Daily Devotional Saturday 10th October

by William Moody

Numbers 31:1–24

Vengeance on Midian

31:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian. You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war.” So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. They warred against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every male. They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, and they took as plunder all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods. 10 All their cities in the places where they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire, 11 and took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of man and of beast. 12 Then they brought the captives and the plunder and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

13 Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the chiefs of the congregation went to meet them outside the camp. 14 And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves. 19 Encamp outside the camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.”

21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men in the army who had gone to battle: “This is the statute of the law that the LORD has commanded Moses: 22 only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 23 everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. Nevertheless, it shall also be purified with the water for impurity. And whatever cannot stand the fire, you shall pass through the water. 24 You must wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you shall be clean. And afterward you may come into the camp.”

(ESV)

Vengeance comes on the Midianites for them seducing Israel at Peor (v1-3; see Numbers 25 v1-3, 16-18). Phinehas the priest and grandson of Aaron who accompanied the army (v6), was the one who previously killed an Israelite man and Midianite woman who were engaged in immorality (25 v6-9). The taking of articles used in worship (v6) showed how this action was spiritual and for God’s honour.

All the Midianite men were killed (v7-8) including Balaam. The man who had sought to profit by speaking against God’s people meets his destruction.

The Midianite women and children were spared (v9-12), much to Moses’ anger (v13-16) as these women had led Israel astray. The boys and women were then killed at Moses’ command (v17-18).

The act of purification (v19-24) shows what this shocking incident was all about, namely the cleansing of God’s people and the destruction of those who would lead them astray. Here we’re reminded of the seriousness of sin and how we must never deal with it casually (see Matthew 5 v29-30).

We cannot hold unto our sin and at the same time expect God’s blessing. Sin needs to be repented of by all and we must turn to Christ for cleansing.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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