God’s people start worshiping the Baals, the false gods of Moab, the people who want them destroyed. I want to look at a few verses that are in chapters before and after Numbers 25, which is today’s reading. We need a little context to fit this into our story of Balaam.
In one of Balaam’s prophecies, we are told that God doesn’t see sin or wickedness in Israel. That’s why they are blessed. He says there is no sorcery or divination against them, directly confronting what Balaam and Balak were trying to do. What we don’t see in the previous chapters is how Balaam shows his heart isn’t with God and for God’s people. We see him blessing God’s people, but that is only because he had to. In Numbers 31:16 we will read that it was “on Balaam’s advice” that this treachery against God happens.
Now, it’s not the Israelites listening to Balaam and taking his advice to worship other gods. Balaam advised Balak, advised the Moabites, the enemies of Israel, on how to get them. The way to destroy God’s people is to separate them from their God. He was their defense. There was no way around Him. But, if the Moabites could get the Israelites to worship other gods, they would remove themselves from the strong tower of the Lord and be vulnerable. The plan works.
When you are tempted to do something wrong, to be mad at someone, whatever it is, remember that it’s God’s enemies who are trying to get you to do those things. Satan wants you to do those things. He wants to get you separated from your God. He can’t do it Himself, but sin can.
Knowing that sin separates us from God should make you run the other way, do what’s right, and love and forgive. The Moabite women are sent in to entice the Israelites to their gods. They invite the Israelites to their sacrifices. Remember that a sacrifice often means a feast. They appealed to their flesh in multiple ways. It worked. God, in order to save His people, destroys those who have bound themselves to the Baals, to the false gods of hate and death instead of love and life. Twenty-four thousand die.
There is a battle. It’s always raging. See yourself each day as in the battle. Dress for war each morning. Do you know how to do that? It’s your helmet of salvation. Your breastplate of righteousness. Your belt of truth. Your shield of faith. Your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Your feet ready to carry the gospel, praying always. You can go each day on the offensive, so you are beating back the enemy instead of trying to defend the territory you’ve already won.
You do that by abiding faith. You know that you are saved by grace. You know that you are washed clean and have been given the righteousness of Christ and live it out by choosing to live His way by His power in you. You study God’s Word and speak it, knowing and sharing the truth. Fight the good fight of faith. You can be victorious in battle every day because Jesus has already won the war.