Journey with Daniel
“Day 31 (Numbers 31)”Categories: 40 Days in the Wilderness
Our context today describes the slaughter of the Midianites. They were destroyed by Israel as punishment for their role in Israel’s sin with Baal (Numbers 25). At the end of that story, God had told the Israelites to “Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them” (25:17). The command needed to be carried out before they crossed over into the promised land.
At God’s command 12,000 men destroyed the Midianites. But some of the soldiers brought home Midianite women and boys. Moses became angry, and ordered that these captors should also be killed, only the young females were allowed to live. The virgin girls could become servants, daughters, and wives to the Israelites and become Israelites themselves (see Deuteronomy 21:10-14).
The scene is bleak – as are war scenes. Such chapters remind us of the wretchedness of sin. This whole battle came out of a response of what Midian had done to Israel, leading them into sin and away from God. 24,000 Israelites had died for their sin with Midianite women (25:9). But this vengeance was not merely from Israel – it was from God (v. 3). Israel belonged to God – thus to oppose Israel was to oppose God.
While this may cause us to think about the justice of God and His righteous judgment, here’s a thought I took away from today – don’t be like Midian. They didn’t attack Israel, they influenced Israel. They didn’t steal their gold, they stole their hearts. They led the people away from God into sin.
Listen to what Jesus would say about this: “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). To personally sin is bad, but to lead another into sin is very bad. So bad, that drowning is preferable to causing another to stumble. I have the ability to influence others for good or evil. I need to ensure that I don’t cause another to stumble – whether through a bad influence (like Midian), or through causing someone to violate their conscience (see Rom. 14:15). These little ones believe in Jesus (v. 6). Don’t weaken their faith. Don’t cause them to question or doubt their faith. Don’t burden them with your personal opinions and judgments. Don’t push them away from Christ.
Build them. Strengthen them. Be patient with them. Thank God for new Christians – both young in faith and young in age. Be a source of encouragement and help for them. Mentor them. Help train them. Notice if they get discouraged or confused and help ease their minds. Be a source for good. Who knows – they may be the mature Christian teaching a new generation of babes in Christ – all because you helped them mature and grow along the way.
Holy Father, we know from our reading today that You take sin seriously. Help us to see sin as You see sin – to see temptation as You see temptation – and to be devoted to living the holy, pure lives You’ve called us to live. Forgive us if we’ve caused another to stumble through our words or attitudes. Help us to pay attention to our influence, and to resolve to be a source of strength to others, especially for the young in faith. Thank You Father for the babes in Christ – what a blessing they are. Thank You for their decision, their commitment, their curiosity for truth. Help us to help them – to be patient with them as others were with us. Help us to strengthen these young in faith, that they one day may be the mature – leading and teaching a new generation of babes in Christ. And all the good that may be done, and continue to be done, is for Your glory – our gracious Lord, the Giver of all that is good!