Numbers 25-31 Continued Wanderings
Numbers 25-31 Continued Wanderings
Good evening church. Open your Bibles with me to Numbers chapter 25. If you were with us last week, hopefully you remember the story of the prophet Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was approached by the servants of Balak to come and curse the Israelites that had encroached on this land. Balak offered great wealth to do so, but Balaam said he could only say what God told him to say, and could not go beyond that. But the offer kept getting sweeter and sweeter. While Balaam was on his way his donkey kept interfering with him, blocking his path, and finally, Balaam started beating his donkey, his struck him three times....the Bible says that the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and he (the donkey) said “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
And we see that either by mission or greed, Balaam was so messed up in the head, that rather than be taken back by his donkey talking to him, he just starts arguing back to him. In our text last week, it looked like Balaam, although he kept getting closer and closer to the line, held fast to his line of only speaking the things given to him by God. But you might remember be saying there was more to the story. I’m not sure that we will make it that far this evening, but in chapter 31:16 there is another reference to Balaam and the incident of Peor. He’s mentioned in a couple of NT passages as well. The first being…In a passage that is speaking about false prophets
15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
And again in the letter from Jude which is all about keeping yourself in the love of God we read in Jude 11
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Alright, one more, so you can see what his offense was. In the book of Revelation, to the church of Pergamos, Revelation 2:14
14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Chapter 25 begins with the results of this in the area of Peor. Peor was a mountain in the area. Apparently, Balaam held firm on the line of he wasn’t going to cross the line and pronounce a curse on Israel as God had told him not to, but flattered and drawn to the incitements offered by Balak, it seems like he told Balak about the relationship Israel had with God. That unlike the people in the area, they had one God, a jealous God. And they weren’t to have any other gods. Their God won’t tolerate idolatry and will pour out his wrath against them, sooo maybe try this.....send in your young women....Lets Pray and dig into chapter 25 and see how far we get!
1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.”
Moses obey’s the Lord...
5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.” 6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
OK, so Moses has ordered a cleansing of the camp. Those that had joined themselves to this false god were slaughtered. The people are mourning and weeping, and right in the middle of that, in the sight of Moses and the rest of the people a young guy comes along and is like, hey, check her out! I’ve got the best temple prostitute of Baal of all times…Phineas takes action, he was one of Aaron’s grandsons. Verse 7
7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Tragic, so Balaam didn’t directly curse Israel, but his actions certainly resulted in a terrible curse upon the people of God…verse 10
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ”
The passage then names the names of the man and the women that Phinehas killed with the javelin, and God gives the order to Moses to mess with the Midianites. Ultimately, because Balaam had assisted them, he dies with them.
Now in chapter 26 we have another census, a numbering of the people. Quite different now, after having wandered unnecessarily in the wilderness for a period of 40 years. But probably not different in the way that you might expect. Generally, after a period of 40 years, you would expect a population to grow and multiply. Some tribes did, and others were suffered severe loss. Remember the tribe of Levi, the priest weren’t counted in either numbering, but when they started the count of the males age 20 and above was 603,550 and now it was 601,730, so a little over 1,800 less than when they started their 40 years of stagnation.
We get a little bit of history about Moses and his family at the very end of the chapter…his father was Amrams…actually, look at verse 59...
59 The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam. 60 To Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 61 And Nadab and Abihu died when they offered profane fire before the Lord.
We don’t know exactly what that was, but you can read about it more, if interested in Leviticus chapter 10. Verse 63
63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho. 64 But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had said of them, “They shall surely die in the wilderness.” So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
And of course Moses who is soon to be with the Lord before they enter into the land. In chapter 27, we begin to see a change in the rights of women, with a group of sisters that are seeking what is theirs. See in this time, when the patriarch of the family died, the goods would be divided among the sons, with the largest portion of land being given to the oldest son, chapter 27 vs. 1
1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, from the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
This guy only had daughters, there were no sons. So the ladies go to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and make their appeal, look at verse 3
3 “Our father died in the wilderness; but he was not in the company of those who gathered together against the Lord, in company with Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.” 5 So Moses brought their case before the Lord.
Oh, the wisdom of Moses to not just make a decision, or to just do what was always done, he took it to the Lord.
