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Commentary on "Immorality on the Border"



Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, December 5, 2009, "Introduction"



In Numbers Chapter 22, we see that Balak the Moabite King was alarmed with having the Israelites in his territory. In an alliance with the Midianites, he asked the prophet Balaam to pronounce a curse on the Israelites but God intervened and blessings were pronounced instead. In Numbers 31:16, we learn that it was Balaam himself who offered the strategy of seducing the Israelites and is held responsible for them being yoked to the Baal of Peor.

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. (Num. 25:1 ESV)

We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. (I Cor. 10:8 ESV)



In today’s lesson we find this statement:

“No question about it: God’s overriding providence succeeded then, and will succeed. Just as He brought His ancient covenant people into the Promised Land, He will do the same in the end time for us. How much better, though, if we would cooperate with Him rather than work against His purposes.”

This implies is that if they would only have cooperated, God’s purposes would have occurred sooner, with less trouble for them and with less loss of life in the wilderness.

Note well that not even Aaron or Moses had the privilege of entering the Promised Land of Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb had this honor. This should alert us to turn back and reexamine what happened when the Hebrew spies returned from searching out the Promised Land some forty years earlier. The people refused to believe that God was fully able to lead them and conquer all the giants in the land of Canaan, In spite of all that he had done for them; their hardened faithless hearts blinded them to the steadfast power of God.

In Scripture we find a clear picture of God’s providence that does not require our cooperation to succeed perfectly. At all times God foreknew what their failures would be. In each of their moments of apostasy we learn an additional truth about how our all-knowing God anticipated their failures with a providence that was in place before the time of creation. First, let’s look at the words of Joseph where he comments on God’s providence to his brothers:

His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen. 50:18-20 ESV)

Everything we learn concerning the history of the Hebrew people leads up to the time when the Apostle Paul would write these words of encouragement to the Body of Christ, the Church in Ephesus:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:3-6 ESV)



  1. Certainly, if the people had faith in the promises of God they would have been able to enter Canaan forty years sooner than they did. In their unbelief, they could not understand that entry into the Promised Land would be totally through God’s power and could not and would not fail because of their own weakness. It was because of their unbelief that God declared to them that it would take forty years and that Joshua and Caleb were the only adults who would live to enter the Promised Land.
  2. By reading ahead in Num. 26:63-65 we learn that the events surrounding the immoral worship of Baal of Peor culminated in the death of the last of those who lived in unbelief.




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