Posts Tagged ‘adultery’

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 5 of 5)
David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

The leading cause of divorce in America is infidelity, according to http://www.marriage.com. Losing trust in the sexual fidelity of your spouse is one of the most difficult things from which to recover. While other issues such as money issues can cause divorce, they are more easily recovered from than sexual infidelity. It just seems that sexual infidelity hits us at our core of who we are as a person. It rocks our world in a way that any other potential divorce issue cannot. It sends the “cheated on” spouse into a spiral of distrust, self-doubt, anger and resentment that often cannot be unraveled. Because of the nature of infidelity and its affects on trust and self-image, it is no wonder that it is the leading cause of divorce. It is because marriages rarely ever recover from it. According to an article I read recently, only about 20% of marriages will survive infidelity. That means that 80% of marriages where there has been an affair that will not survive (and that includes couples that have reconciled for a period of time). It is, thus, by far the most damaging way for a marriage to encounter trouble.

You think about it too that sexual infidelity in 8 out of 10 cases will end in divorce and it is the single greatest cause of divorce in America, the damage does not end there. You may have an affair and it seems like your favorite chip and dip combination (you just can’t get enough of it). You get to see the person at their best and in limited ways so every encounter seems power-packed and emotionally charged. But home life is day to day. It is taking out the trash. It is taking kids from here to there. It is fixing the toaster. It is mundane, day-to-day life. Affairs are the playground from real life. The fantasy of affairs is intoxicating. But it is not real life. When real life crashes into the fantasy of an affair, real life wins. Eight out of 10 marriages where there has been infidelity end in divorce. Divorce is messy, ugly and costly. Divorce makes people bitter. Divorce damages children most of all. Unless you purposefully try not to do it, one of the marital spouses will use the kids as pawns in the game of “who wins the divorce!” Kids often have to pay the price. Children of divorce require counseling and their relationship with one or both of their parents is damaged for long periods of time and sometimes for a lifetime. The fun of an affair quickly turns into a lifetime of trouble. Even if one marries the person with whom they had the affair, that relationship enters real life and it becomes mundane. Second marriages end in divorce far more often than first marriages (67% vs. 50%). So, affairs though seemingly intoxicating while they are undiscovered always get discovered.

After discovery then it leads to a bee’s nest of costs both emotional and financial for your family. The financial costs of sexual infidelity by themselves are staggering. Studies have shown that the therapy and mental health costs alone add up to over $15,000 a year!!! Nope, there was no misplaced comma or zeros. The cost is seriously 15k annually. And of course this is a lengthy process. When all is said and done if will easily cost $60,000 and likely more than that. Often, life savings are altered and growth of retirement funds are stunted by dividing them and by using them to finance divorces and maintaining multiple households. Even before a divorce, sexual infidelity has its costs when carrying out affairs such as lost days at work, hotel costs, non-business expenses on business trips, and even the cost of getting fired and finding a new job. Detection costs such as private investigators, monitoring costs, and other detection methods such as detection software. The sexual infidelity detection business is a multi-billion industry just by itself.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the fifth and final of five times before we move on to the next passage – how sexual infidelity is like the myth of the siren on the shore. She seems so beautiful and you steer your ship toward only to have your ship sunk on the rocks. It is a venus fly trap to a fly. It always ends badly and not just for the participants but the whole family. In fact, the ripples go beyond your own family. Two families are directly affected. And the ripples continue out from there. Friendships are affected. Battle lines are often drawn and people must choose. Groups of friends often split over an affair even if it did not occur between two members of the group. The implications of sexual infidelity are far-reaching and go far beyond the two people who were unfaithful to their spouses.

Chapter 11
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

In this passage, we see that the effects of sin are far-reaching as we will see in the prophecy by Nathan in the next passage. David’s giving in to his carnal lusts would ultimately have disastrous effects on the kingdom of Israel. The consequences for David’s sins were spelled out and fulfilled precisely. Because David used the sword to strike down Uriah the Hittite, God said the sword would not depart from David’s dynasty. The sword was often employed in David’s dynasty. Intrigue would not depart as well. Ammon rapes his half sister and then kicks her to the curb. His son, Absalom, would kill another son, Amnon. Absalom would seek to overthrow David, and thus David would have to fight against Absalom and his forces to defend his kingdom. Joab would kill Absalom. Adonijah would seek to establish himself as king in David’s place, and Solomon would eventually have him executed (1 Kings 1 and 2).

