We are in the World Stream reading from the Good News Translation.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord, Teach us to live right and do right, to serve you wholeheartedly, bless others, and finish well. Amen.
25 – The sinister agenda of Balaam and the outright dark agenda of Balak came into bloom as the men of Israel started attending the party/feast/festivals of Baal with the Moabite and Midianite women. It was a sex cult and not much else. Balak wanted the Israelites distracted, cursed. Balaam was not able to curse them against God’s plan. We read that last week as Balaam tarries pathetically with Balak who tries again and again to get Balaam to curse them. As they go to one offering after another it all seemed pathetic. Could we call it “dilly-dallying on purpose”? Balak had gotten them to tarry where they shouldn’t be long enough and the Israelite men then slouched in their morals – 24,000 of them do anyway – and they get to whoring with local pagan girls. We see this in history where and when men go to places they shouldn’t be and stay longer than they ought. What does anyone think is going to happen? God’s judgment falls and all the fornicating men are ordered executed. Translations vary but the actual order was to impale them and put them up on poles as a testimony to what happens when men stray from what they are called to do. The whole mess is eventually blamed upon Balaam whom God/Moses ordered killed; Num. 25:4, 31:8./ 2 Ptr.2:15 /Jude 11 /Rev. 2:14. Turning away and disobeying God for cash and/or what seems like pleasure for a season brings condemnation and that is why Peter, Jude and John (in Revelation) bring it up 1300 years later at the close of the biblical text.
26 – With the latest plague and purge of the disobedient behind them, it was time to take a census before heading into the Promised Land. The census here is ordered of God and for practical purposes. I Chron. 21ff. is the census done in error; at Satan’s urging and was David’s transgression. When God says to take inventory, He always has a reason. When a man takes inventory against God’s will it is akin to someone standing in front of a body mirror to admire himself and flex for 6-7 hours. Uh, knock it off and go do something!] We’ve met a few people; ladies namely who tarry in front of a vanity for 3 hours each morning to put on makeup. Never mind that their children need breakfast, their husband needs them for sundry reasons, the dog isn’t fed…theyyyy need to be pretty (uh-hum, for whom??!). OK, enough said –> God called for this census. All tribes tallied, the men of age totaled 601,730. It’s interesting that in the census taken in Numbers 1; 38 years prior, there were 603,550 men of age. Of those, 603,548 had died in the desert and only Joshua and Caleb had survived. So now they were near set to enter the Promised Land with 601,730 men of fighting age.
27 – The issue of property going to daughters who had lost their father and had no brothers arises and is settled squarely and in a fair manner. Be sure to interpret this in the proper light theologically v.s. via the gender hostile culture of today that claims to be ever so sensitive while is fosters infection and resentment more than propriety and forthright fairness. The issue isn’t going to be settled here today but back up a moment and realize that if someone wants to be treated fairly, they should go to God [and not court, or N.O.W. rallies pushing angry feminist candidates and their resentful agendas]. Women in the Judeo-Christian world are the best treated, most honored, most bestowed upon, wealthiest, most cherished, empowered, pampered, and adorned women the world has ever seen. Christ has set women free so women are to realize how loved, treasured, and provided for they are. The reading ends today with the Moses getting a painful reminder of where he had failed God and His command to pass the leadership to Joshua. On the bright side this made Moses doubly resolved to make sure that Joshua is ordained and bestowed with the Spirit of God so that he is endowed and ordained to lead through the next generation as they cross the Jordan to enter their destiny. This is done and done well. Though a generation later they did not do so well with it. [see Judges 2]
A story today where God’s plan is not passed on so well: My husband reminds me of a sad story of a minister in Europe who died recently at 106. He was ordained into the ministry in his early 20’s about a decade after WWI ended. He served in the same church for 84 years as the pastor. That is all good and it speaks of longevity and faithfulness. But the problem is that he didn’t “pass the torch” to others. The parish was packed to the rafters from the late 1920’s to the late 1950’s. Then the distractions and worldliness overtook the culture in the 1960’s and the congregation slowly filed out – not to return. Neither was this pastor raising up, training, discipling, and ordaining others to assist in evangelizing his city nor his country, nor were missionaries being sent out. His last Sunday before his funeral, in the 2,000’s A.D. his once-filled sanctuary was not even 5% filled as about a dozen souls were scattered about the stone monolith that seats hundreds upon hundreds.
I.e. raise up and prepare others into ministry. Do not clutch the pulpit/the staff/the ephod to ones’self. Do like Moses did to Joshua.