Numbers 31:1



The Bible says in Numbers 31:1-5, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,[2] Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.[3] And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian.[4] Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.[5] So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.” In verse two God gave Moses one more task before Moses died. How long do we serve the Lord: all the way until we die. If we are alive, God has something for us to do. So in this sense there is no retirement. For some people the last thing that they do before they die might very well be the greatest thing that they do for the Lord. It might appear to be a simple conversation with someone in which a word from the Lord is spoken from you to someone’s aching or needy heart. And then because of that conversation that other person whose heart was touched may go on to do great things to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus.


In verse three Moses said to the children of Israel, “Arm some of yourselves unto the war.” This symbolizes the fact that we are in a spiritual battle: a spiritual war. The Christian life is a call to arms figuratively. One of the great passages about that truth is found in Ephesians 6:10-18. It says in Ephesians 6:10-13, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
[11] Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.[12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places
.” And the verses following verse thirteen describe all of the individual parts of the spiritual armor that are so important. Read and carefully meditate upon the verses in Ephesians chapter six and make sure that you are ready for the battle.


Notice in Numbers 31:3 that the Moses also said to the people, “avenge the LORD of Midian.” Whoever does not turn to the Lord to find forgiveness, will ultimately find judgment. It says in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment


The Bible says in Numbers 31:6-8, “And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.[7] And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.[8] And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” God brings judgment when He thinks it is time to bring judgment. He is the Judge. He brings death when He chooses the time for death. All wicked people who oppose the truth about Jesus Christ are heading towards their judgment too. One of the reasons that God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt was to use them as the agents of judgment against the heathen peoples who had occupied the land of Canaan. We know a lot about Balaam the son of Beor. He was the one who loved money more than God’s will, and God even sent an angel and a talking donkey to try and get him to change course and not be joined with the heathen people and their ungodly purposes. Draw close to the Lord and do what He wants while you can because the end of your life is coming.


The Bible says in Numbers 31:9-18, “And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.[10] And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.[11] And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.[12] And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.[13] And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.[14] And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.[15] And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?[16] Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.[17] Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.[18] But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” This passage is a good reminder of one of the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was a time of harsh retribution. This symbolizes the fact that even though now is an offer of love from Christ, there is still a time of retribution coming at the judgment for all who reject Christ. This passage also demonstrates how much the Lord looks down on moral perversion. It is not a minor thing in God’s eyes. In the Old Testament God gave the death penalty for these things. Of course, we no longer do that because this is the age of grace. The message of the gospel in the age in which we live is an attempt to attract people to the Lord by the offer of love and forgiveness. In the end the message of retribution did not work because people went away from God anyway. And also at the end of the age of grace it appears that almost everyone on the earth will turn away from the gospel of grace.  


The Bible says in Numbers 31:19-24, “And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.[20] And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood.[21] And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;[22] Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,[23] Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.[24] And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.” Even when we serve the Lord and do the best that we can to follow Him and do His will, we still are sinners with many faults and imperfections. The Israelites had just done what God told them to do, and now the Lord tells them to “abide without the camp seven days,” and to “purify” all their clothing. The person who stays in fellowship with the Lord daily is not the person who is necessarily with a reputation or a position of Christian service, but the person who regularly asks the Lord for forgiveness. It says in First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness


It is interesting that verses twenty-two and twenty-three mention fire and water. They are two things that purify and cleanse. Some things that pass through the fire come out even more pure. That is true of precious metals, that is true of our faith when it is tried, and it will be true of our works after they pass through the fires of judgment. One of the passages that tells us that we are not saved by works, but that our works will be judged is found in First Corinthians 3:11-15, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.[12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;[13] Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.[14] If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.[15] If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire


Water is the great cleansing agent on this earth and water therefore symbolizes the cleansing from sin. That is the point to remember: water baptism does not cleanse from sin, but merely symbolizes cleansing from sin. It says in Acts 8:36-38, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?[37] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.[38] And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” Notice the words “thou mayest.” You may be baptized, but only if first of all you already believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is not any type of belief either. It is belief “with all thine heart.” That is the salvation experience through trusting in Christ. Anyone who has not been saved cannot be baptized. Anyone who has been baptized without being saved has not really been baptized biblically speaking.


The Bible says in Numbers 31:25-31, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,[26] Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation:[27] And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation:[28] And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:[29] Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.[30] And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.[31] And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.” This is a great passage of scripture that shows how to treat veterans. Remember that only one thousand from each tribe went to war, and that makes twelve thousand men. But there were well over a million Israelites. Notice that the large amount of animals and other things that were captured from the Midianites was divided into two equal portions. One portion went to the twelve thousand and the other portion was divided up to all the rest of the Israelites. There were about one thousand times more non-combatants than there were veterans. This means that the veterans received one thousand times more in reward than the non-veterans. In our society we come up very short in rewarding veterans after this example in the Old Testament. And there is more. We can look at the required offerings as being kind of like a tax: a required religious tax. We see in verse twenty-eight that the veterans had to only give one out of every five hundred of the animals, but in verse twenty-nine we are told that the non-combatants had to pay one out of every fifty. That means that the veterans paid ten times less tax than the non-veterans. This is another good example that we do not take good enough care of our military and veterans. Their compensation should be many times higher than what it is. Instead of giving the military a ten percent raise, their salary should probably be increased by several times at least. Every soldier and sailor and veteran should be compensated many times more than the average citizen, and should pay much less in taxes. Veterans benefits should be much better than anything available in the best corporations in the land. How unwise we are and how unjust! Based on this example from the Old Testament, we do not know the first principles of taking care of our military and our veterans.          





Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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