David being one of God’s people and a generally wise man (except when it came to women) knew God’s law and I am sure that he had seen the effects of infidelity in Israelite society, but that did not matter to him when it came to that moment when he saw Bathsheba naked and bathing. Sexual desire can be so overpowering to us that we let it consume us and ruin us. David almost lost his kingdom over it. The seeds for the splitting of the kingdom into the northern and southern kingdom two generations later were sown here in his infidelity with Bathsheba and the family trees and troubles that it started. Just as many of us today in this society of serial marriages forget the huge financial, social and familial problems that extramarital affairs cause and plunge headlong into satisfying our sexual desires and carnal lusts. God does not condemn adultery just to be some capricious God but rather He knows full well what happens as a result. He has seen man destroy himself since the beginning of time with sexual infidelity. He condemns adultery because it has such disastrous effects on our lives.

So flee my friends from sexual immorality. It is not because it is prudish. It is dangerous and unhealthy in so many ways for you, your spouse, the one you are having the affair with, their spouse, your children, their children, your parents, their parents, your friends. Even our legal system is overburdened with the results of infidelity. Even our social service agencies are overburden with the results of broken families. It’s just not worth all the costs. God condemns adultery for these very reasons – not to hold us back from sexual freedom. God condemns adultery because it destroys families and societies.
It may sound crude but we must think with our heads rather than our sexual organs when it comes to slipping into affairs. Sure, it may satisfy some sexual curiosity or some personal worth issue or some other psychological deficiency that you may be suffering through but is it really worth it?

Lord help us to honor our spouses in our marriages. Help to be honest with them when things are not working. Help us to work through our problems rather than throwing the marriage away through infidelity. Help us to see that marriage is more than just sex. Help us to see the devastating affects of infidelity before we act upon it. Help us to learn from the mistakes of others such as David with Bathsheba. If we are suffering through the affects of infidelity in the past that caused divorce, help us to repent and restore those relationships by admitting our mistakes. Help us to forgive those who have hurt us deeply through infidelity in our pasts. Help us all to have a realistic view of the power of sex in our society and return to a biblical view of sex and of marriage. Help us to choose our spouses wisely. Help us to marry only when we know that the person that we are marrying is a person that we can be friends with in the living room as well as the bedroom. Help us to go into marriage knowing that its not all fantasyland. Help us to realize that marriage is real life and its has its highs and lows but that it is the most important relationship in the world. Help us to see our marriages as bigger than each of us individually. Help us to see our families as worth fighting for and thus be willing to work on our marriages. Help us to become best friends with our spouses. Help us with this thing called marriage.

Amen and Amen.

 

Ruth 1:1-5

Elimelech Moves His Family to Moab

Recently, this past week, I had someone make a comment on a blog that I had written about two and a half years ago, yeah, that’s right. Two and a half years ago. So, the dude really must’ve been examining my blog space to find a blog from two years ago to take issue with me. This blog from two years ago was about the wonders of the grace offered us through Jesus Christ. I used myself as an example of the wonders of grace and how grace is superior to legalism. In that blog, I noted that according to Scripture that divorce is a sin. The only reason that God gave Moses rules about divorce was to regulate the way that it was handled. Since God’s people were stiff-necked sorts, God wanted to ensure that women were treated properly in this distasteful and sinful marriage breaker. Under the law, divorce is sin. Plain and simple. It is validated by Jesus himself. In Luke 16:16-18, Jesus says,

 

 

 

16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.[a] 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.

 

 

 

18 “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

 

 

 

