1620.) Numbers 25

Stele depicting Baal (The Louvre)

Stele depicting Baal, found in the ruins at Ras Shamra, northern Syria (The Louvre)

Numbers 25   (CEV)

The Israelites Worship Baal

1While the Israelites were camped at Acacia, some of the men had sex with Moabite women. 2These women then invited the men to ceremonies where sacrifices were offered to their gods. The men ate the meat from the sacrifices and worshiped the Moabite gods.

25. -thumbs-down

Thanks for nothing, Balaam!

Of all things, it turns out that this double sin of idolatry and sexual immorality was Balaam’s idea!   Somehow or another, he had to earn that money!

Revelation 2:14 (NIV)

You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

2 Peter 2:15 (NIV)

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.

Balaam, through his wicked counsel to Balak, got what he wanted — but he also ended up dead among the enemies of God (Numbers 31:7-8). He enjoyed his money for only a short time.

3The LORD was angry with Israel because they had worshiped the god Baal Peor. 4So he said to Moses, ” Take the Israelite leaders who are responsible for this and have them killed in front of my sacred tent where everyone can see. Maybe then I will stop being angry with the Israelites.”

5Moses told Israel’s officials,  ” Each of you must put to death any of your men who worshiped Baal.”

6Later, Moses and the people were at the sacred tent, crying, when one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite  woman to meet his family. 7Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron  the priest, saw the couple and left the crowd. He found a spear 8and followed the man into his tent, where he ran the spear through the man and into the woman’s stomach.

Phinehas was one among those in Israel who would not accept this blatant rebellion against God.

25. impalement

“Impalement by Phinehas” woodcut by Johann Christoph Weigel 1695 (Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta)

Leviticus 20:10 (ESV)

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

When temptation comes alluring
Make me patient and enduring.

The LORD immediately stopped punishing Israel with a deadly disease, 9but twenty-four thousand Israelites had already died.

10The LORD said to Moses, 11” In my anger, I would have wiped out the Israelites if Phinehas had not been faithful to me. 12-13But instead of punishing them, I forgave them. So because of the loyalty that Phinehas showed, I solemnly promise that he and his descendants will always be my priests.”

Psalm 106:28-31 (NIV)

They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;

they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.

But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was checked.

This was credited to him as righteousness
for endless generations to come.

14The Israelite man that was killed was Zimri son of Salu, who was one of the leaders of the Simeon tribe. 15And the Midianite woman killed with him was Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite clan leader named Zur.

16The LORD told Moses, 17-18” The Midianites are now enemies of Israel, so attack and defeat them! They tricked the people of Israel into worshiping their god at Peor, and they are responsible for the death of Cozbi, the daughter of one of their own leaders.”

Now there is zero tolerance for the Midianites.

_________________________

Music:

These last few chapters have been clear pictures of temptations which overcame the hearts of people who thought they were too smart, or entitled, or free . . .  Where, Lord, am I justifying my sin?  What in my heart needs to be acknowledged, repented of, confessed, and forgiven?  I want to be righteous in your sight, God, thanks to the sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross.  HERE  is Sojourn and “Approach, my soul, the mercy seat.”

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Baal.    http://www.louvre.fr/sites/default/files/imagecache/940×768/medias/medias_images/images/louvre-stele-quotbaal-foudrequot_0.jpg
thumbs down.   http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/biy/LXr/biyLXr4iL.jpeg
Weigel.  http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1695Bibl/00005934.jpg
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