Today's passage: Numbers 31
- The Midianite people were nomadic and lived in different areas surrounding Canaan. The Midianite people Israel would war with in this passage were those associate with the region of Moab.
- The people who the Lord and Israel would have vengeance against in this war were those involved in the narratives of Numbers 22-25.
- Balaam the prophet-for-hire was not able to curse Israel through God's sovereign intervention. However, he had learned how to bring cursing on Israel in another way, to drive a wedge in their relationship with their God. It was his idea to send the Midianite women into the camp and to encourage worship of Baal (Verse 16)!
- Persuading Israel to commit idolatry was a capital offense (Deuteronomy 13). The Midianites had been guilty of this sin and crime against the Lord.
- The virgin women among the people would not have been involved in the effort to lure the Israelites away through fornication. God made it clear they were not to be put to death.
- Remember, part of the reason why God gave the command in different cities to put all the people to death was because of His divine judgment against the sin of the people (Genesis 15:13-16). The people of Israel did not have the right to put any people group to death they pleased. This was not an establishment of proper warfare practices for all people in all times. These were specific commands given by the revelation of God for specific people at specific times.
Questions to consider:
- What is the command given to Christians concerning vengeance? What does Romans 12:19-21 reveal to us? How might this present instruction and mindset make it hard for us to understand (or even stomach) what Israel was told to do in these battles?
- How can Balaam's and the Midianites' attempt to hurt Israel through temptation and idolatry be a warning and help to us today? What are the things that can get in between us and the Lord? What idolatries would we be prone to struggle with?
- If God warned Israel concerning the persuasion of the world concerning sin and idolatry, what must be the goal of the church? What and Whom should we encourage one another to pursue? How can you lovingly point a brother or sister in Christ to Him today?