Thursday March 9, 2023
Numbers 31 & 32 reveals to us Moses carrying out revenge on the Midianites and teaching about the Reubenites and Gadites.
Chapter 31 –
Moses’ last act as leader of the Israelites was to exact judgement on the Midianites. When this was completed Moses’ life would end. Since God was leading the engagement Israel would only need a small contingent to defeat them so He had Moses gather one thousand men from each Israelite tribe to go against the Midianites. War was waged against Midian and every male was killed – that is every soldier. In addition too all that were killed included the kings and Balaam whom we recently met.
When they returned Moses and Eleazar and all the leaders of the community were furious with the leaders who brought with them some of the same women who had incited the Israelites to unfaithfulness. They had lured the men into sexual immorality in worshipping Baal the same reason twenty-four thousand died previously. The decision was to Kill every male among the dependents and kill every woman who had gone to bed with a man. The execution was necessary to purge any influence of the Midianite culture.
Ceremonial cleansing was necessary for the soldiers who were unclean in carrying out their duties. Everything had to be purified by water or fire. Next, they divided what they had taken in the victory. God required a tribute and the remainder was shared. When was said and done one last thing remained – The leaders of the soldiers informed Moses not one of their men had been lost in battle. Another offering was made to the Lord.
Chapter 32 –
While they were still camped on the east side of the Jordan opposite Canaan the tribes of Reuben and Gad looked around and saw that the region was good for livestock which they had many. They asked for that land, maybe not giving any thought to the fact that every other tribe had to battle the Canaanites for the land. Moses’ wise answer was a swift one Should your brothers got o war while you stay here. Did they really prefer this land, were they afraid of battle? Moses then asks another pointed question Why are you discouraging the Israelites from crossing into the land the Lord has given? He wanted them to recognize their decision would affect the rest of the nation.
That same principle applies today to the church. Some people who claim to follow Christ insist that their similar actions – whether they are choosing to worship at home each Sunday when just as easily could be in church and serve there. Sinful choices do affect those around us.
They change their tactics and agree to lead the battle. It appears they had not thought through all the implications when they initially spoke. They received permission to build pens for their livestock with a warning from Moses if they did not follow through, they would be sinning against God. They did, they received their inheritance and they remained there.