TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 25-27
Israel’s sin of fornication; God’s judgment in the plague of death; the plague halted because of the zeal of Phinehas; the second numbering (census) of Israel; the law of inheritance; Moses views the Promised Land; Moses installs Joshua as Israel’s leader.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we saw in yesterday’s reading, Balak was bound and determined to get Balaam to curse Israel. Because Balaam wanted the money and honor that Balak promised him for doing so, he tried to curse them repeatedly, but God would only allow him to speak blessing.
Since Balaam couldn’t curse them, he suggests a way to put the Children of Israel in a situation where God Himself would curse them. God outlines Balaam’s simple plan in His commentary on Numbers 25:1-8 found in Revelation 2:14 that He calls “the doctrine of Balaam.”
1. He taught Balak how to cause the Children of Israel “to
eat things sacrificed to idols.”
2. He taught Balak how to cause the Children of Israel “to
Though Balaam wasn’t successful in getting God to turn away from Israel, he was successful in getting Israel to turn away from God. He wickedly suggests to Balak, king of Moab, that the Moabite women make friends with the men of Israel. (Keep James 4:4 in mind – “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”) The “friendliness” of the Moabite women quickly led the Israelite men “as an ox goeth to the slaughter” (Prov. 7:22), right into sexual immorality and idol worship. Israel’s disobedience resulted in a plague of death that swept through the camp of Israel, and when it was all said and done, 24,000 people were killed (25:9)!
The hero of this whole tragedy was Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. One Israelite was as so bold in his sin and lust, he actually brought one of the Midianite women into Israel’s camp to have a physical relationship with her right in Moses’ face. Phinehas came into the tent and thrust both of them through with a javelin while in the very act. God honors the zeal of Phinehas by turning away the plague of death before any others were killed, and by giving him a covenant of peace and everlasting priesthood. Phinehas gives new meaning to “Blessed are the peacemakers” !
In chapter 26, God calls for the second numbering, or census, of the people in the Book of Numbers. At this point, all of the 603,550 men included in the first census are dead, except Joshua, Caleb, and Moses (and at this point, he wasn’t long for this world either!). The total of the second census was 601,730 . . . 1820 fewer than the first census taken some 38 years previous. Catch the pitifulness of Numbers 26:63-65.
Another significant event was to take place before Israel was to enter the Promised Land. God wanted Moses to do two things:
1. To go up to Mount Abarim so that he could view the land
he had been forbidden to enter (27:12-14). (Imagine what
must have been going through Moses’ heart at that moment!)
2. To install Joshua as the new leader (26:15-23).
Chapter 27 ends with Moses blessing Joshua, and laying his hands upon him, symbolically transferring his leadership which God had entrusted to him.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
In JOSHUA, who would lead people likened to sheep which have no shepherd – Num. 27:17 (Mark 6:34; I Pet. 2:25)