"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Sunday, July 17, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 25

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

NUMBERS 25: “AN ENEMY WITHIN US” – by Albert Lopez
For the full message, watch it on the Facebook video!

INTRODUCTION: We just celebrated the 4th of July this week and in a nutshell as the name of the holiday states it is Independence Day! If you’re a little kid you might know it as Fireworks Day! If you’re a big kid you know it as Grilling Day!

This day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades, and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

The children of Israel where no strangers to celebrations that were a result of God showing Himself mighty. He has shown them His powerful right hand; that delivered them from the bondage of Egypt not just once but many times. In this last chapter once again the God of Israel showed his sovereignty by using a pagan prophet to bless his people.

God showed his control and care for his people by intervening in the plans of King Balak and Balaam time after time. We continue to count the times because this hopeless duo has been trying to curse Israel for three chapters now, so they been at it for a while. You’d think that they would quit while they are ahead, right? Wrong; just like the other times they will now try a different strategy to make God’s people fall.

It’s like the old saying if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again. So, Balaam has figured out that he can’t curse what God has blessed; however, he must have heard through the grape vines that Israel was prone to Idolatry and so he went that route with some help of the women of Moab. He was set on defiling or making God’s people unclean before the Lord!

NUMBERS 25:1-2
1Now 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
.

The scene moves from the mountains of Moab to the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove (Shittim)

Play the harlot (they prostituted themselves) refers to ritual worship of foreign deities. Instead of worshipping the living God they were enticed to worship false gods.

This invasion of the church by the world is a menace to the extension of Christ’s Kingdom.
“In all ages conformity to the world by Christians has resulted in a lack of spiritual life and a consequent lack of spiritual vision and enterprise. A secularized or self-centered church can never evangelize the world.”
~ John R Mott, Evangelist, and noble prize winner.
The Bible calls us to set our thoughts on the things above and not the things of this earth.

We are also told to not love the world or the things of this world! There are good reasons for this as we read there in
1 JOHN 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
The world, especially here in the U.S. in June celebrated Pride month. But as we just finished reading, pride is not from God. Pride comes before the fall and destruction.
PROVERBS 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Lucifer experienced that first hand and sadly many will too.
Pride is sin and sin to God is like what trash would be to us. We don’t want to be around it. There is a stench, a smell. We take out the trash we don’t hang out with it or hang on to it. God is Holy and has nothing to do with sin. When speaking of Jesus, the Bible said he was without sin (HEB 4:15).

With the daughters (women) of Moab: Here we learn of the object that caused prostitution, the compromise and shows us how the allegiance of Israel went from God to women but sadly it did not end there.

King Solomon was a “ladies man” instead of a man after God’s own heart like his Dad (ACTS 13:22): His heart was deceived and taken from God and given over to woman and as a result to their idols.
Let’s read 1 KINGS 11:1-4 (sub heading: Solomon turns from God)
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. 4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
At the end however in the book of Ecclesiastes; Solomon found out that all was vanity under the sun if it is without God!
ECCLESIASTES 12:13
The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
So we are able to see that there was grace for Solomon and there is grace for you too at the Cross. Look to the One who was lifted up like the bronze serpent in NUMBERS 21 by faith and live. Live for Jesus and through Jesus.

Verse 2:
“…To sacrifices for their gods…”

The chief deity of the Moabites was Chemosh. Also they worshiped Tammuz, Asherah, and others that involved sacrificial rituals along with sacrificial meals (Communal offerings) celebrating the goodness of their gods.

You would expect the Jews to remember the nation’s awesome experience at Sinai when they entered into their covenant relationship with the Lord. They would also be expected to remember the nation’s idolatry at Sinai when Aaron made the golden calf and God judged the nation.
That event also involved both idolatry and sexual immorality. Israel was a special people, God’s “nation of priests”, and had no business mixing with the pagan Moabites and Midianites and worshipping their false gods.

“…bowed in worship…” The final step was bowing in worship, demonstrating the worshiper’s submission to the gods as servants. In doing this, the idolatrous Israelites were rejecting their exclusive allegiance to the one true God, Who could not be portrayed by figurines “carved images”, or other symbols.

The Lord Himself in the 10 Commandments said you shall have no other gods before me!

He also said, “Do not make an idol for yourself whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth” (EXOD 20:4-5).

Even more specific God said, “Do not bow and worship to them, and do not serve them; for I the Lord your God I’m a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers in iniquity to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.”

You might be thinking, Well I don’t do any of these things that we’re reading about.
We need to understand that even if you are not sacrificing animals or bowing to a statue, we too can be guilty of Idolatry. How? you might ask.

