Numbers 31 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Moses, “On behalf of the people of Israel, take revenge on the Midianites for leading them into idolatry. After that, you will die and join your ancestors”... They attacked Midian as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived... But Moses was furious with all the generals and captains who had returned from the battle. “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded. “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord’s people. So kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves... "From the army’s portion, first give the Lord his share of the plunder—one of every 500 of the prisoners and of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. Give this share of the army’s half to Eleazar the priest as an offering to the Lord. From the half that belongs to the people of Israel, take one of every fifty of the prisoners and of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, and other animals. Give this share to the Levites, who are in charge of maintaining the Lord’s Tabernacle.”
Some chapters of the Bible like today's reading make us as Christians wish they were never recorded because it seems to show God in poor light. What is God speaking to us through this horrendous bloodshed He ordered and was it recorded incorrectly?
More than being a historical document, the Bible is God's story. It is a story written over thousands of years by a variety of authors and revealed God's plan, execution and fulfillment.
To understand a righteous God with an unclean mind is impossible because the two are the opposite of each other. Light and darkness cannot exist together in the same moment because one is the lack of the other and this hopefully helps us better relate to how we in our brokenness cannot understand God's holiness.
The situation here was that the Israelites were ordered to go to war on behalf of God and annihilate the Midianites. This was not a plan the Israelites conjured up and credited God for but it was God's plan brought to pass through the willing Israelites.
God, being the creator of all things, has the right to judge His creation and this was righteous judgment brought to pass. The Midianites condemned themselves and their families by their repeated sinfulness to a point where God chose to destroy them. Even Balaam was killed because he did not believe what God revealed to him about the Israelites and this speaks volumes to us about faith.
We live in a time of grace because of Jesus' death and resurrection. God's righteous judgment is spared by the shed blood of His son so that many will be reconciled to Him until the day of reckoning and because of this, we forget the severity of God's wrath upon us.
We - both the saved and unsaved - mindlessly live in oblivion to God's wrath and have taken for granted His abundant mercy and are fooled into thinking life is what we see. The urgency to call on God and receive His forgiveness through Jesus' blood is lost and those of us who are saved are lost living for ourselves and not for the sole purpose of living for God's glory.
We might not see this sort of destruction by the hands of man today but the Bible reminds us that the day of judgment is fast approaching us and the destruction of the Midianites is nothing compared to the eternal condemnation of God.
Many have and might suffer injustice at the hands of man but will receive justice from God and the hope is that they are covered by the lamb's blood that the justice rendered is one of blessing not condemnation.
The end of the chapter talks about how the Israelites gave God from their new found abundance and that is something we need to keep at the forefront of our lives. We owe our every breath and moment to God and what are we doing to thank Him for it? The first fruits of all we have should be our first offering to God and I pray that we would live a life of grateful obedience with the sole purpose of glorifying the one who reconciled us back to our creator.
In Jesus' Loving Service,