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Numbers 31-33


A Devotional Journey
   ed by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year   
         This section begins with God’s judgment on the Midianites for their part in the earlier seduction of Israel away from God and into immorality (chapters 22-24). It also addresses the Midianites’ perpetual disdain for God and His ways. The issue is God’s honor, not some human wish for vengeance:  those who would take, destroy or misuse what is His must be punished. This is done in a dramatic and decisive way by Moses and the Israelite soldiers.
         The destruction of Midian is almost total:  every man and boy is killed (including Balaam, who, while evidently impressed by God’s power, had not actually placed his faith in Him) as is every woman who has slept with a man; only the virgin women were allowed to live, as slaves. In addition, all towns are burned, but plunder is allowed if first purified. The issue is purity:  the men have become enmeshed in evil and so has every woman closely associated with them; there is a cultural and social wickedness ingrained in every son by his father which must be erased and eradicated forever.
         This is the nature of God’s judgment:  it is not temporary or partial. The religious nature of this campaign is seen in the need for the ritual purification of anyone who has even touched something which was part of the Midianite culture.
         Most of the spoils are divided among the soldiers and tribes; however, even here a portion is reserved for God in recognition that everything belongs to and comes from Him.
         Two of the tribes ask for permission to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River because of the suitability of its land for livestock. This request is agreed to, but only in the context of their responsibility as part of the larger community: they may settle on the eastern side, but they must remain united with the rest of the Israelites in their conquest of the West.
         At this point in the narrative, a recap of all that has led to this final approach to the Promised Land is provided – a kind of reminder of all it has taken to get this far and why it is important to finish the job.
         God’s regard for the Church of Jesus Christ is no less real than His regard for Israel, and if His punishment of those who would attempt to take control of, destroy or misuse the Church is no less predictable. All that we have belongs to and comes from God, and it’s always a helpful exercise for us to reexamine all that He’s done to protect and preserve us as He leads towards the fulfillment of His plan for our lives.
         Have you given yourself completely to God’s direction and control?  Are you placing your trust in Him each day?  Do you shield your mind and heart from those things which are in opposition to His will?  What do you need to change in order to put yourself right with God?  Who do you need to pray for and/or perhaps even witness to regarding the need to turn away from present patterns and habits and put her/his trust in God?
© A. Eugene Pearson 2011