Numbers 31:25-54 (Part 1) – Giving Back To Country, Giving Back to God

Posted: November 10, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 31:25-54 (Part 1 of 2)

Division of the Plunder

Lost in all the huh-bub of the election is that (1) tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and (2) Thanksgiving is just two weeks away from today. We have been so busy running up to the election and all the who, what, when, where and why that we have almost forgotten these two important holidays and we cannot forget their significance to us. We will look at the significance of both these holidays in light of the passage, Numbers 31:25-54, over this and one more blog.


First, tomorrow, we will celebrate Veteran’s Day. It is the day on the calendar that we celebrate both our living and dead servicemen who have made the sacrifice to serve our country. Originally, it was a holiday to celebrate the peace that came with the ending of World War I. It was call Armistice Day back then. Armistice is an expensive word, a fancy word, for peace (or the lack of conflict). It is celebrated on November 11 each year because the cease-fire that ended World War I went into effect at 11pm on November 11, 1918. So, the cease-fire went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month so it is fitting that November 11th is Veterans Day. Over the years though Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of World War I, morphed into a celebration of our brave men and women who have served our country, some of who gave their life in that effort. It was President Reagan, in 1986, who said it best when he said,


“Veterans Day gives all Americans a special opportunity to pay tribute to all those men and women who throughout our history, have left their homes and loved ones to serve their country. Their willingness to give freely and unselfishly of themselves, even their lives, in defense of our democratic principles has given our great country the security we enjoy today. From Valley Forge to Vietnam, through war and peace, valiant patriotic Americans have answered the call, serving with honor and fidelity.”


Thus, tomorrow we give honor to those who have chosen not to pursue the safe course that most of us choose. These men and women have chosen to go into service to our country knowing that at a moment’s notice they could be placed in harm’s way. They serve to protect the interests of the United States and do not question whether those interests are right or not. They just serve their country and defend our way of life. They love their country and are willing to serve. They find it a higher calling. They are willing to be away from family and friends for extended periods of time to live a life of vigilance, honor, duty and fidelity – a way of life that is bound by these characterstics, a way of life that we should employ in the non-military world. These men and women are willing to give their lives for the brothers in arms and for our country. There is no more honorable way to die than in service of defending freedom.


It was the willingness to sacrifice time, talents, personal resources, and their very lives that we honor on Veterans Day (when we celebrate both living and dead soldiers – whereas on Memorial Day we celebrate only those who have died). I thought of that because of the willingness to give was what I thought of here when I read through this passage as follows:


25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. 28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. 30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.


32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.


36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was:


337,500 sheep, 37 of which the tribute for the Lord was 675;


38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;


39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;


40 16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the Lord was 32.


41 Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part, as the Lord commanded Moses.


42 The half belonging to the Israelites, which Moses set apart from that of the fighting men— 43 the community’s half—was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 people. 47 From the Israelites’ half, Moses selected one out of every fifty people and animals, as the Lord commanded him, and gave them to the Levites, who were responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.


48 Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses 49 and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. 50 So we have brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles each of us acquired—armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces—to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”


51 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted from them the gold—all the crafted articles. 52 All the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds that Moses and Eleazar presented as a gift to the Lord weighed 16,750 shekels.[a] 53 Each soldier had taken plunder for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting as a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.


Moses told the Israelites to give a portion of their war plunder to God. Another portion was to go to the people of who Israel who stayed behind. Similarly, the money we earn is not our own. Everything we possess comes directly from God because it is He who gives us the talents that we use to earn it. Thus, everything we own is the result of our ability to earn money and our ability to earn that money comes from the talents that God gave us. As a result, we should always give a share of what we earn back to God. It is a sign of thanksgiving to Him for giving us the abilities to provide for ourselves and for our families. Without God giving us our talents, that are unique to each of us, we would not be able to earn wages. Then, it is selfish and dishonoring to God not to obey His command and give a portion of it back to Him. Are you honoring God in this way?


Just as our military men are giving back to the country that they love by going full-on, all-in, in service to their country, so should we be willing to give back in the same way to God. Usually, to a man (or woman), each military persons says that they owe a debt of gratitude to their country so they sacrifice to serve her and are willing to defend her with their lives. What if we viewed our money in relationship to God in this way?


Most of tend to give only what we have left over to God rather than sacrifice our personal pleasure and give 10% or more of what we make to the Lord. We do not determine to live our lifes off on 90% or less of what we make so that we might honor God for giving us the abilities we use to earn money. What if our soldiers decided to give our country what was left over? I will serve our country when I have a little time left over in my time wallet. What if our soldiers decided to serve only when they had an extra 20 minutes in their time wallet just like how we tend to give to the Lord when we have an extra $20 bill in our money wallet?


Let us honor the Lord in the same way in which our fighting men and women of our military serve our country. They are being sacrificial by not choosing the easy way. They could live a life of pursuing selfish desires but, no, they live sacrificially in service to their country. They make time to serve the country that they love. They have made it a priority in their lives. In the same way, we should make giving to the Lord a priority in our lives. We should honor the God who gives us our talents. We should obey His command to give 10% or more of what we earn to the Lord. We need to learn the life of generosity rather than the life of selfishness. Our fighting soldiers give generously of their time, talents, and resources to serve our country and do so willingly. We should be giving to the Lord out of the joy of thankfulness for how He has given to us and blessed us with our talents. We should be giving to the Lord out of thankfulness for what He has done in us through our salvation in Jesus Christ.


Amen and Amen.

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