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Commentary on "Immorality on the Border"



Day 2: Sunday, December 6, 2009, "Seduction"



While Israel was staying in Shittim they being to indulge in sexual immorality with the Moabite women. This area just north of the Dead Sea and on the eastern banks of the Jordan River was and still is a broad fertile plain. The people should have been making their personal preparations for the invasion of the Promise Land.

Today’s lesson centers on the downward steps that lead to sin and open apostasy.



When we read the Biblical account we learn that the people were ‘living’ or ‘staying’ in Shittim. It doesn’t say they were idle. Rather, it makes the matter-of-fact statement that;

”the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab” (Num. 25:1b ESV).

Remember, it was because of their unbelief in the power and trustworthiness of God that they were here forty years later instead of having entered the Promised Land back when the twelve scouts returned from reconnoitering what lay ahead for them.

The lesson uses the NIV quote; “the men began to indulge in sexual immorality….” The word “men”, a masculine noun, is more properly understood to mean; “people”. Since it is a good practice to let the Bible provide us with the understanding of Biblical words, we find this confirmed in verse three where:

So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. (Num. 25:3 ESV)

For the Spirit led mature Christian schooled in the ways of the world’s seduction it should be easy to understand how something like this could happen. What we need to do is focus on the root cause of this apostasy, which was unbelief in whom God is. While it is true that gross depravity may very well start with ‘little sins’, this is not the theme of Numbers Chapter Twenty-Five. God is specifically angered by the fact that “Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor”.

Since it is central to the theme of this chapter, it is appropriate for us to understand what it means for a man and a woman to be ‘yoked together’ and how this applies to the relationship that God intended for Israel to have with himself. We can then make a direct application to our own lives because this is the same relationship that the church, the Bride of Christ, has with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matt. 19:4-6 ESV)

When a man and woman “hold fast’ together, they become one flesh and are “yoke”. This is why adultery damages the marriage relationship. Furthermore, we see the marriage relationship is used to illustrate our holy union with our Savior, where the church is described as the Bride of Christ.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Eph. 5:25-27 ESV)



  1. The root cause of apostasy is unbelief in God. Their unbelief blinded them to the consequences of ignoring that God is a jealous God. Israel could not be yoked to an idol and at the same time be yoked to their one and only true God.
  2. Beyond the obvious direct harm to our marriage, adultery damages the image that marriage is meant to portray of our relationship to God as the Bride of Christ.




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