Saturday, March 13
Scripture: Numbers 25-26, Matthew 13
Numbers 25:1–3 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.
Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, but instead, at the Lord’s direction, he blessed Israel, and forfeited the reward Balak had promised. However, the OT text infers that Balaam suggested to Balak another way to destroy Israel: seduce them with idolatry and immorality. The NT authors understood the story this way: see
Jude 11, 2 Peter 2:15 which suggest that Balaam regained his lost fee this way, and:
Revelation 2:14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.
Evidently, Balaam who was so adamant about saying only what the Lord told him was seduced by the reward. He couldn’t pass up the cash, so he came up with another way to hurt Israel. He ended up paying for it with his life. (Joshua 13:22)
It’s interesting that the author uses the word “yoke” twice (v. 3, 5) saying that the Israelites had “yoked themselves” to Baal of Peor. Here it is used of joining in the worship of Baal via sacred meals and fertility rites (sexual immorality). We read in Matthew 11 that Jesus uses the word “yoke” to refer to being a disciple, being joined to Jesus as His follower and apprentice.
You will be yoked to someone or something! You choose who or what. As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord.
The enemy of our souls knows our weakness, our vulnerability. When he couldn’t curse God’s people, he seduced them into idolatry and immorality.
It’s still happening. When the enemy can’t shake our faith in Jesus, he distracts us with idols that drain our attention and affection. And sexual temptation is one of his favorite ways to derail us. Just in the last few months, the news about Ravi Zacharias (a seasoned ministry vet) and Carl Lentz (a younger ministry vet) is heart-breaking, but all too familiar.
Be on guard! Be attentive! Where are you weak? What idols distract you? Where are you vulnerable sexually? Be aware! The enemy would love to destroy you!
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Corinthians 10:12–13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Prayer: Lord, help us! I want to be faithful to You, yoked to You every day of my life. Help us to be aware of enemy’s deceit, to resist him, and to live fully surrendered to You!