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Commentary on "Immorality on the Border"



Day 4: Tuesday, December 8, 2009, "Sin and Punishment"



This is the quarterly introduction to today’s lesson:

The fact that these men fell into a trap didn’t, obviously, excuse their sin. If they had obeyed the Lord to begin with, if they had kept His commandments, if they had done what they knew was right and not slowly opened themselves up to temptation, this dreadful apostasy and suffering never would have occurred. No doubt, at first, they had no intention of going as far as they did. After all, they were just going to a party, that’s all. And because Balaam, a prophet of their own God, had invited them, what could be wrong with that? How quickly, though, things got out of hand.

We will compare this to what Scripture actually teaches.



The phrase ‘these men fell into a trap’ contains two errors. In Num. 25:1,2 we see that the people, not just the men began to whore with the daughters of Moab and that they were all invited to the sacrifices of their gods. This is hardly a trap where they were unaware of what they were doing. The claim that ‘If they had obeyed the Lord’ this would not of happened is beside the point. They were still infected with the same unbelief they had displayed forty years earlier. There is nothing in the Biblical text to suggest they ‘slowly opened themselves up to temptation’. Being invited to a ‘party’ is not the same as attending sacrifices made to a pagan god. Balaam came from the city of Pethor (Num. 22:5) which was most likely located somewhere in Mesopotamia. The Israelites had just migrated up from the south. There is nothing in the Biblical text to suggest they even knew Balaam or had any direct contact with him.

The theme of today’s introductory dialog can be summed up as; ‘If only they had done the right things…’ where as the Biblical account simply states their utter failure to do so. As shown in yesterday passage, Mark 10:17-29, God clearly states that with man it is impossible to enter the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God, and gain eternal life.



  1. What the Hebrew people were lacking was a God centered faith that their forefather Abraham had:
  2. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Heb. 11:8-10 ESV)
  3. Abraham obeyed in faith and knew that his “designer and builder is God”. This has direct application to our own time and place in life. Only God can change our lives. It is the power of God that brings each of us into his Kingdom. Only by the “faith of Abraham” in the power of God will we avoid being yoked to the false gods of this world.




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