Under the law, I stand condemned as does my wife of the past 7 ½ years, Elena. We both have been married twice before. However, both of our previous marriages (two for her and two for me) each began prior to each of accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord. That does not make divorce any less sinful, but it does go to our motivations for marriage. It does go to the fact that we did not have Christ at the center of our lives at the times that we were choosing our spouses during those years. We were not Christ followers during those years. I did not come to Christ as my Savior until near the end of my second marriage (which crumbled under the weight of her adultery, my mistakes with money, and the death of her oldest son). Elena came to know Christ as her Savior about six months before we got married (as we sat in the small group meeting at our pastor’s house when we lived in California). Under the law, we both stand condemned. Under the law, we are sinners because of our divorces even though the marriages began when we were rebels against God and we chose poorly as to who we should be married to. Under the law, we are condemned as should have no access to God or to worship in the temple. We should be excluded from the people of God because of just this one sin much less a lifetime of other sins committed. According to my commenter at my blog, my mention of how God can redeem a second or third marriage is giving him the thought that he could steal money from a bank, beg for forgiveness from God, and then say that because he begged for forgiveness that it validates the stolen money as OK to spend. I think this fellow missed the whole point of the blog which was that God is in the redeeming business. Elena and I did not steal anyone’s spouse when we met. We were already divorced when we began dating but that does not minimize the sin of divorce for us. We are condemned by this sin alone and, like I said, not mention that we have mountains of sin that convict us as well. On our own merits, we stand convicted before God for the sins that we have committed. We do deserve a sentence to hell on the merits of our divorces alone. We can’t pretty that up or make that right or go back and change. According to the law, yes, we should be excluded from the pleasures of God’s righteousness. We should be excluded from heaven. We should have no claim to enter the gates of heaven on just this one sin alone. Just this one sin. What are we to do? How can we fix this? How can two sinners who have these sordid, sinful pasts that we cannot undo before the Lord before we met one another. How do we reconcile our sinful past to the purity required before God?

 

 

 

Grace is the answer. It is through Jesus sacrifice on the cross for all sins of all time that we can now approach the throne of God. Jesus paid the price and the penalty for our sins, past, present and future. I get the commenter on my blog is afraid that people abuse grace. I get that. But you have to ask the question that if a person claims grace over his apparent and unrepentant practice of sin, then, you may have to question their salvation to begin with. However, those that are truly saved have the Holy Spirit come to dwell in us and changes us from the inside out. Through the Holy Spirit’s working in my soul, I know that my past divorces are sin and it is because of just the divorce sins alone that I stand convicted by God and condemned to hell on my own merits. In the absence of the Holy Spirit, I would see that my divorces were OK and find reasons to justify them just to make myself look good. It is through the Holy Spirit that I am convicted of that sin and it pushes and prods me to make this marriage my last no matter what comes at it. I will no longer duck and run when our marriage hits a rough space. I will work on it and get through it. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ on the cross that I stand pure before God and the everyday working of the Holy Spirit that we become more and more like Christ every day. So, just as Peter stood convicted before Jesus for something he could not go back and change, Jesus asked this obvious sinner to feed His sheep. Jesus redeemed Him. Jesus made him useful to the kingdom. Jesus does the same for us through the cross. We can have our marriages that are sinful in the sight of God be made clean and holy through repentance and through grace. That is what makes for the joy of salvation and sanctification. We made free from the penalty of our past. We are given new life. We are made children of God. He can make the foulest clean!

 

 

 

What does this have to do with the passage at hand today? It has everything to do with it. Let’s read Ruth 1:1-5 together now and then I will explain:

 

 

 

1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

 

 

 

3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.

 

 

 

In this passage, we see that Moab was the land east of the Dead Sea. Moabites, who were related to Israel through Lot (Gen. 19:37), occupied parts of central Transjordan at various times. It was one of the nations that oppressed Israel during the period of the judges (see Judges 3:12 and following verses), so there were tensions between the two nations. The famine must have been quite severe in Israel for Elimelech to move his family there. It is a demonstration of how sometimes we compromise our beliefs to get what we want or think we need.

 

 

 

Marrying a Canaanite or anyone who previously occupied the Promised Land was against God’s law. Moabites were not allowed to worship at the Tabernacle because had not allowed the Israelites pass through their land. If an Israelite married a Moabite woman, they would have been prevented themselves, even though they were Israelite, from worshiping at the Tabernacle because of their marriage. Sometimes, when we are in desperate circumstances we compromise our beliefs and that is what we see here. Desperate times had come but as God’s chosen people, these Israelites, even in the land of Moab, should have set the standard for moral living for other nations. However, they mixed in with the culture and even married into it. How often do we compromise our values to just fit in with the culture around us? How many times have you and I stood quiet when people were Christ bashing and we should have stood up and said something? How many times do we commit sins that we try to justify later as being OK? How many times do we ignore God’s Word because we are in desperate circumstances? How often do we do an end around on God’s Word because that’s the easiest way from Point A to Point B. All of us stand convicted on this point. We have all sinned and grieved the Spirit of God. We have all made mistakes that somewhere down the road the Holy Spirit makes us want to throw up over the kind of person that we used to be.

