235 – Number 25 – Joined to Baal

Last time I introduced Numbers chapter 25. I’d like to take a step back and remind us where we are in the narrative before digging in a little deeper. Let’s consider Numbers 22:1 and Numbers 25:1 together.

Numbers 22:1

      22:1       Then the children of Israel moved, and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan across from Jericho.

Numbers 25:1

      25:1       Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 

We can think of 22:1 as the left parenthesis, and 25:1 as the right one, and all the verses between them as a parenthetical insert in the journey of Israel to the promised land. In 22:1 we hear that Israel arrived in the plains of Moab. The nation sits idle while the author moves the spotlight off Israel and on to the pagan nations (Moab, Midian, etc.) and the diviner Balaam the talking donkey rider. Balak hires Balaam to curse Israel, and four prophecies from Balaam later we are told God just wouldn’t allow the curse. Other scripture references inform us that Balaam taught Balak how to get the nation to stumble. End scene, parenthetical insert closed, and now the author is again focused on Israel. Let’s look.

Numbers 25:1-3

           25:1       Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 

           2       They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 

           3       So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel.

Balak recognized he could not win in battle against Israel. He didn’t want to suffer the fate of the other nations around him who fell to Israel militarily. He thought he could separate the Nation of Israel from Yahweh’s protection through a curse. Balaam however, saw that Israel could do themselves harm if they could be drawn away by their own lusts and sin against Yahweh. All sin, no matter how big or small is against Yahweh. All sin creates a rift between the offender and God. In God’s economy, every sin must be accounted for and judged on His balance sheet.

Instead of meeting the men of the region on the battlefield, they meet the women in a spiritual battle for their hearts. These adulterous women were successful in turning the men’s hearts from the living God to false gods that don’t even exist! Israel sacrificed to nothing (false gods) instead of the living God. They bowed down or submitted themselves to these gods.

Verse three is literally heartbreaking. Israel violated their covenant relationship with the living, one and only God of the universe. The very God that broke Egypt’s chains of slavery and lead them away from the torture. He literally feed them and gave them water supernaturally. They experienced His goodness first hand. Yahweh fought their battles, gave them land, provision, and a promise He was steadily working them towards and none of it was enough. They were willing to throw all of that away – to through Yahweh God away for the fleeting pleasures of beautiful women! It wasn’t bad enough that they prostituted themselves, they actually worshipped and submitted their lives to false gods. They joined themselves to the false god Baal all the while ignoring the fact that they were already joined in covenant to Yahweh.

I know I haven’t uncovered any great spiritual truth. We didn’t even look up a single word in the source language. But I hope I’ve caused us to slow down a bit and notice the magnitude of the narrative. I hope you see the gravity of the depravity of Israel’s sin. This was a very serious matter with explosive consequences that we will see next time.

A word to the believer. You may think you need something more in your life to overcome sin and begin living a victorious Christian life. Israel had it all and yet they still gave in to their lusts. I would submit as modern-day believers we have more than they did. We are fully equipped to live victorious Christian lives because we have Jesus, and He has us!

A word to the unbeliever (if there are any reading this). You may think that because you have not submitted yourself to the living God that you can do whatever you want without retribution. Jesus will judge you in your sin. You are not exempt from sin’s judgment and punishment. Stay in your sin, stay separated from God and you will die in your sin and be eternally punished. Place your faith in Jesus and live. God has already judged Jesus for all sin and punished Him for it. He died on the cross for it but rose victoriously so you can have new life in Him.

A reminder for us all. Just because promiscuity or any sin for that matter is culturally acceptable does not mean you are justified and allowed to sin. Society does not determine morality. God determines morality and has communicated it to us through His word.

I hope you agree, God is so, so, very good and worthy to be praised!


All scripture quotations unless otherwise noted from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.


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