Evening Bible Study
We are getting close to the finish of the forty years in the wilderness.
:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
:2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward
you shall be gathered to your people.”
– descendants of Abraham from his last wife Keturah.
The land of
Midian is typically located along the Red Sea on the Arabian Peninsula, though we have
living as far north as the land of Moab.
It was Midianite
traders that Joseph’s brothers sold him to who in turn took him to Egypt.
When Moses fled
from Pharoah, he lived in the land of Midian with the priest of Midian
(Jethro), and married one of his daughters.
had formed an alliance with the Moabites and were responsible for hiring Balaam
to come and curse Israel.
When he was unable
to lay a curse on Israel, he came up with a brilliant idea. At Baal Peor Balaam counseled the Moabites
and Midianites to send in their foxy young girls to seduce the Israelite men
into having sex and following after their gods with them. Then God would get mad at them and the
Moabites and Midianites would come out victorious.
24,000 Israelites died from the plague that followed.
:2 you shall be gathered to your people
Moses will die when this war is over.
:3 So Moses
spoke to the people, saying, “Arm some of yourselves for war, and let them go
against the Midianites to take vengeance for the LORD on Midian.
:4 A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to
:5 So there were recruited from the divisions of Israel one thousand from
each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.
:6 Then Moses sent them to the war, one thousand from each tribe; he sent
them to the war with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the holy
articles and the signal trumpets in his hand.
:6 one thousand
from each tribe
There was going to be a relatively small fighting force.
Out of an army
of 600,000, only
12,000 would go on this mission.
This would be a war led by God.
:6 holy articles
The priest Phinehas and the “holy articles” were a picture of God’s
direction and presence. Some have suggested this
meant the Ark of the Covenant was carried into battle. Others think the holy articles are the
:6 signal trumpets
– these were the metal trumpets, not the ram’s horns (shofar).
:3 take vengeance
– literally “avenge an avenging”
There is a reason for this act of war.
They are going to exact punishment on the Midianites because of their
involvement with the Moabites in hiring Balaam.
At the incident
at Baal Peor, it was a Midianite woman named Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was
seducing the Israelite man.
(Nu 25:16–18 NKJV) —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.”
God was very serious about the great damage that the Midianites had brought
to His people.
The great sin that had spread through the camp of Israel had resulted in a
plague where 24,000 had died.
Let God be the judge.
The Bible says:
(Ro 12:17–19 NKJV) —17 Repay no one
evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as
much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but
rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will
repay,” says the Lord.
Is this contradictory to what Moses is going to do?
When the Scripture says “Never take your own revenge”, it doesn’t mean that
vengeance will never be taken. It only
means that you better be sure that you aren’t taking YOUR revenge. Let God handle the matter.
In our passage, God has decided that it’s time for
vengeance to come against the Midianites.
God has decided. God has ordered.
If you are in doubt whether or not the vengeance is yours, don't!
Keep in mind, I'm not too sure how Moses must have felt. After all, these are the people of his
father-in-law and his wife!
:7 And they warred
against the Midianites, just as the LORD commanded Moses, and they killed all
There would be a victory of the Midianites they faced, but apparently there
were other Midianites somewhere else. It
would be Midianites who would keep stealing the crops from the Israelites
during the time of Gideon (Judg. 6).
:8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—
Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of
Beor they also killed with the sword.
:8 Balaam – Even
though it looked as if Balaam had gone back to his home in Syria, at some point
he turned around and was living with the Midianites, apparently as a king.
:9 And the children
of Israel took the women of Midian captive, with their little ones, and took as
spoil all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their goods.
:10 They also burned with fire all the cities where they dwelt, and all
:11 And they took all the spoil and all the booty—of man and beast.
from the War
:12 Then they brought the captives, the booty, and the spoil to Moses, to
Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the
camp in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho.
:12 the plains of
Moab – (Play
“Moab Plains” map video) this has become their base of operations. This is
where Balaam tried to curse them. This
is where they conquered Sihon and Og from.
:13 And Moses,
Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation, went to meet them
outside the camp.
:14 But Moses was angry with the officers of the army, with the captains
over thousands and captains over hundreds, who had come from the battle.
:15 And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive?
:16 Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of
Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a
plague among the congregation of the LORD.
:15 Have you kept
all the women alive?
Deal with root issues
When I was a kid, sometimes
my chores involved weeding out in the backyard.
