Evening Bible Study
The Moabites have had a scary thing happen. One day they woke up to find two million illegal
immigrants camped on their doorstep. These people seemed to be tied into the
had seas part before them. They had shown
some pretty hefty fighting
skills when they wiped out the Amorite kings Sihon and Og.
King Balak has
called for some spiritual reinforcements. But all Balaam was able to do was
pronounce God’s blessings on Israel.
When the last chapter ended, it seemed like Balaam was going to be going
back home. Whether or not he made it, we don’t know. But at some point he will
make it back to the land of Moab and Midian where he will come up with some new
advice on how to hurt Israel. The following chapter is a result of that advice.
:1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit
harlotry with the women of Moab.
:1 Acacia Grove
– The King James says “Shittim”, which is Hebrew for the acacia tree.
They have been camped
out in the “Plains of Moab” (show map video)
The acacia tree
grows throughout this area, a desert area. See pictures.
:1 commit harlotry
Much of the worship of the various pagan gods involved the use of sex.
there was a famous temple to the goddess Aphrodite on top of the hill above the
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
The Moabites gods were no different.
Actually, the people were committing “harlotry” in two ways.
1) Physically, they were committing
immorality. They were having sex with these temple prostitutes. They were
having sex with women who they were not married to.
(1 Co 6:18–20 NKJV) —18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is
outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own
body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who
is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at
a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are
As Christians, we have been “bought” by God. He owns our
bodies. We ought to be glorifying God with our body.
2) Spiritually, as they committed immorality,
they were submitting themselves to the Moabite gods. They were committing
spiritual adultery by cheating on God.
This is the lesson that the prophet Hosea learned the hard way. God often
used the prophets not only to speak for Him, but to be living illustrations of
God’s truth. Hosea was told by God to marry a prostitute:
(Ho 1:2 NKJV) When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land
has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord.”
Some of you know what it’s like to be betrayed by someone
who you have given your heart to.
You know the pain that comes from adultery.
So does God.
:2 They invited
the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down
to their gods.
:3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was
aroused against Israel.
:3 Baal of Peor
– “lord of the gap”
The word “Baal” means “master, possessor, or husband”. But “Baal” is also a
proper name of a specific god, specifically Hadad, the western Semitic
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”.
It started with sex with these Moabite women.
Then the Moabite women led the Israelite men to worship their gods.
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.
(1 Co 10:12 NKJV) —12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he
:4 Then the
LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders
before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn
away from Israel.”
All those guilty of worshipping Baal of Peor were to be put to death.
:4 out in the sun
The punishment was to be public. Everybody was supposed to see the result
of the sin.
In talking about disciplining backslidden elders, Paul says,
(1 Ti 5:20 NKJV) Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that
the rest also may fear.
:5 So Moses
said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to
Baal of Peor.”
:6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren
a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the
congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the
tabernacle of meeting.
– qarab – to come near, approach,
enter into, draw near; to bring near
Talk about being brazen in your sin.
This fellow is hooked on his sin. He doesn’t mind that he’s going to flaunt
his sin even in front of Moses.
:7 Now when
Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from
among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand;
:8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of
them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague
was stopped among the children of Israel.
:8 the plague was
Two things here –
1) Sin 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 ended the plague.
It wasn’t until the sinners died that the sin stopped.
We must learn to die to sin.
NKJV) —11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but
alive to God in Christ Jesus 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.
Sometimes “death” means to simply “stop it”.
Newhart “Stop It” clip.
(Mt 5:29 NKJV) —29 If your right eye
causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable
for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast
I don’t think Jesus is telling us to mutilate our
bodies. But He is making a point – do
whatever you need to in order to “stop it”.
– qobah – stomach, belly
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 a loathing for the things that He loathes.
Ask God to give you a passion and a love for the things that He loves.
Don’t just dig a hole in your life where the bad things used to be.
Fill their place with a love for the things God loves.
God loves your marriage.
God loves your spouse.
God loves your children.
:9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
:9 were twenty-four
Some suggest this is a contradiction in the Bible.
(1 Co 10:8 NKJV) Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in
one day twenty-three thousand fell;
Which is correct? Is there an error in the Bible?