 

 

 

Here in this passage we see that something bad happened that was against God’s law for the people of ancient Israel – to marry outside God’s chosen people, to marry into cultures that did not worship God. And, that is something that Elimelech’s sons did. They marry the wrong kind of person according the law. They clearly did this. There was no hiding it or justifying it. They compromised because of conditions. They went against God’s own law because of their situation. Bottom line, they stand convicted. Bottom line, they broke the law. However, because of the redemptive nature of God’s love and because Naomi and Ruth had such great faith, they were eventually redeemed from the horrid life that they were going to have to live. Because of their faith, they were rewarded. Because of their faith, the bad situation that began with a sin of marriage to the wrong crowd, God actually redeemed it. God made Ruth, who was from the wrong side of the tracks…I mean….wrong side of the Dead Sea, into one of the great women of the Bible. God made Ruth into part of the lineage of King David. She was his great grandmother. She also became part of the earthly lineage of our Savior and our Lord, Jesus Christ. She became part of God’s family and the line through which Jesus’ earthly family came. Her marriage was born in sin but it was redeemed. She would not have come to know God had it not been for this apparent mistake or sin of marrying outside the people of Israel. God used this mistake of the past because of the faithful obedience of Ruth after she came to know God and turned it into something beautiful.

 

 

 

No matter where you are at right now in life. Murderer. Idolater. Adulterer. You name it. God can redeem it and make it part of His plan. Your past you can do nothing to change. All you must do is admit before God that you are a sinner and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross as punishment for your sins that you personally deserve. And proclaim with your mouth that He is indeed the rightful one to do this because He is the Son of God and that as the Son of God He arose from the dead to give you victory over sin and death and you will be saved. You will be redeemed. Your sins are forgiven through your repentance and revulsion over your past sins. Your sins are forgiven through the grace that covers them at the cross. You are now redeemed. You are now made new. Through the Holy Spirit, you will come to repent and be grieved over each and every sin you commit from now on and you will be changed from the inside out by Him. Through the Holy Spirit, you can see how we really do deserve hell in the absence of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit process of sanctification, we are made useful to the kingdom. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, we see joy of our salvation as we stand at the precipice of what was our eternal damnation in the fires of hell. Through Jesus Christ, we are pulled back from the brink. Through Jesus Christ, we are made clean. By God’s grace, we are made into a part of the kingdom of priests. By God’s grace, we are made part of those who are useful to God in bringing about His kingdom here on earth.

 

 

 

Yes, I am a sinner. Yes, thank God, I am redeemed. Yes, thank God, he has made my marriage clean. Yes, thank God, He has made two mistake-makers into a couple that is useful to His kingdom. No cheap grace here. Changed lives here. Joy here at what God has redeemed, made clean, and made part of the fabric of His redemptive plan. Joy here at God taking filthy rags and clothing them in the embroidered cloak of grace.

 

 

 

Amen and Amen.

 

Joshua 7:16-26

Achan’s Sin

Although my first wife had been addicted to drugs that made my life a living hell cleaning up her messes both literal and figurative and although she had an affair during the height of her drug abuse that I had forgiven but that had changed my feeling toward her from love to responsibility and although after she got clean she transferred addictions to spending money causing me to have to chase bad checks all over town, it was my affair that crashed our marriage. It was my affair that seemed to have the most side effects. Although my affair was legitimized after my divorce was final and my paramour became my second wife, it was my affair for which I am responsible.

 

I can give you a hundred reasons for why it was OK for me. I had suffered so much with my first wife. Sure, we had some good years but those years quickly paled into surrealistic nightmare of drug abuse, arrests, near arrests, forking out money for lawyers and for rehabilitative care, cleaning up after her, literal burning of beds because she persisted in smoking in bed at night while zonked out of her mind on painkillers and God knows what else. There were threats on my life by her when it fits of rage such as threatening to drop a running hairdryer in the shower with me in it. All of these things should be good enough reasons for anyone to DESERVE to find peace and solace in another woman’s arms. After marrying my first wife when I was eighteen years old in 1980 and then suffering through all the pain and heartache of my first marriage, I began having an on again/off again affair in 1991. That began the inexorable decline of my first marriage to its ugly end in 1993.

