V RaptureChrist Newsletter
April 1, 2003

Lesson of Baal-Peor

Moab was the son of Lot by his eldest daughter.  The common ancestor of Moab and Israel was Terah who was Abraham's father and Lot's grandfather (Genesis 11:2); that is why God spared Moab from destruction when the Israelites came to possess the promised land after wandering in the desert of Sinai  for 40 years.

When the people of Israel came to occupy the land of Canaan,  Moab had already lost some of its original land and controlled only the southern half.  The northern half had been taken by the Amorite King Sihon. 

Numbers 21:26
For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon.

As the people of Israel approached the promised land, Moses sent an embassy to the Amorite King Sihon, requesting the use of a corridor through his land.  Sihon denied the petition and attacked Israel.

Israel won the war with Sihon, and as a result all of the Amorite lands from the Arnon to the Jabbok became part of Israel, but the lands boundaries of the descendants of Lot (Moab and Ammon) were left intact:

Numbers 22:1
Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho.

Numbers 22:2
Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.

Numbers 22:3
So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel.

Balak, the king of Moab did not believe that Israel would spare them.  He was convinced that Israel would attack them.  It is recorded in the bible how Balak hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel in order to defeat them.

Numbers 22:4
Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field." And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.

Numbers 22:5
So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, "Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.

Numbers 22:6
Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.

Balak king of Moab did not believe Israel's words of peace. The king of Moab and the Midianite chieftains allied with him hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. 

Balak offered Balaam a big monetary reward for his help, but God did not allow Balaam to curse Israel.

On his way home Balaam went through the land of Midian and learned how the Israelites had committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab who led the people of Israel into idolatry. 

Numbers 25:1
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.

Numbers 25:2
For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.

Numbers 25:3
So Israel joined themselves to Baal - Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.

Numbers 25:4
The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel."

Numbers 25:5
So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal - Peor."

The Zeal of Phinehas 

Balaam realized that this was a sure way of undermining Israel's adherence to YHVH.  He probably advised the Midianites to use their best women to seduce the Israelites into idolatry.  If they could separate Israel from the true God YHVH, Israel would lose God's protection, and be easily defeated.  The scheme was very successful.

Moses discusses the problem of the Midianites.Numbers 25:6
Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 25:7
When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand,

Numbers 25:8
and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked.

Numbers 25:9
Those who died by the plague were 24,000.

Numbers 25:10
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Numbers 25:11
Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.

Numbers 25:12
Therefore say, 'Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;

Numbers 25:13
and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.

The action of one person changed history.  We do not know what would have happened if there were no Phinehas.  Were it not for the zeal of Phinehas, the whole nation of Israel might have been exterminated at that time in history.

Numbers 25:16
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Numbers 25:17
Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them;

Numbers 25:18
for they have been hostile to you with their tricks, with which they have deceived you in the affair of Peor and in the affair of Cozbi, the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was slain on the day of the plague because of Peor

Balaam and the Midianites got what they deserved from the Lord for tricking the sons of Israel to sin against the true God YHVH.  The punishment of Balaam and the Midianites is recorded in chapter 31:

Numbers 31:2
Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.

Numbers 31:3
Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD'S vengeance on Midian.

Numbers 31:7
So they made war against Midian, just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed every male.

Numbers 31:8
They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.

Phinehas and the army of Israel executed the will of the Lord.  Today, the same danger has risen, and the followers of YHVH  will do well to remember the lesson of Baal-Peor.

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