Monday, May 30, 2011

Numbers: Chapter 31

Moses' last official act as Israel's leader involved revenge on those who had tempted the Israelites to indulge in impurity.  The Midianites--at the suggestion of Balaam, the 'talking' donkey owner--had used the women of Midian to draw the Israelites away from the Lord.  We readily remember that Balaam spoke words of blessing about the Israelites and indicated he understood God had blessed them.  However, Balaam lived his life to bless himself and reaped the consequences of his choice.  The commentary also noted that God had already judged Israel for the falling away (judgment does begin with God's people); this event was the wrath of God released upon Midian.  Also, the Israelites would not have interfered with Midian at all--no wrath of God would have fallen--had the Midianites NOT chosen to tempt the Israelites.  Every choice has consequences...choosing God is the way to eternal blessing for all.

The Midianites drawing the Israelites away from God is akin to the temptation of the world which we all face today.  We must take care to completely destroy our connections to the world--and not simply think we can keep 'the good parts.'  While we are in the world, the world is not to be 'in' us.  God desires a separate people.  We are not to muddy our lives with the world, and the Israelites were not to muddy their nation either. 

God gave a tremendous victory in Moses' final endeavor--not a single life lost--and He also assigned the distribution of the 'booty.'   I loved that the leaders of the army showed their gratitude with an above and beyond gift--the gold was their memorial gift to God.  Here on Memorial Day, we have a great reminder to give glory to God for His blessings!

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