I learned that you can do it the easy way, or the better way. If you just pull the tops of the weeds off,
you parents might think you’ve weeded.
But the weeds grow back. If you
use your weeder and get the roots out, then the weeds don’t come back so quick.
God prefers that we learn to get to the root of the matter.
When a rich
young ruler came to Jesus asking what he should do to obtain eternal life,
Jesus reviewed the Ten Commandments with him.
The young man said that he had kept all these. Then Jesus said –
(Mt 19:21 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what
you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come,
Jesus knew what the man’s real problem was.
It was that his money was more important to him than God was. He got to the root issue.
like having a headache. The
doctor does tests and determines you need new glasses. Do you just keep taking Tylenol for the
headache, or do you go to get new glasses?
kind of like an alcoholic who has been losing clients in his business
because he keeps showing up late to appointments. So he works at making himself notes, he buys
himself a smart phone, he tries to get organized. But he really needs to just quit drinking.
Are you paying attention to the root issues?
The cause of the Israelite problems, the Midianite women, were the very
ones that they had spared.
therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has
known a man intimately.
:18 But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a
:17 every male
Little boys grow up to avenge their fathers
:17 every woman
who has known a man –
Some of these were the women who had led the Israelite men astray.
Serious about sin
In one sense, we are responsible for the things we do.
You can’t go through life blaming other people for the things that you
choose to do.
But there are things in our lives that contribute to us sinning.
We ought to be serious about removing the things that cause us to stumble.
I am not advocating that we literally actually “kill”
anybody. The principle is about getting
Look at how “cruel” Jesus recommended us to be to ourselves:
(Mt 5:29–30 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 into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to
sin, cut it off 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 into hell.
don’t think Jesus is actually recommending that we all cut our hands
off. He’s exaggerating to make a point – get serious about
(Col 3:5 NKJV)
—5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication,
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
“Putting to death” is a serious step. It’s doing what’s necessary.
:19 And as for
you, remain outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person, and
whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third
day and on the seventh day.
:20 Purify every garment, everything made of leather, everything woven of
goats’ hair, and everything made of wood.”
:21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone to the
battle, “This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses:
:22 “Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the
:23 everything that can endure fire, you shall put through the fire, and it
shall be clean; and it shall be purified with the water of purification. But
all that cannot endure fire you shall put through water.
:24 And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and
afterward you may come into the camp.”
:23 the water of
purification – water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer. This was intended to be a ceremonial
cleansing from the “uncleanness” associated with touching a dead body.
These soldiers that had come back from war needed to go through a time of
cleansing. All the spoils of the war
needed to be ceremonially cleansed.
There is going to be a lot of “plunder” from this war. God gives instructions as to how it is to be
:25 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
:26 “Count up the plunder that was taken—of man and beast—you and Eleazar
the priest and the chief fathers of the congregation;
:27 and divide the plunder into two parts, between those who took part in
the war, who went out to battle, and all the congregation.
The plunder was to be divided in half.
Half went to the men who fought the battle. The other half was divided among the rest of
A portion from each half would be given to the Levites as an offering to
:28 And levy a tribute for the LORD on the men of war who went out to
battle: one of every five hundred of the persons, the cattle, the donkeys, and
:29 take it from their half, and give it to Eleazar the priest as a heave
offering to the LORD.
:30 And from the children of Israel’s half you shall take one of every
fifty, drawn from the persons, the cattle, the donkeys, and the sheep, from all
the livestock, and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the tabernacle
of the LORD.”
:28 levy a tribute
for the LORD
From both “halves”, God would be given a portion.
would give God one part out of 500.
would give God one part out of 50.
Both the nation and the warriors were to take part of their plunder and
give it to God.
Remember who helped you.
The people are learning a valuable lesson.
They are learning to acknowledge that God was the one who had helped
Remember that only 12,000 Israelites faced a very likely larger
In the end,
there will be 32,000 young women left alive.
It’s probably not a difficult stretch to think that the army of the
Midianites might have been at least 32,000 men.
And God gave them the victory.
(Dt 8:18 NKJV) “And you shall remember the Lord
your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish
His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
How do we remember the Lord? By giving back to Him.
:31 So Moses
and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.
