Summary of passage: While Israel camped, the men engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women. The Israelites joined them in worshipping false gods and God’s anger burned. The Lord ordered those who engaged in false god worship killed.
8a) To indulge in sexual immorality with pagan women and join them in worshipping false gods, breaking two of the ten commandments and the law against being with unbelievers.
b) Personal Question. My answer: The consequences of that sin.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Not sure here. I didn’t worship any false gods. I did worship God. He continues to provide for my every need in every way always.
9) The people are about to cross over into the Promised Land. They need to be godly people and fulfill God’s will and desire for them to be separate and a standard to look up to. Plus, everything is going well for the Israelites. Their enemies are afraid. God just blessed them through Balaam. Now, one of the oldest tricks in the book, sexual sin, is threatening to take down the Israelites. God must stop this now. It must be made clear to the Israelites that this sin is unacceptable. As most of us know, sin and especially sexual sin, only leads to more sin. And sin God will not tolerate.
Conclusions: I liked this in how we see the devil never giving up in trying to take down God’s people. I like how God answers: swiftly and severely. I didn’t like the personal questions at all. They took the wind out of this passage for me as I paused and had to deliberate. This passage speaks for itself and sometimes I think the passage gets lost when we try to inject ourselves and our experiences. Instead of being about God’s word, it’s about us. History is history and yes we learn from history, but facts are facts.
Example: John F Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald for no other reason than for evil purposes and to gain notoriety. In all the history books I’ve read about this historical event, not one has asked me about myself personally or how I applied his death to my life. It was a tragic event as history both past and present are full of tragic events. This will never change because man himself never changes. Deep down we are sinners. The devil grabs a hold of some people and never lets go despite God’s word. Deep down we are all capable of murder. Deep down we are undeserving of God’s mercy. Deep down we are evil.
Point being: not everything applies to us personally. We all know if you do evil, you will face consequences either here on earth or in heaven. We all know (even unbelievers) deep down who we should worship and who we shouldn’t worship. We all know as Balaam discovered we will either be blessed or cursed by our decisions.
I am utterly frustrated here with the broad generalizations that are so broad (not even sexual sin is pinpointed here) that I am left with a headache in trying to figure out how to narrow it down.
End Notes: In some Bible translations you will see Midianites instead of Moabites here. They are indeed separate peoples who at the time were living in the same general area.
We’ve seen Baal before, a constant threat to the Israelites as he was a popular fertility god that promoted sexual sin.
Note how Balak could not curse the Israelites but God can and does–because of disobedience. We ourselves bring upon our own destruction, not others.
Balaam is credited with suggesting this idea of sending in women to seduce the men (Numbers 31:16; Revelation 2:14). However, he didn’t live very long (Numbers 31:7-8). God’s judgment was swift upon him.
This map shows just how close the Israelites are to the Promised Land and God is taking no chances in His plans being thwarted now: http://www.bibletrack.com/notes/image/Jericho.jpg