HOW TO LOSE THE BLESSING OF GOD
“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.” –Numbers 25:1
Balaam is one of the most mysterious figures in the Bible. God spoke through him, yet Balaam also used sorcery to try to bring spiritual influence upon others. New Testament writers declared him to be driven by greed, the “wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). We also know from Numbers 31:15-16 that Balaam counseled the women of Moab to seduce the Israelite men into the sexual immorality that is referred to here in Chapter 25. The Moabite king offered Balaam a great sum of money to bring a cultic curse upon the Israelites. But Balaam had no power to override God’s protection of Israel. Therefore, since he could not overcome the blessing of God upon Israel with his own curse, he proposed the one thing he knew could bring a divine curse. If Balaam induced Israel to sin against God, God Himself could bring a curse upon His own people. The grove referred to in 25:1 near the encampment of the Jews would have been the area used in Moabite fertility rites. History tells us pagan nations, like Moab, commonly worshipped the gods and goddesses of fertility with sexual acts.
This combination of idolatry and sexual sin removed God’s blessing and replaced it with judgment. Balaam accomplished this by “counseling” (31:15-16) the women of Moab to draw the Israelite men into this trap.
The lesson is one we all must have written upon our hearts. Satan cannot bring a curse upon us. He cannot override the blessings God has ordained. But he can certainly tempt us to fall into a place where our own willful rebellion and sin against God causes Him to remove His hand of blessing and change it into a hand of chastisement.
Be careful! This one strategy has enabled Satan to bring ruin upon God’s people more times than can be counted. Satan doesn’t care what he must use. He simply watches us, discovers our most vulnerable area, and then dangles the carrot in front of us. Therefore, heed Jesus’ warning to “watch and pray,” lest you fall into temptation. Take the time to look at who’s really pulling the strings of things that seem so enticing, so necessary. From money to pride, sex to bitterness, he doesn’t care! Therefore, watch and pray!
BALAAM’S FOURTH PROPHECY
15 So he took up his oracle and said:
“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;16 The utterance of him who hears the words of God,And has the knowledge of the Most High,Who sees the vision of the Almighty,Who falls down, with eyes wide open:
17 “I see Him, but not now;I behold Him, but not near;A Star shall come out of Jacob;A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,And batter the brow of Moab,And destroy all the sons of tumult.
18 “And Edom shall be a possession;Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession,While Israel does valiantly.19 Out of Jacob One shall have dominion,And destroy the remains of the city.”
20 Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:
“Amalek was first among the nations,But shall be last until he perishes.”
21 Then he looked on the Kenites, and he took up his oracle and said:
“Firm is your dwelling place,And your nest is set in the rock;22 Nevertheless Kain shall be burned.How long until Asshur carries you away captive?”
23 Then he took up his oracle and said:
“Alas! Who shall live when God does this?24 But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus,And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber,And so shall Amalek, until he perishes.”
25 So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place; Balak also went his way.
ISRAEL’S HARLOTRY IN MOAB
1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 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.
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.”
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. 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. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
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.’”
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.
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.”