Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXXIV: Blessing By A CONSTANT Separation From Worldliness
(Numbers 31:1-54)
  1. Introduction
    1. The world is a formidable spiritual foe, for its lusts of the flesh, of the eyes and pride of this life seem to crop up everywhere we go and lure the believer into its traps almost before he knows it, 1 John 2:15-16.
    2. For this reason, victory over the world takes a constant vigilance in living by faith as Numbers 31 shows:
  2. Blessing By A CONSTANT Separation From Worldliness, Numbers 31:1-54.
    1. Israel learned to CORRECT her failure to separate from the lusts that plagued her in her PAST, 31:1-20:
      1. God told Moses to lead the people of Israel into a holy war to avenge Israel of the Midianites, 31:1-2.
      2. We know from Numbers 25 this war was God's judgment for the way the Midianites seduced Israel into idolatry by way of female cultic prostitution, esp. Numbers 25:1-2, 5.
      3. Accordingly, the people of Israel sent one thousand men from each tribe along with the holy furnishings and trumpets of God in accord with holy war, and they defeated the Midianites, 31:3-8.
      4. However, the soldiers saved alive ALL of the Midianite WOMEN along with the spoil, an act very INCONSISTENT with God's WHOLE PURPOSE for the BATTLE:
        1. It was specifically due to the female cult prostitutes of the Midianites that the men of Israel had been seduced into the worship of Baal of Peor in Numbers 25:1-2, 5.
        2. Thus, when the men of Israel indiscriminately took as spoil all the Midianite women, they inadvertently compromised their stand against cultic idolatry in Numbers 25, cf. Numbers 31:9-12.
      5. Thus, Moses with Eleazar [whose son, Phinehas had killed the Israelite and Midianite woman who sinned before the congregation in cultic prostitution (cf. Num. 25:7-8)] responded with the princes of the people with anger, criticizing the soldiers for saving these cultic prostitutes for marriage with themselves, Numbers 31:13-16. Doing so only opened the door for idolatry, cf. Deut. 20:16-18.
      6. Hence, Moses made the warriors kill all the women who had cohabited with men and save only the virgins who were innocent of cultic prostitution as future wives, Numbers 31:17-18.
      7. Then they were to purify themselves due to their contact with the dead, Numbers 31:19-24.
    2. Israel learned to separate from temptations to lusts in new challenges of worldliness she faced, 31:21-54:
      1. Having taken much spoil in this war, the people also ran the risk of lusting after the spoil and forgetting the Lord Who had granted them the victory so they could have it in the first place. (cf. Deut. 8:11-18)
      2. Accordingly, God laid out specific guidelines as to who would gain what material goods, and how much of each person's booty was to be given to the Lord, Numbers 31:25-54:
        1. First of all, God had Moses and Eleazar, the high priest divide the spoil evenly between the men who fought in the war and all the rest of the people, Numbers 31:25-27. This left the soldiers with a higher per cent of the spoil per capita for their effort, but still kept the people recipients of the booty.
        2. Then, 1/500 of the soldier's take was to be given by the soldiers to the Lord's priests where 1/50 of the people's take was to be given to the Lord, Numbers 31:28-31. Again, this showed God's desire to give due remuneration to those to whom it was due in proportion to their work, but nevertheless to hold all responsible, soldiers and people alike, to honor the Lord as the Ultimate Provider!
        3. The list of the booty is very huge as we can detail in Numbers 31:32-54: the value of the gold taken for the Lord's share, comprising 1/500 of the soldiers' take and 1/50 of the people's take was 6,700 ounces, or around $2,000,000.00 alone! (cf. Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, ftn. to Numbers 31:52) Thus, it certainly was NOT a FINANCIAL BURDEN either to the soldiers or to the people to give such shares of the spoils back to the Lord Who had granted them this victory!
Lesson: (1) The men of Israel needed to KEEP their INITIAL stand against being intimate with the Midianite cult prostitutes to stay free of their idolatry, so God called Israel's men to avoid taking all the adult Midianite women as spoils of war. (2) Then, He ALSO wanted Israel to STAY free from the lust of the eyes regarding the MATERIAL SPOILS taken in war with these same Midianites!

Application: As victory over WORLDLINESS is NOT a SINGLE battle, but a LIFELONG WAR, God calls us VIGILANTLY to be on our GUARD against its lusts THROUGHOUT our lives, 1 Jn. 2:15-17!