If you pay close attention to the texts, they are a little different.
The passage in
Numbers gives us the total of how many people died in this plague.
The passage in Corinthians tells us how many died “in one day”.
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 Then the
LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
:11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned
back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal
among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.
:12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;
:13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an
everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement
for the children of Israel.’ ”
Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron.
Care enough to confront
Is Phinehas really somebody we want to be like?
Isn’t it a little like becoming a “busy-body”, getting involved in other
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 wasn’t 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 Ti 2:24–26 NKJV) —24 And a
servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to
teach, patient, 25 in
humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will
grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses
and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his
Notice the words “gentle” and “humility”. Two key
ingredients if you are going to confront someone about their sin.
We often want to confront with harshness and pride. Wrong.
The real enemy we need to be concerned with is the devil. The
person is not the enemy.
:11 turned back My
It looks like they’re past all the consequences from this episode of sin,
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:
(Jos 22:17 NKJV) Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not
cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the
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
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.
It’s better to NOT sin.
Especially in relationships, sin is incredibly messy.
People begin to fantasize about another person that they’re not married to
and think, “What is one little slip? Who will know?”.
They tell themselves that if the marriage was over, that after the dust
settles everything will be better.
They tell themselves that the kids would be better off if the parents were
divorced and not arguing all the time.
It isn’t always true.
:14 Now the
name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman,
was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s house among the Simeonites.
:15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the
daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.
– Zimriy – “my music”
He was a leader in the tribe of Simeon (remember that for later).
– Kozbiy – “my lie”
She was the daughter of a leader of the Midianites.
The Midianites were living among the Moabites.
It almost seems
as if they were targeting leaders.
:16 Then the
LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
:17 “Harass the Midianites, and attack them;
:18 for they harassed you with their schemes by which they seduced you in
the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of
Midian, their sister, who was killed in the day of the plague because of Peor.”
– tsarar – cause distress, besiege
Give them grief
You don’t need to be polite to those tempting you to sin.
Moses had a tie with the Midianites. His father-in-law was a priest of
Midian. His wife Zipporah was a Midianite.
Yet God says to “harass” them.
Jesus, when tempted by Satan.
(Mt 4:10 NKJV) Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is
written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
Peter, when asked to sell the Holy Spirit to Simon.
(Ac 8:20 NKJV) But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because
you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
If you have a close friend or relative who is trying to lead you into sin
with them, you have permission to be a bit rude and get away from them.
Numbers 26 Second Census
:1 And it came to pass, after the plague, that the LORD spoke to Moses and
Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying:
:2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from
twenty years old and above, by their fathers’ houses, all who are able to go to
war in Israel.”
:3 So Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by
the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying:
:4 “Take a census of the people from twenty years old and above, just as
the LORD commanded Moses and the children of Israel who came out of the land of
The book of Numbers started with a census. Now forty years later they take
This census takes place right after the events of the last chapter, the
Reason for Census:
One reason for the census had to do with organization. The census was a way to organize
those who were in the army, counting how many warriors there were in each
:5 Reuben was the firstborn of Israel. The children of Reuben were: of
Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites;
:6 of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the
:7 These are the families of the Reubenites: those who were numbered of
them were forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty.
:8 And the son of Pallu was Eliab.
:9 The sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan
and Abiram, representatives of the congregation, who contended against Moses
and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD;
:10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with
Korah when that company died, when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men;
and they became a sign.
:11 Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.
of Korah did not die
Korah was part of the group that had rebelled against Moses (Num. 16). Even
though Korah was from the tribe of Levi, he is mentioned here because his other
co-conspirators were from the tribe of Reuben.
It’s here that we’re told that his sons did not die in the rebellion.
They are going to pop up elsewhere in Scripture:
gatekeepers in the temple. (1Chr. 26:19)
They wrote some
of the most beautiful praise music:
(Ps 42:1–5 NKJV) —1 As the deer pants
for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for
God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears
have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is
your God?” 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I
used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the
voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. 5 Why are
you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God,
for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.