Remember that anything or anyone that takes the place of God in your life and as a result in your heart is a god.

We might be sacrificing our time, our energy and our money to things that can potentially compete with God in our lives if we are not careful.
Let us remember that whatever we think is great, things we enjoy, such as work that blesses us; a good hobby or spending time with loved ones, it’s only possible because of the greatest Person makes it possible for us.
Let us strive to always put God first and make Him number 1 on a list of 1.

NUMBERS 25:3
So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel
.

Israel joined itself with Baal of Peor!

(Se comprometieron y fueron infieles a Dios con lo Peor!)

This god would become the primary competitor with Yahweh for the devotion of the people of Israel!
In the late bronze age when Baal was emerging as one of the chief deities in Canaan according to numerous ancient texts reveals that Baal was the agent of the creative order who, with his consort Anath, defeated the forces of evil. The father God was El, who with his consort Asherah was said to rule the heavens and the earth. Of course, we know that this is a lie and an attempt by Satan to deceive and that he has accomplished.

From Greg Reid:
“We have a spiritual crisis, and one that has been in progress for decades now. James was very clear about this: “…when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (JAMES 1:15)

“Sin is a regressive disease, and once allowed in begins to grow, mutate, metastasize, and eventually kill. We have allowed the rot of sin to grow increasingly unchecked for many decades now.

“You know the story:

“Remove prayer from school, legalize abortion, swing wide open the door to occultism, eastern mysticism, and drugs; then attack, one layer at a time, human God-given sexuality.

“What is left?

“A generation that cannot define what a woman is, that ingests every drug imaginable, that soaks in multiple hours of occult practices through music and media, that has no moral compass, that has no faith in the idea of an intact home, that is being glutted with violent movies and even more violent rap music, that is incapable of speaking without volumes of profanity pouring out, and that the church has lost the ability to speak to or reach because she has become so compromised and afraid of confrontation with this wicked world.

“And what do you get? Not “mental health” challenged people, but rather lost, demonized, out of control and dangerously unpredictable people.

“People in the world will say things like, My god wants there to be abortion. The true God says don’t put your children through the fire to be sacrificed to the false god; Moloch.”
Verse 3:
The Lord’s anger burned: This never ended well for the children of Israel and this time would not be the exception.
NUMBERS 11:1
Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the ears of the Lord; and the Lord heard them, and His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some at the outskirts of the camp.
Taberah - The place of burning (The place where the Lord’s anger burned against them)

God‘s judgment was about to fall, implying the onset of a plague.

Charah - means to burn, be angry

In Scripture most often when used, it refers to God who is angry at human sins.

The children of Israel did not realize that they were trading the one true God for false gods. As we learned on the message the father of fathers, God is the one true God Who never fails us. With this in mind, Gods people were putting their trust in gods Who would always fail them And who would bring the wrath of God against them.

These gods were useless, how useless you might ask?
Let us read PSALM115:3-8 Sub heading: (Heathen Idols contrasted with the Lord)
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, The work of human hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, Everyone who trusts in them.
The prophet Jeremiah says it in this way: when speaking about idols:
JEREMIAH 10:5
They are like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.
Going back to Psalm the Lord gave instructions to His people, just like today He instructs His church. Don’t trust in idols but instead:
In PSALM 115:9
O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield
.
Which Israel failed to do many times including in this incident we are reading about.

They also failed to remember this about our great God:
PSALM 135:5
For I know that the Lord is great And that our Lord is above all gods
.
Israel forgot that they served the God who deserved all the praise!
PSALM 135:19-21
House of Israel, bless the Lord; House of Aaron, bless the Lord; House of Levi, bless the Lord; [We can insert Shine Bright Church, bless the Lord] You who revere the Lord, bless the Lord. Blessed be the Lord from Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
We too need to remember all these truths, so we don’t run the risk or fall into idolatry. If we have let us repent and comeback to the Living God who is slow to anger and quick to mercy!

NUMBERS 25:4-9
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.We have been talking about idolatry and the danger of falling into it. We are now going to read about how to go about driving out idols and killing them to remove them from the Lord’s camp so to speak.


Verse 4:
“Execute them in broad daylight before the Lord…”

The Lord, as in other situations, instructed Moses along with the judges of each tribe to execute the leaders of this rebellion immediately in order to prevent any further judgment against the people.

This was harsh punishment, but the holiness of the people of God was at stake. If the children of Israel did not remain holy, they would fail like the previous generation that had died in the wilderness.
The Bible calls us to “walk in the Spirit” (GAL 5:16) but we can only do that by the power of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to mortify or execute our old man or our flesh Church! The Holy spirit needs to bring our sin before the Lord and execute it so that we may be led into freedom and not into bondage! Are we willing to die to self so that Christ would live through us?