They did all the math and the portions divided up like this:
God’s portion (1/500)
Soldiers’ net portion
God’s portion (1/50)
People’s net portion
Note the number
of “people”. These were the virgin women,
they would become slaves.
:43 now the
half belonging to the congregation was three hundred and thirty-seven thousand
five hundred sheep,
:43 the half
belonging to the congregation
How come they get some of the spoil when they didn't do any of the
David had a similar experience in the battle to recover Ziklag. (1Sam.30)
The Amalekites had raided the city while David and his men were gone. They took all the women, children,
In pursuing the Amalekites, some of the guys couldn’t keep up, so they
stayed back with the supplies. When it came
time to divide up the spoil, some of the men didn’t think it right that those
who stayed behind get anything.
(1 Sa 30:23–24 NKJV) —23 But David said,
“My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into
our hand the troop that came against us. 24 For who will heed you in this
matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be
who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.”
Even those who stay behind get a reward
You may not be able to go out into the front lines of the mission field.
You may not be gifted in street evangelism.
You may not be able to pull off going to Russia.
But when you support, pray for, and encourage those who do, you share in
the spoil (the rewards in heaven!)!
:48 Then the officers who were over thousands of the army, the captains of
thousands and captains of hundreds, came near to Moses;
:49 and they said to Moses, “Your servants have taken a count of the men of
war who are under our command, and not a man of us is missing.
:49 not a man
of us is missing
Vengeance is safest in God’s hands.
God had commanded Moses to take His vengeance on the Midianites. It wasn’t
Moses’ idea, it was God’s.
And as a result, no Israelite soldiers lost their lives in the battle.
Keep in mind, there were only 12,000 Israeli warriors against at least
30,000 Midianite warriors.
The problem is that we often take vengeance into our own hands, and then it
gets kind of messy.
At one point in his life Moses took vengeance into his own hands –
(Ac 7:24 NKJV) —24 And seeing one of them
suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down
Moses ended up spending forty years in the wilderness,
fleeing from Pharaoh, all because he took vengeance into his own hands.
Let God take care of it.
Sometimes He will direct you to do something appropriate.
Sometimes He wants you to just drop it.
we have brought an offering for the LORD, what every man found of ornaments of
gold: armlets and bracelets and signet rings and earrings and necklaces, to
make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.”
:51 So Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from them, all the
:52 And all the gold of the offering that they offered to the LORD, from
the captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven
hundred and fifty shekels.
:53 (The men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.)
:54 And Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the captains of
thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of meeting as a
memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.
:52 16,750 shekels
– about 420 pounds, or 6,720 ounces
Today (with our record gold prices, $1,100 per ounce) that would be worth $18,425,000
32:1-42 The Eastern
:1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great
multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of
Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock,
:2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses,
to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying,
:3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Nebo, and
:4 the country which the LORD defeated before the congregation of Israel,
is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.”
:5 Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this
land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the
:1 children of Reuben
– The tribes of Reuben and Gad (eventually ˝ of Manasseh will join them) have
had their eyes on the territory east of the Jordan that the Israelites have
These were the
territories that they
had taken from the kings Sihon and Og (Num. 21).
The lands were good for taking care of livestock, and since they had lots of livestock,
they wanted to settle in these lands.
Are they settling for second best?
You could make the point that they want to settle down before they enter
God’s Promised Land.
But I’m not sure you could really make the case that their land is any
“less” of the land of Israel.
Neither Moses nor God speak up and rebuke them for quitting too early. Moses is just concerned that they don’t
negatively affect the other tribes.
:6 And Moses said
to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: “Shall your brethren go
to war while you sit here?
:7 Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from
going over into the land which the LORD has given them?
:8 Thus your fathers did when I sent them away from Kadesh Barnea to see
:9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they
discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into
the land which the LORD had given them.
:10 So the LORD’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath,
:11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old
and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
because they have not wholly followed Me,
:12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of
Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’
:13 So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander
in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in
the sight of the LORD was gone.
:14 And look! You have risen in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men,
to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel.
:15 For if you turn away from following Him, He will once again leave them
in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.”
:7 why will you
I affect others
Moses is saying that if these tribes decide not to go across the Jordan,
that the other tribes will become discouraged and not want to cross either, and
they will be destroyed in the process.
(Lk 17:1–2 NKJV) —1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no
offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be
better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown
into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Though we are all accountable for our own sin, we still can have an
influence on others.
