Took me two weeks to write again.. Have to admit that I didn’t know how to react to this chapter. I’ve read some commentary that made sense, but still..
“Avenge the people of Israel… execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian” > the people have been wronged, and worse, God was wronged.
All the men of Midian died in battle. The women, the Israelite soldiers kept alive – which made Moses angry.
Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord. (Numbers 31:16 ESV)
After this, was the command that rattled me. It was harsh. Why?
Some clues.. after this, the men were considered unclean and were commanded to stay outside the camp and purify themselves.
There were other specific commands, and the Israelites obeyed. Then something amazing was reported:
[The officers] said to Moses, “Your servants have counted the men of war who are under our command, and there is not a man missing from us. (Numbers 31:49 ESV)
Not a man missing. Out of the 12,000. Whereas all the Midianite men died.
What was the “incident at Peor”? That it had to come to this?
The answer we can find in Revelation 2:14. Apparently Balaam of Numbers 22-24 wasn’t the good guy that we thought he would turn out to be. Even after his experience with God, he still gave advice to Balak on how to defeat the Israelites. He knew that the way for Israelites to lose favor with God is to cause, to tempt, them to sin. And that’s the background story of Numbers 25.