6 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 7 “The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father’s brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them. 8 And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. 9 If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers.
So then the law of inheritance is given. If there is no son then it goes to the daughters, no sons, no daughters, it goes to his brothers, no brothers, then to his uncles, if no uncles, then the next of kin, whoever that might be....then God tells Moses He wants him to climb a mountain to show him something…verse 12
12 Now the Lord said to Moses: “Go up into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel. 13 And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered. 14 For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to hallow Me at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.)
Moses, I want you to see the promised land, but you can’t go in, and here’s why, you rebelled against me and you misrepresented me…verse 15
15 Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: 16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” 18 And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;
Vs. 16. Interesting passage this is actually where the Mormons get part of their errant theology concerning the eternal spirit of man, not the idea that we are born and then go on in eternity after death on this earth to either an eternal heaven or hell, but that you, like God, always were, that you existed or at least your spirit did up in heaven before God gave you a body, to see if you could someday also become a little god…I don’t get it, but they pull that out of there...
Vs. 17 sheep without a Shepard…I AM the Good Shepard…verse 19
19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.”
the Urim was a little thing that the priest wore, a little pouch of some kind, that they sought counsel from God through the use of the Urim and the Thummim. Lights and perfections, white and black stones.. So Moses obeys verse 22
22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23 And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.
And now Joshua begins to take the place of Moses in leading the people...
In chapter 28, God tells Moses about the sacrifices, reminding him that they are a sweet aroma to God, that please Him, so He wants them done carefully, in their appointed time, and in their appointed way. So He gives the types of animals, the type of drink offerings and meal offerings that were to be offered daily some annually , and others on special occasions, but in God’s way and in His timing. Those of you that are reading chronologically through the Bible with us will get saturated with this in Leviticus, so you can get the details there.
Chapter 29 continues on with the sacrifices. 28 dealt with the daily, the annual, and the special occasions. 29 deals specifically with those offerings and sacrifices that were to be offered under the law during the seventh month. They included the offerings at the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism as it deals with atonement and repentance.
We could spend a whole service just talking about these three sacrifices, but what is interesting to me about the Day of Atonement wasn’t a celebration, it was a day to consider the weight of sin. Normally, the high priest would have help sacrificing all of the animals, especially on these special days that required extras, but not on the Day of Atonement, on that day the High Priest had to offer all of the sacrifices himself. See he was serving as the mediator between God and man, making atonement for their sin, but on the 7th month of the next year, he would have to do it all again, because it did not cleanse, it only covered. But it was a picture or a foreshadow to Jesus our Great High Priest. And that High Priest in the Old Testament, not having any help in making atonement for the people was also a foreshadow, of Jesus paying the price of our sacrifice alone. Only Jesus was without sin. That high priest had to first offer sacrifice for his sin, before he could atone for the people. Check out verse 39…
39 ‘These you shall present to the Lord at your appointed feasts (besides your vowed offerings and your freewill offerings) as your burnt offerings and your grain offerings, as your drink offerings and your peace offerings.’ ” 40 So Moses told the children of Israel everything, just as the Lord commanded Moses.
So the peace offerings, these burnt offerings, and grain offerings where all in addition to all the others ordered in chapter 29, I am so glad that when we go through the what does it say, what does it mean, and then how does it apply to me today as part of the church, there is very little application, because Jesus is the fulfillment of it all and is the perfect propitiation, or perfect substitutionary sacrifice for me. It is finished in our great High Priest Jesus!
Chapter 30 reminds me of a verse in Ecclesiastes that we finished not to long ago. Ecc5:5
5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
Don’t say it, if you’re not going to do it! Chapter 30 gives us the law of the vow…Vow’s are voluntary, you’re not forced to make vows, they are a choice. Maybe you remember a time in your life where you made a vow to God. God, if you get me out of this one, I’ll do this, or I’ll do that. When we get married in a Christian ceremony, you are making a vow, entering into a covenant with God, not just to your spouse, but to God. When we dedicate our children to the Lord, we are voluntarily making a vow before the Lord that we are going to raise them, and train them up in the ways of the Lord. We don’t have to make them, but if we chose to, we better keep them…Chapter 30 vs 2
2 If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 “Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will release her, because her father overruled her.
