Oh, the carnage!
No matter how many times I’ve witnessed the heavy-handed punishments inflicted on the defiant Israelites, I’ll never get used to the carnage. It’s beyond comprehension to me that they continued to offend the Lord, even knowing what He was capable of.
But I guess that’s what children do. They have fun trying to get away with their mischief. And when they get away with it for so long, they became comfortable in their disrespectful behavior. Sounds familiar, especially in these times.
According to the notes mentioned in my previous post, Balaam (the donkey whisperer) was responsible for the rebellion we read about today. Although, he was not allowed to curse Israel with his words, apparently he was able to advise Balak what to do to entrap them in their own sin. Many of the men fell prey to the seduction of Moabite women, resulting in the acceptance of their gods, as well.
“But I have a few things against you:
you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam,
who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel,
so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols
and practice sexual immorality.”
Moabite women must have had all kinds of tricks up their skirts. Women like that have caused the downfall of many men throughout history. Chapter 25 says that 24,000 men lost their lives due to a plague brought on by their misbehavior. If their sins were allowed to spread, the entire group would have been destroyed. Perhaps that’s why God always handled it with such finality.
But what shocked me was the picture I had in my mind of the chiefs hanging in the sun for all to see. God was pretty scary here. He basically told Moses to make an example of them, even for other nations to see. Then Moses told the judges to kill every man who perverted himself with the pagan gods.
It’s still difficult for me to read about such violent and deadly acts at the hands of the loving Father I have come to know all these years. Reading the Old Testament books have opened my eyes to my own small stature in comparison to God. He’s not my genie in a bottle. He’s the Almighty whose will I need to follow, not the other way around.
Here are some other observations I had while reading in Numbers today: 25:6 - Why was it okay for Moses to have a Midianite wife, but the Israelites were told that they could not? Is it because she was actually a Cushite woman who happened to live in Midian?
25:8 - The way they stopped the plague was by the passionate act of one man on behalf of the Lord. Phineas killed a man and his Midianite woman to end the spread of sin. Today, we don't recognize cause and effect in our behavior, so we continue in it regardless of the fact that people are clearly suffering. Just like in the Old Testament, people have experienced tragedy upon tragedy. Morality is on a downward slope which coincides with the downward slope of living by faith. And, no one is making the connection. No turn toward God is happening. In fact, just the opposite is occurring. 26:50 - While I used to just glaze over these lists of foreign names, I now smile. In no work of fiction do we see long lists of names like this. An author would lose his or her audience. This tells me that these books of the Bible are historical records. Many of the names are seen in multiple ancient texts, including within the pages of Scripture. Many of them are verifiable using ancient manuscripts from other cultures that have been preserved throughout the centuries. These books in the Bible are real and true, not fairytales. 27:17 - The sheep have wandered away from their shepherd. They move about aimlessly. Falling over cliffs, one after the other. Their unshorn wool weighs them down. They’re no longer agile on their feet. They suffocate under their own weight. 27:18 - Joshua has the Spirit in him. A leader must have the Spirit of God upon him in order to lead God’s people.
So, those are my observations. What are yours? Feel free to comment below, or by visiting my Facebook page.
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