““Have you let every female live? ” he asked them. “Yet they are the ones who, at Balaam’s advice, incited the Israelites to unfaithfulness against the Lord in the Peor incident, so that the plague came against the Lord’s community.”
Numbers 31:15-16 HCSB
The war against the Midianites was out of vengeance. Part of this vengeance is because the women had relations with the men and caused them to stray. This was as much vengeance from the Lord as anything. The Lord used the Israelites to exact His vengeance on them.
““If a woman in her husband’s house has made a vow or put herself under an obligation with an oath, and her husband hears about it, says nothing to her, and does not prohibit her, all her vows are binding, and every obligation she put herself under is binding. But if her husband cancels them on the day he hears about it, nothing that came from her lips, whether her vows or her obligation, is binding. Her husband has canceled them, and the Lord will absolve her. Her husband may confirm or cancel any vow or any sworn obligation to deny herself. If her husband says nothing at all to her from day to day, he confirms all her vows and obligations, which are binding. He has confirmed them because he said nothing to her when he heard about them. But if he cancels them after he hears about them, he will be responsible for her commitment.””
Numbers 30:10-15 HCSB
This chapter deals with vows, and the Old Testament understanding that a woman was under her husband or father’s responsibility. What stood out to me here isn’t the laws surrounding a woman being submissive to her husband, as I believe this was simply customary in those times, but rather what stands out to me is the responsibility the husband has. He has authority, sure, but he also bore all of the responsibility…
““You are to hold a sacred assembly on the tenth day of this seventh month and practice self-denial; you must not do any work.”
Numbers 29:7 HCSB
Reading this verse and I am reminded that not doing work is a form of self-denial. Sometimes when I think of Sabbaths, I think that must be easy – to not work! But I am convicted because often times I find myself doing work even when I shouldn’t be – and justifying it. The truth is, I want to do the work! Not only for the financial benefit, but also because it is genuinely enjoyable sometimes to do. But the Lord knows better. He knows that I need that time to genuinely rest. That I need that rest, and I need to step away from my work.
“Offer two quarts with each of the seven lambs and one male goat for a sin offering to make atonement for yourselves.”
Numbers 28:21-22 HCSB
Only blood can atone for our sins. Jesus paid this price, and atoned for our sins.
““May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the community”
Numbers 27:16 HCSB
Moses has been told that he is about to die, so he appeals to the Lord to appoint a leader. This is the beginning of his request. What I find interesting is what Moses refers to the Lord as. I am reminded of Jesus’ telling us that the Lord is God of the living. This tells me that our flesh is just tents, that the Lord is actually God of our souls.
“The sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. (It was Dathan and Abiram, chosen by the community, who fought against Moses and Aaron; they and Korah’s followers fought against the Lord. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them with Korah, when his followers died and the fire consumed 250 men. They serve as a warning sign. The sons of Korah, however, did not die.)”
Numbers 26:9-11 HCSB
This chapter is another census, but as I read it, I come across this passage, and am reminded that while the Lord may punish the wicked, and even bring that wrath to the family of the wicked, He is still just and righteous. I am assuming Korah’s sons were not involved in their father’s rebellion.
“An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman to his relatives in the sight of Moses and the whole Israelite community while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he got up from the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent, and drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman — through her belly. Then the plague on the Israelites was stopped,
“Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites because he was zealous among them with My zeal, so that I did not destroy the Israelites in My zeal. Therefore declare: I grant him My covenant of peace.”
Numbers 25:6-8, 11-12 HCSB
Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson was zealous with the Lord’s zeal, and was blessed. He hated what the Lord hated, and presumably loved what the Lord loved. This separated him because everyone has passions, but not everyone’s great passion aligns with that of the Lord.
“Balaam answered Balak, “Didn’t I previously tell the messengers you sent me: If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the Lord’s command, to do anything good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the Lord says.”
Numbers 24:12-13 HCSB
I am humbled by Balaam. I could only hope to be like him. He was true to his word, and that of what the Lord told him. He could have said a blessing, though it would have been empty words, and come away rich, but he didn’t. He was obedient to the Lord and the gift He gave him.
“God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?”
Numbers 23:19 HCSB
I look at this, as Balak is trying to get Baalam to curse Israel. It is not only the truth, but the truth I know all too well, but there is something about it that reminds me how God is so unlike me!
“God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “Since these men have come to summon you, get up and go with them, but you must only do what I tell you.”
But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that You were standing in the path to confront me. And now, if it is evil in Your sight, I will go back.” Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you are to say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.”
Numbers 22:20, 22, 34-35 HCSB
These three sets of verses are surrounding a single event that I am having a little trouble getting my head around. Balaam is following the Lord’s instruction to go (he didn’t go the first time because the Lord told him not to). But by going he upsets the Lord who stops him. Then when he inquires of the angel, he learns that he is in fact supposed to go ahead, but all the while only do what the Lord tells him.
I wonder if the Lord was upset, not because Balaam had chosen to go, but because Balak, the king who summoned him had been so persistent, and he wanted to drive home to Balaam the importance of doing exactly what he has been instructed to do.