Numbers 25

Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 29, 1998

Introduction

The Moabites have had a scary thing happen. One day they woke up to find two million immigrants camped on their doorstep. It seemed to be a nation tied into the supernatural, which had seas part before them, and who had demonstrated great power by wiping out the Amorite kings Sihon and Og.

King Balak has called for some spiritual reinforcements. But all Balaam was able to do was pronounce Godís blessings on Israel.

The last chapter ended with Balaam supposedly going back to his people, yet we know that he didn't stay at home for long. Instead, he made his way back to the Midianites, and gave them some advice about how to hurt Israel. The following chapter is a result of that advice.

Numbers 25

:1-5 The initial adultery

:1 Israel abode in Shittim

This is the final stop before entering into the Promised Land.

:1 the people began to commit whoredom

Much of the worship of the various pagan gods involved the use of sex.

In Corinth, there was a famous temple to the goddess Aphrodite on top of the hill above the city. Aphrodite, the goddess of love (called Venus by the Romans), had 1000 priestesses who would come down into the city every night and help the men worship Aphrodite. They were prostitutes.

The Moabites gods were no different.

Actually, the people were committing "harlotry" in two ways.

1) Physically, they were committing immorality. They were using these temple prostitutes.

2) Spiritually, as they committed immorality, they were submitting themselves to the Moabite gods. They were committing spiritual adultery by cheating on God.

Note: The nation has had a pretty good time recently.

They have just wiped out Sihon and Og, and taken their kingdoms.

When Balaam had tried to put a curse on them, he was unable, because the people were walking in holiness (Num.23:9) and in God's favor.

And now they fall into a horrible sin.

Lesson:

Be cautious after victories.

1CO 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

:3 Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor

The word "Baal" means "master, possessor, or husband". But "Baal" is also a proper name of a specific god, specifically Hadad, the western Semitic "storm-god".

He was considered one of the most important gods of the Canaanites.

Different locations would have a slightly different form of this god, and attach their name to it, hence this god was worshipped at Peor, and called "Baal of Peor".

:4 Take all the heads of the people,

All the leaders.

:4 hang them up before the LORD

or, "execute them".

:4 against the sun,

or, "in broad daylight"

In other words, the punishment was to be public. Everybody was supposed to see the result of the sin.

In talking about disciplining backslidden elders, Paul says,

1TI 5:20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful {of sinning.}

:6-9 Zimri's adultery

:6 in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation

This is sure bold! It even sounds kind of stupid to me. I would probably try and go as far from Moses as possible.

Lesson:

When you're hooked by sin, you don't care anymore.

:8 So the plague was stayed

Two things here Ė

1) The sin had brought a plague.

Sin brings horrible consequences.

It may start out as so called "harmless flirtation" with someone, but if you let it run its course, you end up devastating your spouse, ruining their lives, alienating yourself from your most of your friends, ruining the lives of your kids, not to mention possible venereal disease, pregnancies, etc.

Is that so harmless?

2) Death brought an end to the plague.

It wasn't until the sinners died that the sin stopped.

We must learn to die to sin.

(Rom 6:11 KJV) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You have to learn to do what you must do to die to the sin.

If it means quitting work and finding another job, what is better, having a job, or having a family and a life?

If it means dying with humiliation by confessing your sin to someone to ask them to help you, then you do it.

Note: I find it interesting that Phinehas pierced them through "the belly".

In scripture, the "belly" is seen as the seat of the emotions. Your feelings supposedly come out of the deepest parts of your belly.

When we die to sin, we have to cut off that emotional attachment to whatever it is that is tempting us.

Ask God to change your heart and give you an abhorrence for the things that He abhors.

:9 those who died ... were 24,000

Some say this is a contradiction in the Bible.

(1 Cor 10:8 KJV) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Which is correct? Is there an error in the Bible?

At the height of the plague, 23,000 people died in one day. But the total number of people who died was 24,000.

:10-13 Phinehas' reward

:11 Phinehas

Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron.

Is Phinehas really somebody we want to be like?

Isn't it a little like becoming a "busy-body", getting involved in other peoples' business?

If the church was burning down, would it be too "busy-bodyish" to tell everybody to get out before the building burns down?

If the wages of sin is death, which is more loving, to disturb a person and warn them of the fire up ahead, or to not bother them and let them go merrily on their way to hell.

Keep in mind, this was a sin that happened in the sight of all the people. Phinehas wasnít snooping on somebody in private, he was responding to what was in front of him.

We need to confront sin, but maybe not quite in Phinehas' fashion, at least not at first.

(2 Tim 2:24-26 KJV) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, {25} In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; {26} And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

(Mat 18:15-17 KJV) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. {16} But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. {17} And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.

It's not until a person refuses to repent after repeated attempts at confrontation that you start polishing up the old spear.

:11 my wrath

Some people have problems with understanding how a God of love could also be a God of "wrath". "If God is so loving, then why does He send people to hell?"

The problem is that we arenít taking into consideration Godís justice.

God is not only a God of love, but one of justice too.

There was an article in the paper about a man who killed a little boy, then cut him up into pieces.

Is it okay that this man pay for his crime? Or do we let him go because weíre a society of "love"?

Everybody must pay for their sins.

Nobody gets away with anything with God.

You can either pay the price yourself, or let someone else. Jesus.

:11 hath turned my wrath away

It looks like they're past all the consequences from this episode of sin, doesn't it?

Some eight years later, after they had finished conquering most of the land, they had a misunderstanding with some of the tribes about a certain altar. Look what they say at that time:

(Josh 22:17-18 KJV) Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, {18} But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.

Lesson:

Sin has lingering consequences.

Part of the deceit of the enemy is to make us think, "Sure, there's going to be consequences for sin, but once you pay the consequences, you can go on and enjoy life."

Wrong. Sin's consequences can go on for years and years and years. It's not that God is punishing you, but you are just still paying the natural consequences.

Committing sin could be compared to hammering a nail into a piece of wood. When you confess your sin, God removes the nail. But the wood doesn't look as it did before you sinned. There's still a hole in it.

Itís better to NOT sin.

:14-15 Sinners named

:14 the name ... was

How would you like to go through all time and eternity with your name recorded in Scripture, as the man who sinned at Peor?

:16-18 Midianite consequence

:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them

Lesson:

You donít need to be polite to those tempting you to sin.

Jesus, when tempted by Satan.

MAT 4:10 Then Jesus *said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, '\You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.\'"

Peter, when asked to sell the Holy Spirit to Simon.

ACT 8:20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

If you have a close friend or relative who is trying to lead you into sin with them, I think you should tell them the score and get away from them.