 

The consequences of that decision to have an affair, even though I felt justified and even though others wondered why it didn’t happen sooner, were far reaching. When my first wife and I split up for good in April 1993, it started years of ripples of cause and effect that really did not end until my second wife and I split up in 2004. There were the harassing phone calls. There were the claims that I had molested my oldest daughter that I had to defend myself against. There were confrontations between my first wife and my second wife. There was DSS involvement in our lives after the molestation charges and eventually led DSS to see that my first wife was a woman who had gone off the deep end. Her emotional instability led DSS to remove my two girls from her care. It led eventually to my daughters living with my parents for over two years. It led to me being awarded custody after all that. It led to my first wife undermining my and my second wife’s authority with the girls. It led to your kids vs. my kids jealousies on the part of my second wife. It led me to have to almost ignore my own children to keep the peace with my second wife. It led to this high level of tension about our kids between my second wife and me to the point that our marriage was irrevocably damaged by it. Although my first wife finally remarried and backed off some of her craziness toward me, she hated me, was always in competition with me, measured her life by what the kids were doing for her or for me as the sign of their love. She loathed me until the day she died in July 2015, at age 55, a shell of the woman she once was, a woman consumed by hate.

 

The consequences of that decision to have the affair, even though it seemed as the right thing for me, personally, a kind of take that to hand in life that I had been dealt and even though I was madly in love with the woman who became my second wife, the whole thing had its effects on my children. I will never forget the day that my first wife and I broke up for good (and it is was probably a good thing from a physical safety standpoint that we separated because things had escalated to the point of physical violence). I will never forget seeing my oldest daughter, at this time 8 years old, holding her little 2 ½ year old sister, crying as I was packing my clothes into the car. I will never forget that pain that I saw. That started in motion a period of time that my oldest daughter actually at age 8 became head of their household (her mom, her sister, her). Their mom came so unglued over the next several years that my oldest daughter had to grow up way too fast. She was a mother to her mom and to her sister. She plowed down whatever she was feeling inside just to survive in her mom’s household. Her sister, just in those formative years of age two, three and four never really knew anything other than chaos, as a result of the change that happened that April 1993 day. To this day, each outwardly displays the effects of what happened during those years after April 1993. My oldest seeks stability in life. She wants family. She wants to fix things so that everyone gets along. She is too mature still for her age, at age 32. My youngest who never knew nothing but constant change and chaos from the time she can remember things is now age 26 and seems to just be living life on the edge and everything is everyone else fault for the state of her life. She lets life defeat her rather than embolden her. I worry deeply about her future.

 

It was this idea of the ripple effects of sin that came to mind and how others get washed up in the wake of our sins was what I thought about as I read about Achan’s sin this morning. Let’s read the passage together now:

 

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

 

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

 

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

 

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

 

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

 

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

 

In this passage, we see that Achan underestimated God and didn’t take His commands seriously (Joshua 6:18). Taking a robe, along with some silver and gold, may have seemed a small thing to Achan, but the effects of his sin were felt by the entire nation, especially his family. Like Achan, our actions affect more people than just ourselves. Beware of the temptation to rationalize your sins by saying they are too small and too personal to hurt anyone but you. Beware also of trying to rationalize away your sin because of trying to make yourself happy (I deserve this! God just wants me to be happy! I have a right to have this affair because my spouse is the way he/she is!). If it is contradictory to God’s direct commands or is inconsistent with the theology of the Bible, then, it is sin. Sin has its consequences. Sin is a cancer that affects more than just us alone. We wonder why Achan’s whole family was stoned here. That seems so drastic. However, we must remember that there were families of the 3,000 men that were impacted by Achan’s sin too. Many of the 3,000 probably lost their lives and their families are suffering loss because of what Achan did. To us this punishment seems unfair, but think about how our families often pay the price for our sins.

 

When I look at my own life, I can see now when I look back at those crucial years beginning in 1991 and continuing through 2004, all of it revolves around my decision to start a relationship with a woman who was not my wife. Although she became my wife later, she was not my wife at the time. It was adultery. Although this woman made me feel normal again and safe again and loved and although most people who know me during my marriage to my first wife would say hell yeah Mark had a right to do what he did, it was adultery. It was sin. No matter how what. I look back on it now and no longer try to justify it. The impact of that affair was freaking enormous. That affair, though justified in my mind, caused sin ripple effects on my life that were felt for 13 years. That affair, though it got me out of a marriage that probably would have ended with my death at the hands of a woman who had lost control, had effects on my children that still resound today. Adultery is a sin for a reason. God says it is because people get hurt and it defiles marriage. It creates sex outside the marriage covenant that leads to disastrous consequences. We live in a society where the social fabric is deteriorating rapidly because of unrestrained sex. God says it sin so it is so. God does not give us rules because he wants to keep us from doing things. He is God and He knows the impacts that sinful actions have on our lives. That’s why He has commandments for us. Because He knows what’s bad for us, bad for society, and what ripple effects are of each kind of sin. I am a walking, living, breathing testament to the ripple effects of sin – even when we think it is OK for us because of our circumstances. I am a testament to the fact that sin is sin no matter how you justify it.