Our bad example can encourage someone else to go down the wrong path.
(Ga 5:9 NKJV) A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
For yeast to do
its thing in a lump of dough, all it takes is a little of it and just let it
email going around with a series of pictures about ducks. A mother duck is walking on a sidewalk with six, small ducklings
close behind her.
In the next
picture you see the mother duck starting to walk across a grating in the
In the last
frame, the mother duck only has one duckling with her, and she’s peering down
in the grating looking for … her missing ducklings.
There are people who will follow our example.
Where are we going to lead them?
God’s desire is
that we encourage and nudge each other towards God’s ways, not against His
(Heb 3:12–13 NKJV) —12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart
of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily,
while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin.
:16 Then they came
near to him and said: “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and
cities for our little ones,
:17 but we ourselves will be armed, ready to go before the children of
Israel until we have brought them to their place; and our little ones will
dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land.
:18 We will not return to our homes until every one of the children of
Israel has received his inheritance.
:19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and
beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this eastern side of the
:20 Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves
before the LORD for the war,
:21 and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the LORD until He
has driven out His enemies from before Him,
:22 and the land is subdued before the LORD, then afterward you may return
and be blameless before the LORD and before Israel; and this land shall be your
possession before the LORD.
:23 But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the
LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.
:23 your sin will
find you out
Have you ever thought you were all by yourself and went and did something
silly, only to find out that somebody was off in the corner watching you all along?
The problem with our sin (as opposed to the cats), is that
our sin is no laughing matter. It’s
pretty serious stuff.
The wicked person thinks he will not get caught.
(Ps 94:7 NKJV) Yet they say, “The Lord
does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob understand.”
The truth is that God sees everything.
When Cain killed his brother Abel, he thought he could hide it from
God. Yet God found Cain …
(Ge 4:10 NKJV) And He said, “What have
you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.
God sees us. You can’t hide from
David wrote about what it is like when
you try to hide your sin:
(Ps 32:3–5 NKJV) —3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning
all the day long. 4 For
day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into
the drought of summer. 5 I
acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said,
“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
It’s better to admit your sin, turn from it, and find
:24 Build cities
for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what has proceeded out of
The good news is that these tribes will do what they promised. They will help the other tribes conquer the
Promised Land before returning to their families (Josh. 22:1-4).
:25 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spoke to Moses,
saying: “Your servants will do as my lord commands.
:26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock will be
there in the cities of Gilead;
:27 but your servants will cross over, every man armed for war, before the
LORD to battle, just as my lord says.”
:28 So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua
the son of Nun, and to the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of
Moses knows he is not going to be around to see the end of this particular
arrangement. He makes sure that the next
generation of leaders understands what agreements have been made.
:29 And Moses said to them: “If the children of Gad and the children of
Reuben cross over the Jordan with you, every man armed for battle before the
LORD, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of
Gilead as a possession.
:30 But if they do not cross over armed with you, they shall have
possessions among you in the land of Canaan.”
If they don’t help out, they will lose the lands they wanted to have.
:31 Then the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying:
“As the LORD has said to your servants, so we will do.
:32 We will cross over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, but
the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us on this side of the
:33 So Moses gave to the children of Gad, to the children of Reuben, and to
half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the
Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land with its cities within
the borders, the cities of the surrounding country.
:33 half the tribe
Half of Manasseh settled on the eastern side of the Jordan, while half of
Manasseh settled on the west side of the Jordan.
(Jos 17:5–6 NKJV) —5 Ten shares fell to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead
and Bashan, which were on the other side of the Jordan, 6 because the daughters
of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons; and the rest of Manasseh’s
sons had the land of Gilead.
These were the daughters of Zelophehad, who had earlier demanded a share of
the inheritance. Their father had died
in the wilderness, and they didn’t think it was fair for them to lose out on
the Promised Land.
Show map with
the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh.
Today, part of
East Manasseh are in the land of Israel, the area known as the “Golan Heights”.
The rest is in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Gad and Reuben are in the nation of Jordan.
:34 And the
children of Gad built Dibon and Ataroth and Aroer,
We have a list of cities these tribes occupied.
:32 We will cross
Helping others overcome
Not being selfish.
Not just thinking about your own victory.
In AA, one of the key components to gaining victory over your problem is
learning to turn around and help others.
We are all in this together.