In Num 31.1-20 the Lord tells Moses to make war on Midian, and afterward he would be gathered to his people, an idiom for death. Midian tried to influence the people of Israel with Baal. They got involved in a fight that wasn’t theirs. Moab had a legitimate fear of Israel at least. Baal was the son of Dagon (a son of god) so they misrepresented the true Son of God. Moses carries this out without delay, even though he knows that he will die soon after the war is over. He overlooks any personal advantages. Satan has tried to pollute the story of the Son of God coming, the resurrection and the redemption. This perversion goes all the way back to Babylon and every pagan culture has it in its past.
They will not go out against Midian with all the army, which was six hundred thousand plus plus. One thousand from each tribe will go out, totaling twelve thousand, but why only twelve thousand? First of all, the Lord doesn’t need twelve thousand warriors, or any warriors, to defeat Midian, so the number means something. The number alludes to the one hundred and forty-four thousand who will go out and make war with paganism in the land and the world during the Birth-pains (Rev 7.1-8, 14.1-8; Mic 5.7-90. Events in the land today help us understand why God commands Israel to drive out the inhabitants of the land.
In Num 31.7 we learn that Israel went to war against Midian, although Moab was also involved they were not the main player (Deut 2.9). But all the males of Midian were to be cut off. Then in Num 31.8 it says they killed the five kings of Midian named Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba. Then it says they killed Balaam with the sword. Balaam did not go back home after he got done trying to curse Israel, and he did not believe his own prophecies about Israel, and he died.
The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their children. They also took their cattle, flocks and all their goods. Then they burned all their cities and all their camps. All of this was brought to Moses and Eleazar the High Priest and to the congregation of Israel at the plains of Moab. Moses was angry with the officers of the army because they spared the women because he said it was the women who caused the sons of Israel to sin against the Lord, through the counsel of Balaam, bringing a plague.
So, Moses said they were to kill every male among the children, and every woman who has had sexual relations with a man. All the young girls who have not known a man intimately were spared. Those that killed anyone were to stay outside the camp of Israel and we to be ritually purified on the third and seventh day. In Num 31.21-24 Eleazar the priest tells them to purify the vessels that can pass through the fire (gold, silver bronze, iron, tin, lead, etc). Whatever could not pass through the fire safely would be purified by water. This process alludes to the judgment of God. The vessels are people. The first judgment was with water, and later they will pass through the fire of the Birth-pains.
In Num 31.25-54 we learn that the booty taken was divided. This will be how things will be done when Yeshua returns (Isa 53.12; Zech 14.14). We need to remember this in our walk with the Lord. We will have rewards and we should expect them and desire them. We need to “fight for them” like Israel did against their enemies. we need to be willing to take the heads off of anything that stands in the Lord’s way. A good soldier thinks that way and they are committed to the goal and focused on it. Rewards, eternal life, forgiveness, a new body, wisdom, insight, discernment, knowledge, understanding, gifts, gold, homes and a land are just a few of the rewards we can look forward to. This is the “spoil” if you will.
What motivates a person on the job? Some will say that they like what they are doing because it is rewarding but when all is said and done, its the money, really. On job applications, here is a tip. When negotiating up on a salary, if they question what you say, come back with “If you don’t believe me when I say this is what I need in a salary, how are you going to believe me when I say anything related to the workplace, or I tell you to change such and such to a customer?” What motivates us is that we get a reward, a monetary gain in a job. In our walk with the Lord, rewards are important. If its anything else we have missed it.
They got twelve thousand people to take the land because they were focused on the “spoil” (reward). They did what a whole nation couldn’t do in Num 13. The one hundred and forty-four thousand will be the same. One thing we learn from Scripture is you don’t mess with these people. They are committed and sealed by God and are not there to play around. No “religious” games will be played with them. One of their objectives will be to take the land for the Lord, and that includes the whole earth. If you can get just a few people in a city committed to the vision of God, a whole city can be spared in judgment. It doesn’t take thousands, just a “few good men and women.”
In Num 32.1-42 we learn that the tribes of Reuben and Gad have been blessed with an abundance of flocks and herds. They fear that there won’t be enough room to graze them in the land, so they propose to stay on the east side of the Jordan. Were they trying to avoid the battles that were coming in Canaan? It doesn’t seem likely because they would go to war with everyone else (Num 32.16-19).
Moses will get upset with them because in making their request they also disregarded the needs of their children and only mention their cattle (v 4-5). They had a warped priority and by saying they would not go in, they were making the same mistake the ten scouts made in demoralizing the people (v 6-15). The leaders get the hint in a limited sense (v 16) and they approach Moses again to restate their request. This time they mention their children, but only after speaking about their livestock.
Reuben never seemed to have a very high value on his children (Gen 42.37). Gen 37.29-30 tells us that he did not have much concern for his brother Joseph either. Moses is not very happy with their lack of priority. They were putting business before family. As a side note, when the Assyrians exiled the Jewish people, the first tribes to be conquered and sent away were Reuben and Gad.
Moses tells them the proper order in Num 32.24. We then learn in Num 32.26 that they adjusted their priorities to “our little ones, our wives, our livestock and all our cattle.” This type of thinking happens to all of us. We know our priorities but sometimes we get distracted. We must have clarity and strength to connect our heart to our head in order to act upon what we know is right. Don’t ever let our children know that they are not our most valued possession. This proved disastrous for Reuben and Gad. There were three cities of refuge for nine and a half tribes, and three for two and a half tribes. The east bank became a place of violence and bloodshed. Another lesson here is the wants and the needs of the smaller community or individual sometimes must give way to the wants and the needs of the larger community (v 16-17).
We will pick up here in Part 33.