God promises Eleazar a covenant of peace for his actions. At the same time He instructs Moses to take revenge on Midian for their part in the sin of worshiping other gods.
We last left Israel with Eleazar plunging a spear through a haughty Israelite and his Midianite bride. They flaunted their sin while the people were still at the gates of the Tabernacle repenting for that same sin. Death was ravaging Israel for this sin when Zimri, from the tribe of Simeon, and Cozbi, from the Midianites breezed through on their way to enjoy themselves in Zimri’s tent. Eleazar put an immediate stop to their actions.
God commended Eleazar for his zeal for God’s laws. Eleazar’s actions also halted God’s anger with the people. Zimri and Cozbi were the last to die for this sin. They weren’t anywhere near the first. Twenty four thousand died as a consequence for bowing down to other gods. But now God’s anger is spent.
Eleazar received a special gift from God. “Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood” (verses 12b-13a). This was a reconfirmation of the first covenant God had made with the house of Levi. This one was specific to Eleazar’s future line. We have already witnessed some of the families from the tribe of Levi perishing for disobedience. Now one is being rewarded for his dedication to the Lord.
God also calls for Moses to strike back against Midian for their part in this sin. I don’t know if it was the intent of Midian’s heart to weaken Israel by dividing it or not but it sure worked. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was their tactic since calling for Balaam to curse them didn’t pan out. Cozbi was the daughter of the chief of Midian so she could easily have been used as a “weapon” against the people of Israel. That “weapon” was no more and God was calling for retaliation for their actions.
I’m NOT excusing Israel for their part in this fiasco because it takes two to tango. I’m curious as to how this all started in the first place. Did men from Israel go to Midian or did the women come to them? Did they meet innocently or was there a plan behind it all? Whatever and however this intermingling came about, God was putting a stop to it in a way that wouldn’t be quickly forgotten; HOPEFULLY.
Israel seems to have a VERY short memory and attention span. I don’t know how far into their 40 years this event happened but one would think that the mere fact that they weren’t allowed into the Promised Land because of their sin would stick with them and encourage all the people to teach their children well so they would be ready when God called on them. Instead they appear to have slipped into a self-absorbed state instead. This attitude cost them dearly again. Why did they never learn? Will we ever really learn? I PRAY so!
Father God, thank You for all the chances You have given me over my lifetime. I have earned none of them! I look at all the chances Israel received and wonder why they took them for granted. I have NO IDEA how their children turned around with the examples being set by their parents. That was a miracle in itself!
I wonder how I would have behaved in their shoes. I pray that I would have been a Caleb or Joshua. Trusting You with all my heart, no matter what the circumstances. That is what I strive for in my life now but I can’t say I always succeed. Thank You that I have more trust times than doubt times now. I guess I could say I have grown in my faith too. Thank You for all the “proving opportunities” that You have brought into my life. Because of them I KNOW Your faithfulness. Keep me walking and trusting in You.