God tells Moses to mount an assault on Midian for all the damage done to Israel at their hands. This is to be Moses’ last task.
The last time we were together we completed the refresher course God gave the new generation of Israel’s adults. First He cleansed them of their sin with Midian, then He reminded them of the covenant requirements.
We are not told how long Israel occupied the territory taken from the Amorites. All the time living in one place next to ungodly neighbors had a tremendous impact on the people’s attitude toward God. We saw how they began to be led astray by a pretty face and the promise of a little pleasure. This cost them dearly! It also cleanse their ranks of the last of the original generation that God refused to allow into HIS promises. Satan, sin, and complacency were driven out.
Now God wants Midian to pay for the sin they brought into Israel’s camp. I want to stop here and confess a thought that has been running through me while thinking about the payback Midian was about to receive. My mind says “It takes two to tango” and Midian isn’t the only guilty one in this event. But then the Spirit reminded me that Israel had already received its punishment for its part. God sent them a plague that killed around 24,000 people. He punished His children for their part in this mess. Now it was time to deal with the other half of the problem; the world’s children.
I don’t know about you but I have had times when my children were involved in something they shouldn’t have been and it often involved in. Often that involvement included another child. My authority stopped at my child. No matter how much or little my child contributed to the events, I could only deal with his/her actions. Sometimes those actions included forbidding my child from associating with the other. I couldn’t mete out punishment no matter how much it was earned, to another person’s child. God wasn’t constrained by my limits!
“Payback”, or as I like to call it, balancing the scales of justice. Midian will now pay for its part in this sin.
God doesn’t want ALL the men from Israel taking up this cause. He wants 12,000 men engaged in this battle. God also sent along His high priest and the furniture from His home. This is the first time the Ark of the Covenant has gone into battle with Israel. To me this says that God is making a point of providing Israel with positive proof that this battle is not won by their superior numbers or supremacy but by His hand. He marshalled the troops and led the way with His presence.
When the men of Israel return they brought back “spoils of war” in the form of people, articles of property and livestock. One of the worst things they brought back, by MY count, were the foreign gods. Didn’t God just get rid of these from among the people? They should have known better than to bring them right back into the camp, even as souvenirs of battle. God was also angry that they brought back the women. The very same two pronged trap that they fell into the first time.
He decreed a strong response to this issue. The men of the land were already dead from the battle. God also decreed that ALL male children also be put to death and ANY female who had EVER had sexual relations. The only inhabitants left alive from the people of Midian were their maidens; young girls. Those girls would become the property of the victors and the congregation.
I had to look up the reason Balaam was killed per God’s order. The only story I remembered from him involved him blessing Israel when the kings of Moab wanted him to curse them. But I learned that Balaam showed Balak another way to beat Israel. It was on Balaam’s advice that the daughters of Midian enticed Israel’s men into idolatry. He taught Moab how to make Israel create its own downfall. He paid for his advice with his life. Those following his advice paid that same price.
I find it interesting that the plunder was shared among the congregation. Was this because God had limited the number who would go to war? Those who were left behind, by His command, had no ability to receive from the spoils normally. God made sure all received something in compensation regardless if they were picked for battle or held the home front secure. There was MORE than enough to share!
Did you notice that God’s contribution from the congregation was ten times what it was from those who went into battle? From the half kept by the 12,000 men who battled, 1 out of every 500 was to be given back to the Lord. From the congregation’s half 1 out of every 50 was to be devoted to the Lord. This included people, oxen, donkeys and flocks. Because I’m me, I did the math to see who got what. The Levites individually got the smallest share. Those who actually fought the battle walked away with the biggest portion as it probably should be.
Now comes the part I referenced regarding an email I received during this Corona virus crisis. This part is a MAJOR miracle. The same kind of miracle I’m praying for in my family and yours. “Your servants have counted the men of war who are under our command, and there is not a man missing from us” (verse 49). And their response to this miracle was VERY appropriate. They brought God an enormous offering as a thank You and also as atonement for their sins. The sanctuary coffers gained 16,750 shekels worth of “gold and crafted articles” (verse 53b).
So my prayer today is that not only do I get to give the same report as the commanders did but that I will be as generous with my thanks to God for His hand in my family’s lives during this crisis. I can demonstrate my thanks before the battle is even over. I can give my “offerings” to those around me who I see in need. God has blessed me with a stable paycheck that has not been impacted by the shutdown. I willingly share it with my family in need. I also give Him my talents in making masks for those I love. I have the resources coming to allow me to reach even farther if He calls for it. If HE does I will be taking another break to fill those needs.
My prayer is also that I don’t allow back into my life the very things He excised from it earlier! Israel would have stumbled right back into the pit if not checked at the gate. We need that lesson too! These circumstances have changed us all in some way. Most of us have seen positive changes. I have seen enormous acts of generosity. People have stepped up across the nation to applaud those on the “front lines” and provided for their needs as best as they can. This selfless attitude needs to remain even when the dust finally settles. “May we learn to love each other more with each new day. May words of love be on our lips in everything we say. May the Spirit melt our hearts and teach us how to pray that we might be a TRUE family” (Psalty Welcome to the Family).
Father God, thank You for my family. Those by blood and those in spirit. Help me serve them with love as YOU hands and feet. Show me where to lend a hand. Also keep the very sins that plagued my life before from returning again. Purify me as the men purified themselves outside the camp after their return. Thank You for blessing my time behind the sewing machine this last week. I am amazed at the numbers YOU allowed me to turn out each day! Thank You for keeping my machine running smoothly too.