Numbers 31 (CEV)
Israel’s War against Midian
1The LORD said to Moses, 2” Before you die, make sure that the Midianites are punished for what they did to Israel.” 3Then Moses told the people, ” The LORD wants to punish the Midianites. So have our men prepare for battle. 4Each tribe will send a thousand men to fight.”
We are generally uncomfortable with the idea of vengeance because it doesn’t seem consistent with God’s love. Yet, in the right context, vengeance is something good that God is interested in. The Scriptures repeatedly speak of the vengeance of God as a positive thing. Evil comes when we take vengeance into our own hands.
5Twelve thousand men were picked from the tribes of Israel, and after they were prepared for battle, 6Moses sent them off to war. Phinehas the son of Eleazar went with them and took along some things from the sacred tent and the trumpets for sounding the battle signal. 7The Israelites fought against the Midianites, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. They killed all the men, 8including Balaam son of Beor
and the five Midianite kings, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. 9The Israelites captured every woman and child, then led away the Midianites’ cattle and sheep, and took everything else that belonged to them. 10They also burned down the Midianite towns and villages.
11Israel’s soldiers gathered together everything they had taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. 12-13Then they returned to their own camp in the hills of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, where Moses, Eleazar, and the other Israelite leaders met the troops outside camp.
14Moses became angry with the army commanders 15and said, ” I can’t believe you let the women live! 16They are the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and invited our people to worship the god Baal Peor. That’s why the LORD punished us by killing so many of our people. 17You must put to death every boy and all the women who have ever had sex. 18But do not kill the young women who have never had sex. You may keep them for yourselves.”
19Then Moses said to the soldiers, ” If you killed anyone or touched a dead body, you are unclean and have to stay outside the camp for seven days. On the third and seventh days, you must go through a ceremony to make yourselves and your captives clean. 20Then wash your clothes and anything made from animal skin, goat’s hair, or wood.”
21-23Eleazar then explained, ” If you need to purify something that won’t burn, such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead, you must first place it in a hot fire.
1 Corinthians 3:10-14 (NLT)
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.
After you take it out, sprinkle it with the water that purifies. Everything else should only be sprinkled with the water. Do all of this, just as the LORD commanded Moses. 24Wash your clothes on the seventh day, and after that, you will be clean and may return to the camp.”
God uses the same means to purify believers today — the fire of trials and the water of washing.
When God uses the fire of purification, we can say with Job: When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10). The fire purifies precious metal by causing the impurities (the dross) to rise to the top, where the refiner can skim them away. The refiner can tell when the gold is pure, because he can then see his reflection in the pool of gold.
When God wants to wash us clean, He not only uses the waters of baptism, but also the ministry of the Word as described in Ephesians 5:26: That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.
Everything Taken from the Midianites Is Divided
25The LORD told Moses:
26-27Make a list of everything taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. Then divide them between the soldiers and the rest of the people. Eleazar the priest and the family leaders will help you.
28-29From the half that belongs to the soldiers, set aside for the LORD one out of every five hundred people or animals and give these to Eleazar.
30From the half that belongs to the people, set aside one out of every fifty and give these to the Levites in charge of the sacred tent.
31Moses and Eleazar followed the LORD’s instructions 32-35and listed everything that had been taken from the Midianites. The list included 675,000 sheep and goats, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 young women who had never had sex.
36-47Each half included 337,500 sheep and goats, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 young women. From the half that belonged to the soldiers, Moses counted out 675 sheep and goats, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 women and gave them to Eleazar to be dedicated to the LORD. Then from the half that belonged to the people, Moses set aside one out of every fifty animals and women, as the LORD had said, and gave them to the Levites.
48The army commanders went to Moses 49and said, ” Sir, we have counted our troops, and not one soldier is missing. 50So we want to give the LORD all the gold jewelry we took from the Midianites. It’s our gift to him for watching over us and our troops.”
51Moses and Eleazar accepted the jewelry from the commanders, 52and its total weight was over four hundred pounds. 53This did not include the things that the soldiers had kept for themselves. 54So Moses and Eleazar placed the gold in the LORD’s sacred tent to remind Israel of what had happened.
God wanted the Israelites to have the hearts of givers.
God wants our offerings, yes, but more than that, he wants us — our hearts, souls, mind, and strength. HERE is Vineyard Music singing “Take My Life.”
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society