 

So if you are married and you don’t like the spot that your marriage is in, and some girl is rubbing up against you, before you take the bait, think! Even if you feel justified by worldly standards and by the court of public opinion of your friends and confidants, think! Sin is sin no matter how you slice it. Whatever sin you are contemplating, but particularly adultery, think before you pass those boundaries from which you can never return. Think! Are you ready for the fallout of your sin? There is always fallout. Somebody gets hurt. Always the children. Think! Flee from sin. Adultery is an atomic bomb that leaves the landscape scarred and leaves people damaged.

 

Just as Achan’s sin destroyed his family. Just as my sin, though justified in my mind, was sin and it had such astounding effects on me and my kids, so is the sin that you are justifying in your mind right now is OK. Sin is Sin. Sin always has atomic bomb consequences on our lives.

 

Is it worth the atomic bomb and the aftermath? Flee from it before the bomb is released on your life. Flee from it! Now!

 

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 3 of 4)

Ai Defeats the Israelites

Sin has its consequences. Just look at our society. We tolerate sin now that was not tolerated by a society as short as a generation ago. We call it enlightened reason now.

 

Multiple marriages among heterosexuals is considered commonplace. Tired of your wife or husband. Get a new one. It is how we feel that is important. If you and I are dissatisfied with our marriage, we have affairs and we get divorced. We don’t care about the consequences of that. Adultery is a sin no matter how you slice it. God has made that pretty clear in His Word. There are no occasions where adultery is given an OK by God. The result of adultery and multiple marriages is that we have children being raised, typically, by single moms. They have been left burdened with raising children in ways that they were not equipped by God to handle alone. Moms are forced to be moms and dads all rolled up into one and moms are simply not wired for the dad role. US Census bureau statistics reveal that 80% of single parent homes are headed by moms. Today, you have to have a diagram to see what kids belong to what parents because of differences in last names. Sons of single mom homes are twice as likely to get into trouble with the law. Daughters of single mom homes are twice as likely to engage in sexual activity before age 16 and twice as like to become pregnant before graduating high school. Statistics for single dad homes are only slightly better but such homes are rare because men seemed to have vacated their responsibilities for parenting once a divorce occurs. Where are the fathers? The sexual revolution, the break with the old-fashioned moral absolutes of the Bible about sex, has had its consequences on our society. We have moms doing jobs of fathers that they are not equipped to handle and fathers have found pursuit of sex more important than parenting.

 

We live in a society now that glorifies male sexual conquests? Why get married these days? Sex before and sex outside of marriage is commonplace. Our music and our television shows and all forms of media blast us with the fact that sex outside marriage is not only OK but it is glorified. Listen to any popular music radio station today and the songs are about sexual conquests and how many babes you can bag. We have sexualized women to the point that they dress in such provocative ways that we wonder why there is so much sex outside of wedlock. There is a generation of women being culturalized to believe that sex is the measuring stick of their value in the world. In today’s world, a second date means sexual intercourse, if not on the first date. Sexual intercourse is a recreation sport in Western culture. The sexual revolution of the 1970s has evolved into what we see now among generations of men and women. The fallout is broken homes, children of divorce, increased crime rates among boys from fatherless homes, increased sexual activity and pregnancies among teen girls. But we are enlightened! Sexual freedom is what we were after and anything less than that is old fashioned and square.

 

Don’t get me wrong as a person who is standing in sanitized bubble and preaching because I have some moral high ground. I am a product of this society of heterosexual freedom. Affairs and divorce and single parent homes are just as prevalent among Christians as the general society. Sex outside of marriage is just as prevalent in Christian circles as it in the general population. I was no different. I rationalized away or just plain out ignored the portions of the Bible that condemned fornication, adultery, and divorce. When I look back on my sexual conquests of the past that were not in the confines of marriage, I feel ashamed that I actually rationalized it away as OK. Three of those relationships ended up in marriage but think of the ones that did not. Those broken relationships leave scars on us all especially our children. How can we preach to them about not having sex with their latest boyfriend or girlfriend if we have had a sordid sexual history often played out before their eyes, metaphorically speaking? But we are enlightened!