(Also Ps. 44-49; 84; 85, 87, 88)
God’s Grace over the past
There are some today who feel that we are all victims of our past.
If you were abused as a child, then you are going to suffer for the rest of
your life for the abuse you took. You’ll also need to be in therapy for the
rest of your life as well.
If your parents were alcoholics, you’re now an adult child of an alcoholic,
and you might end up being one yourself.
If you were a battered child, you will probably end up being an abusive
parent and pass the sin on down the pipeline.
Please don’t misunderstand me.
Our past does have an effect on us. It does impact us.
We learned a lot from our parents. Sometimes more than we
wish we had learned.
But you don’t have to be held hostage to the sins of your parents. You can
grow forward from them.
(Php 3:13–14 NKJV) —13 Brethren, I do
not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ
:12 The sons of Simeon according to their families were: of Nemuel, the
family of the Nemuelites; of Jamin, the family of the Jaminites; of Jachin, the
family of the Jachinites;
:13 of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites; of Shaul, the family of the
:14 These are the families of the Simeonites: twenty-two thousand two
If you make a
chart of all the tribes and compare the last census to this one, It looks like
The number that sticks out the most to me is the change in the tribe of Simeon.
Over forty years, their numbers dropped more than 37,000.
I wonder if there isn’t a connection with the last chapter.
The fellow that Phinehas killed was a Simeonite.
There were 24,000 people killed with the plague. Could they have been
mostly from Simeon? A distinct possibility.
26:15-51 The rest
of the census
We won’t read the next batch of versus - a lot of names and numbers.
It is the rest of the census … which reminds me of a story…
A famous Viking
explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town
register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official, who apologized profusely
saying, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”
:51 These are those who were numbered of the children of Israel: six
hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty.
with wilderness with 603,550
They leave the
wilderness with 601,730
:52 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
:53 “To these the land shall be divided as an inheritance, according to the
number of names.
:54 To a large tribe you shall give a larger inheritance, and to a small
tribe you shall give a smaller inheritance. Each shall be given its inheritance
according to those who were numbered of them.
:55 But the land shall be divided by lot; they shall inherit according to
the names of the tribes of their fathers.
:56 According to the lot their inheritance shall be divided between the
larger and the smaller.”
Reason for Census:
The size of the tribe
going into the Promised Land will determine the size of the plot of land given
to that tribe.
It makes me wonder about how we do in our difficulties.
The difficult times in life are a little like wandering in the wilderness.
Are we going to “increase” or “decrease”?
Are we going to grow through our difficulties, or are we
going to be consumed?
:62 Now those who were numbered of them were twenty-three thousand, every
male from a month old and above; for they were not numbered among the other
children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the
children of Israel.
All we are given concerning the tribe of Levi is a general number of the
They will not be given a specific plot of land like the other tribes. Instead, they will be given places to live in
the cities throughout the land of Israel.
(Nu 18:20 NKJV) —20 Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance
in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and
your inheritance among the children of Israel.
Ultimately, the Levite had to look to God as his inheritance, as his
:63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who
numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across
:64 But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses
and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the
Wilderness of Sinai.
:65 For the LORD had said of them, “They shall surely die in the
wilderness.” So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of
Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
Reason for Census:
We get a final reason for this second census.
When the Lord
had the Israelites send spies into the land, the people complained about the
report of giants being in the land and did not want to go into the land that
God had promised them. As a result, God
promised that that entire generation would die in the wilderness and only Caleb
and Joshua would be allowed to enter into the Promised Land.
(Nu 14:29–30 NKJV) —29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me
shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your
entire number, from twenty years old and above. 30 Except for Caleb the son of
Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which
I swore I would make you dwell in.
The writer of Hebrews tells us why that generation was unable to enter into
the Promised Land:
(Heb 3:17–19 NKJV) —17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with
those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He
swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So
we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Their lack of trusting God had kept them from entering
into the promises that God had for them.
This census showed that this the old generation had gone.
showed that it was time to enter into the Promised Land.
I think there are times in our lives when God pulls us aside and has us
take “account” of our lives.
Where have you come from? What have
Has there been an area where you have not been trusting God?
And then move forward. Where are you