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Commentary on "Immorality on the Border"



Day 6: Thursday, December 10, 2009, "Destruction of the Midianites"



We now look at God’s command to destroy the Midianites who were a major factor of Israel’s seduction and union with Baal of Peor. We then see God’s mercy for the chaste young Midianite women who had not contributed to Israel’s apostasy.


In Num. 25:17,18 we see that God commanded them to

“Harass the Midianites and strike them down, for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor…”

When the warriors returned with their plunder and captives, Moses gave them this instruction:

"Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.” (Num. 31:16-18 ESV)

Only the women who had not been a part of Israel’s apostasy were allowed to live.

As for the harshness of the command to kill most of the Midianites, we must remember that sin is the only and ultimate cause of all death. In Romans 6:23 we learn that the wages of sin is death. From Romans 3:23 we know that all mankind has sinned and deserves death.

Without the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross that the animal sacrifices upon the tabernacle altar represented; none, including the Israelites, could have escaped sins penalty of death. Seen from this perspective, we see God as being very merciful in allowing the enemies of the Hebrew people their “full cup of iniquity” before their physical lives was ended.

For those who in faith turn to God, his mercy is without limit. We only need to look at the story of Rahab the prostitute who protected the Hebrew spies. When they came to her, she chose to place her faith in the God of Israel and is even listed in the lineage of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We should never imply that God has any responsibility for sin nor the results of sin in our lives.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (James 1:13 ESV)



  1. God is not the author of sin nor is he responsible for the consequences. The wages of sin is death. Put another way, when we sin we earn death.
  2. When bringing an animal sacrifice to the altar, the Hebrew people were looking forward to their Messiah, the true Sacrifice. It would have been no different for the Midianites if they would have repented and turned to the God of Israel.
  3. In our own time we can now look back to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the author and finisher of our faith, who died on the cross and carried our sins to the grave. When he returned alive three days later, he declared victory over sin and death. Our faith and entry into the Promised Land is placed on nothing more and nothing less than the gospel of Jesus Christ.




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