So this speaks to a covering that the man is to have over a women in the home in these old testament times. IF a man made a vow he was bound to it, if his daughter made a vow and he hears it and doesn’t overrule it, then he confirms it and she is bound. If she marries and is no longer under the covering of her father, this responsibility falls to her husband. If she makes a vow, and commits to doing something or giving away something like all their kids, or a piece of their land, he can disallow it, if he doesn’t that vow stands, or if she kills him....no if you read on it says if a widow or a divorced woman makes a vow, she is bound to it.
There are a number of examples in the Old Testament of men making vows that they didn’t need to, that cost them dearly. Saul made more than one. Jephthah (Jeff tha) was another one in the book of Judges. DO you guys remember Jephthah? This is why its good to read through the Word, you guys will get to all of these stories. Judges chapter 11 vs. 30
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
The Lord gave him victory and upon his return, the first to see him coming was his loving daughter that ran out to meet him…verse 34
34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”
Stupid, he didn’t have to make the vow! So, most of the time you’re better off not making a vow, always better off if you have not intent to keep it, but check out what kind of girl his daughter was and her heart for the Lord...
36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.”
Chapter 31 brings us to the end of the Midianites, they were the ones that Balak had sent in, well their women, to connect with the Israelites to draw them away from their God back in Peor. Balaam in his greed, tipped off the king that he should do that. So this is supposed to be like the last great hurrah of Moses…verse 2 God says to Moses...
2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”
Or go kick butt, then you’re going to die because the rest of these guys are about to enter into the promised land. Moses commands the men to arm themselves, to gather up 1, 000 men from each of the tribes, so 12, 000 men, and they take with them Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the holy articles and the signal trumpets in his hand and verse 7
7 And they warred against the Midianites, just as the Lord commanded Moses, and they killed all the males. 8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword.
So Balaam’s prayer to die the death of the righteous back in chapter 23 goes unanswered because his greed caused him to allow a curse against Israel, and God is now seeking justice against the Midianites and Balaam for his part in their sin. Verse 9
9 And the children of Israel took the women of Midian captive, with their little ones, and took as spoil all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 They also burned with fire all the cities where they dwelt, and all their forts. 11 And they took all the spoil and all the booty—of man and beast. 12 Then they brought the captives, the booty, and the spoil to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the camp in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho.
All the leaders go out to meet them and Moses is fuming mad…verse 14
14 But Moses was angry with the officers of the army, with the captains over thousands and captains over hundreds, who had come from the battle. 15 And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? 16 Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
So Moses gives further instruction...
17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. 18 But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.
You can let the young girls and all the virgins live, because they were innocent of this sin against Israel, bring a curse upon them. Now having been to war, they needed to be clean and had to stay out of the camp for 7 days, anyone who had killed or had touched a dead body was to remain out of the camp and purify themselves on the 3rd and the 7th day. From the spoils of war, anything that could sustain it like silver, gold, bronze, was to be purified by fire, all other items were to be washed with water, and then they were to divide it all up.
They were to take all that they had gained and divide it in two. Half of the spoils of war was to go to all of the people of Israel and the other halve was to go to the 12,000 men that went and actually fought the battle. But from that amount that went to the 12,000, one in 500 was to go to Eleazar the priest, which actually made him a very rich man, and from the portion that went to all of Israel, the portion that would go to one of every 50 of the people would go to the Levites to keep charge of the tabernacle of the Lord.
The portions of the cattle, and the sheep, and all of the goods are numbered there in chapter 31, which the numbers that went to the people, soldiers, and to the Lord all listed out for each item.
Part of their instruction in the was also to do a head count upon their return from war.
So they do a head count and discovered in all of the battle and in seizing all of the plunder, that had not lost a single man! They were blessed by this and knew that it was not on account of them. It was not by their skill, or by the hand of man that they had not suffered a single loss, it was by the hand of God. So, verse 50
50 Therefore we have brought an offering for the Lord, what every man found of ornaments of gold: armlets and bracelets and signet rings and earrings and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.” 51 So Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from them, all the fashioned ornaments. 52 And all the gold of the offering that they offered to the Lord, from the captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.
53 (The men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.) 54 And Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of meeting as a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord.
So join us next week for the conclusion and we will see if Joshua and Caleb and the men of this generation finally make it into the promised land.