Verse 6:
“An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman... in the sight of Moses and all the congregation.”

This is no longer secret sin; it’s being exhibited and paraded in the camp of the Lord. What are we to do about it?

Phineas who was Aaron’s grandson was like this is not happening in the Lord’s house!!

Verse 8:
“… [he] took a spear, followed them and drove it through both guilty parties”

Phineas went after the couple after recognizing what his eyes were seeing. It didn’t stop there; he took a deadly weapon with the intention to kill. You might see this and say he is killing people, Yes and no. He is killing the people who knowingly are rebelling against a Holy God and on top of that want to defile the Lord’s camp.

Are we like Phineas in the way we deal with our sin? Do we identify that it’s invading and trying to take us captive and defile the temple of the Holy Spirit? Do we go to war with it having the end goal of killing it?

Or do we do what these two did and invite it into the Lord’s camp and parade it so everyone can see it, because we’re not worried about it; we don’t want to kick it out or even worse, kill it?

If we are not warring with our sin and killing the flesh, we are no different than these two that were rewarded with the payment for sin; which is death!

Verse 9:
“Those who died in the plague numbered 24,000”

Even though the killing stopped; there was still judgment, and many died. And there was a lot of killing. Let us keep fighting because as we read in the bible our weapons are not carnal but mighty in God; and there is no one who is mightier!

NUMBERS 25:10-13
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
.

Fighting against sin and the honor of the Lord pays off!

Verse 12:
“I (God) grant him (Phineas) my covenant of peace”

The zeal (the righteous jealousy) of Phineas in defending the faith was rewarded with a divinely ordained relationship.
First, the recipients of this covenant were assured of God’s presence, protection, and provision in times of trouble.
Second, His descendants would serve continually as high priests

Verse 13:
“They would be a Perpetual priesthood: over the nation of Israel”

Something worth noting: Phineas knew nothing about this reward before he acted, so his motive wasn’t selfish. He was motivated by his zeal for the honor of God and the authority of God’s law.

Remember church, because of the Ultimate High Priest: Jesus; we can enjoy Peace with God but even more we can also have the peace of God. This was possible because of the atonement that was made not just for the sons of Israel like Phineas made through his obedience and zeal, but even greater Jesus made atonement for the sin of the world! What a SAVIOR we serve!

NUMBERS 25:14-18
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
.

Connecting verses 6-9 in these last verses we find out the names of the guilty parties involved in this sin in which there was no forgiveness.

Verse 14:
“…name of slain man... Zimri a leader or prince in the tribe of Simeon”

Verse 15:
“…name of slain woman… was Cozbi, the daughter of a tribal leader”

Zimri was a prince of Israel and Cozbi was the daughter of a prince, so perhaps they thought their social status gave them special privilege to sin.

Let us understand that GOD in regards to sinfulness and the judgment that follows it, is no respecters of persons, whether they come from the lower classes or the elite. Sin, as we said earlier, is like trash and should bother us enough to take it out like we would the trash and if we don’t, God will!

Verse 17:
“…attack the Midianites and strike them dead”

This means war! as they say. The children of Israel with the Midianites and the church with sin! God declared that the Midianites were to be considered the enemies of Israel and had to be killed. We will read later in NUMBERS 31 that Moses goes through with this command.

Those who criticize the Lord and Scripture because of these national massacres fail to understand that God had been patient with these wicked nations for centuries and had given them ample opportunity to repent.
GENESIS 15:16
Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.
(The Moabites and Midianites are included here)

This kind of makes me think about how patient God has been with America which we claim is “one nation under God”, but we have strayed far from this proclamation and sadly we are witness to God’s judgment in some significant ways!

He is still merciful but if we look around there is signs of judgment everywhere! May the Lord have mercy to help We the people repent and turn from our wicked ways and turn to God asking for forgiveness along with a new heart to follow Him.

These last verses here; serve as a precursor to the command of the Lord in NUMBERS 33, in which the Israelites were to drive out the idolatrous Canaanites or else they would lead God’s people into idolatry. Israel had an important task to perform for the Lord, and the presence of those wicked nations was only temptation to the Jews to sin.

The same can be said for the Church, we are to be a light and salt unto a dark and dying world (MT 5:13-14); but with the presence of sin in our lives we cannot and won’t be effective.
May our prayer continue to be, Make us useful and effective to You Lord! Let us realize that in order to have this happen we need to drive out and kill the Midianites in our lives! By doing so, we will give our Lord the place that is rightfully His as the only, one true God Who is above all!

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