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Volume 23 - Page 53 of 207 Index | Zoom | |
where we have the law of the Nazarite. What a contrast. Israel should have been
"separated" as a nation unto the Lord: instead, they corrupted themselves, and "separated
themselves unto that shame, and their abominations were according as they loved". This
passage from Hosea makes us think of the charge against the church of Ephesus, "Thou
hast left thy first love", although, be it said, they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes.
Hate, however, is not so strong as love, and with the loss of the first love, hatred of the
Nicolaitan doctrine waned, so that by the time we reach Pergamos, the Nicolaitan
doctrine has a hold, and is coupled with the doctrine of Balaam, and answered by the
seduction of Jezebel. And now Levi with his sword and Phinehas with his javelin give
place to the Lord Himself, out of whose mouth goeth a sharp two-edged sword.
The last act of Moses was the execution of vengeance, a faint anticipation of the
"Day of vengeance of our God":--
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the
Midianites: afterwards shalt thou be gathered unto thy people" (Numb. 31: 2).
Each tribe of Israel sent 1,000 armed men to execute this vengeance of the Lord
against Midian, for all Israel had been guilty, and had actually lost double this number,
24,000 having died, as Numb. xxv.9 declares. In this connection we earlier quoted
I Cor. 10: 8. As some may have a difficulty because that passage says 23,000, it should
be noted that I Cor. 10: 8 specifies how many died in one day, for some had been hanged,
and some slain earlier (Numb. 25: 4, 5). Phinehas, whose javelin executed the first
stroke of vengeance on a daughter of Midian, led the army on this dreadful mission. This
was no conquest of territory, it was not the claiming of an inheritance; it was a priestly
blotting out of a sinful alliance. In this battle Balaam meets his end, unrepentant to the
last. Not a single man of Israel was lost in this battle, and a thank offering was brought to
make an atonement for their souls before the Lord, amounting to 16,750 shekels of gold.
This was brought into the tabernacle of the congregation, "for a memorial for the children
of Israel before the Lord" (Numb. 31: 54). This, in some measure, counters the other
memorial for the children of Israel, made of the rebels' censers (Numb. 16: 40).
Surely we are justified in seeing in these 12,000 overcomers a foreshadowing of that
great company, the 144,000 who overcome, who were not defiled with women, and who
stand out in contrast with the awful doctrine of Balaam and Jezebel.
Israel now prepare to enter the land of promise, and the remaining chapters of
Numbers are occupied with the numbering of the people, with laws adjusted to suit the
changed circumstances, and with the special provision of the cities of refuge. These we
hope to consider in our next article, which brings the survey of Numbers to a conclusion.