DAILY DEVOTIONS: "HOW TO LOSE THE BLESSING OF GOD" -Bob Caldwell


HOW TO LOSE THE BLESSING OF GOD
READING FROM: 
 Numbers 24:15-25:18
KEY VERSE:
“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!

BIBLE READING

NUMBERS 24:15-25:18

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.

NUMBERS 25

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.”

VERSE-BY-VERSE STUDY NOTES

NUMBERS 24

BALAM'S FOURTH PROPHECY (VERSES 15-25)

v. 17 A Star Shall Come Out of Jacob;a Scepter Shall Rise Out of Israel - This is a remarkable Messianic prophecy. A “star” is symbolic of a prince or messiah. A “scepter” is an allusion to a king.
v. 18 Edom - The Edomites were the descendants of Esau. The land of Edom was south-east of the Promised Land. This was a prophecy that Israel will some day dominate Edom as well, which was fulfilled in part when the Edomites became servants of David (2 Sam. 8:14).
Seir - These were the inhabitants of Edom before the descendants of Esau, the Edomites. Seir was poetically used for Edom.
v. 20 Amalek was First Among the Nations - Balaam considered Amalek the most ancient and one of the most powerful nations at the time.
v. 21 Kenites - MosesÕs father-in-law was from these ancient people. They dwelled in the area between southern Palestine and the mountains of Sinai.
v. 22 Kain - Another term to define the Kenites of verse 21.
Asshur - The Assyrians.
v. 24 The Coasts of Cyprus - This prophecy encompasses all the countries of on the western Mediterranean coast.
Until He Perishes - This is a picture of a series of conquests through the rise and fall of various nations.

NUMBERS 25

ISRAEL'S HARLOTRY IN MOAB (VERSES 1-18)

v. 1 Acacia Grove - This was Israel’s last campground and staging area before they crossed the Jordan River to the west and began their conquest of the Promised Land. The ancient city Jericho was west of this region across the Jordan River.
Harlotry - We later discover that the reason the men of Israel fell into sexual sin with the women of Moab was because King Balak took the advice of Balaam and set a snare for them (Num. 31:15, 16; 2 Pet. 2:15, 16; and Rev. 2:14).
v. 2 Invited the People - The women of Moab tempted the men of Israel in more than just sexual enticement. As one sin can easily lead to another, the Moabite women took advantage of the Israelite men who were already morally weakened by sexual sin and lured them into spiritual unfaithfulness and sacrifices to their Moabite fertility gods through union with their temple prostitutes.
v. 3 Baal of Peor - Peor was a very high mountain in Moab, which overlooked the wasteland. Peor means cleft. This mountain was named for the great gap or opening found in its face. The idol Baal was worshipped there.
v. 4 Hang the Offenders - This was done in broad daylight for two reasons: to appease the anger of the Lord, and so that those left alive might fear the consequences of sin.
v. 5 Who Were Joined to Baal of Peor - This was in obedience to the Law of God delivered to Moses (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 13:6, 9).
v. 6 A Midianite Woman - A member of the tribe of Midian; it was forbidden for Israelites to intermarry with them (Ex. 34:15, 16; Deut. 7:3).
v. 8 The Plague was Stopped - God sent a plague as punishment for the sins of the Israelite men who had committed harlotry and idolatry. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, the original High Priest, understood that this sin must be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly for the sake of the rest of the people. Once this sin was dealt with, the punishment ended (v. 11).
v. 12 My Covenant of Peace - Phinehas’ zealous act against sin was rewarded by God with a promise of continuing priesthood in his family line. Ancient Israel had no police as we do today. Therefore the priests of the Lord rightfully assumed responsibility to execute judgment on behalf of God. Today, God commands individual believers not to take vengeance but to depend upon the established authority of government (Rom. 12:17-13:7).
v. 13 An Everlasting Priesthood - This promise to Phinehas would continue until the end of the Jewish state. Later in Israel’s history when they fell into deep apostasy, God chastened them by sending them into captivity by their enemies. At this time, although the “office” of the priesthood remained, the entire system of priestly ministry and the sacrificial system were forced to halt by their captors.
Made Atonement - Phinehas appeased the anger of God and covered the sin of Israel. God’s anger is far different than man’s anger. God’s “righteous” anger is directed to the wicked (Prov. 15:18, 16:32; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Ps. 7:11; Is. 13:9; Nahum 1:3; and Rom. 1:18, 2:8) It is never misdirected or out of control (Eph. 5:6, Col. 3:6). God always requires blood atonement for sin (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 16:27, 17:11; Heb. 9:22).
v. 17 harass the Midianites - The Midianites were to be rightly punished for leading God’s people into sin.

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