.” So twelve thousand men armed for battle, a thousand from each tribe, were supplied from the clans of Israel. Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.
Moses chose an army of twelve thousand men, one thousand from each tribe, and under God’s authority they wiped out the Midianite army. When the war was over, they had destroyed every Midianite male and every female old enough to engage in sexual activity. Only the young girls were saved and made slaves of the Israelites. The plunder they took amounted to 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 female slaves. These figures give an indication of the size of the Midianite nation, and yet 12,000 Israelite soldiers defeated them easily without losing one soldier’s life. Not one! God was their Commander-in-Chief and their Protector.
There are two eternal principles of God’s justice to learn from this story. First, God’s justice against sin begins in the lives of the people who have been called to be holy and have been given an inheritance with the saints in glory. We know from experience that this is true. You and I have experienced the discipline of God for sins we have committed. Hebrews 12:5-7 reminds us that a loving Father will always correct His children.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”
Second, God will also punish the source of the sin and destroy it. His justice against sin will be complete and it will be utterly destroyed. Just as He destroyed the Midianites for being the source of seduction for the Israelites, so He will also one day destroy the source of seduction into sin for all of us who are now His chosen people. Even though for now it appears that evil is flourishing, there is a day coming when the price for sin will be paid, and that price is death. (Read Psalms 7, 9, & 11)
The good news is that through Jesus Christ we are delivered from the power of seduction today. We do not have to wait until the Day of Judgment to be free from the seduction of sin. The indwelling Presence of Jesus Christ in our lives has already accomplished that victory for us. The influence of the world is still powerful, but “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) “We have been set free from the power of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) Through the love of Jesus Christ we have “been made more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)
In preparation for their entrance into the Promised Land, the Israelites were told to destroy all sin and sinful people so that the land of promise would be a holy place in which to dwell. You and I are living today in the Promised Land of God’s presence through Jesus Christ, and all the power of sin has been destroyed by His death on the cross. Let’s live in that victory every moment of every day by putting sin to death.