 

Another form of sexual relationships that has become en-vogue. Homosexuality is clearly stated as a sinful sexual activity just as much as fornication and adultery in both the Old Testament and the New. Even Jesus himself said that marriage is between one man and one woman. But now it is enlightened to say that it is OK. Anyone who steps out against homosexuality as being sinful behavior is blasted as being a cultural Neanderthal. Homosexuality has become so commonplace now and so accepted by society that the government has legally sanctioned marriages between people of the same sex. And this right is a protected right and any abridging of it is a discriminatory offense. We have gone so far as to say that it is OK to raise children in homes where the marriage partners cannot produce children on their own because they are of the same sex. The homosexual community will spout statistics of how children of gay marriages are no different than children from intact biological family units. And there are studies, too, that say just the opposite such the study by Mark Regenerus of the University of Texas. That study found that children of gay parents have more sexual partners as teenagers than children of biological heterosexual parents. They four times more like to become homosexual or bi-sexual. They are significantly more likely to have been sexually abused in some way. But my contention would be that it is really too soon to draw statistically valid comparisons since adoption by same sex parents is such a recent phenomenon. We will not know the impact for another generation. My contention though is as with the heterosexual “sexual revolution”, the impact of gay marriage and gay parenting will not be entirely positive and the subtle social effects will be dealt with by churches, governments, medical community, etc. Society will pay these costs not because we call these sinful behaviors but because we call it enlightened.

 

That idea of sin having its consequences is what I thought of this morning as I read through Joshua 7:1-15 for the third of four times that we will read through it. Let’s read it together, now:

 

7 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

 

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

 

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

 

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

 

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

 

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.

 

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”

 

In this passage, for this morning, we must ask the question, “Why did Achan’s sin bring judgment on the entire nation?” Although it was one man’s failure, God saw it as national disobedience to a national law. God needed the entire nation to be committed to the job they had agreed to do – conquer the land. Thus, when one person failed, everyone failed. If Achan’s sin went unpunished, unlimited looting could break out. The nation as a whole had to take responsibility for preventing this undisciplined disobedience. Achan’s sin was not merely his keeping some of the captured goods, but, more importantly, it was his disobeying God’s explicit command to destroy everything connected with Jericho. Achan’s sin was indifference to the evil and idolatry of the city, not just a desire for wealth. God would not protect Israel’s army again until the sin was removed and the army returned to obeying Him without reservation. God is not content with our doing what is right some of the time. We are under orders from Him to root out any thoughts, practices, or possessions that hinder our devotion to Him.

 

In our society today, we do not really see the problem with our society is the breakdown of the family. We call recreational sex good. We call homosexuality good. We call multiple marriages good. We call homosexual wedlock good. All in the name of enlightenment and the pursuit of self! The values of the past are old-fashioned and binding to the free expression of who we are. We want to do what we want when we want and how we want. In order to do that, we must erase certain specifically identified sins as not being sins anymore. We logically breakdown the Bible as being old fashioned and that a belief in an extraterrestrial God is simply foolish. We have to do this because if we admit His existence then we have to admit that there are sins. Even if we admit there is a God we have made Him in to our buddy that simply wants us to be happy and fulfill our most passionate desires. He no longer is a God who has standards of behavior. Everything we do is OK by Him.

 

The consequences of sins of heterosexual promiscuity are everywhere and are well documented after two generations of heterosexual free love. It is alarming. Add to that the homosexual revolution of this generation will have its effects that we will only begin to see in the next generation.

 

The point here is not that I am some sexual prude. I have participated in this society’s brand of sexual freedom and the consequences of it all on my own life are profound. What I am saying here is like Achan rationalized away a direct order from God and called a sin not sin and it had mighty, mighty consequence on his life. As Western culture and particularly in America, we are just beginning to see that calling things that are sins no longer sins has had and will continue to have its consequences on our nation.

 

It is Isaiah 5:20-21 that says it most clearly, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!”

 

May we one day as a nation and a culture realize that we have sinned. May we not rationalize our sexual sins as good. May we realize the consequences of saying that which is evil is no longer evil. May we realize that God did actually have our best interest at heart. May we be a nation that no longer hides its sins but admits them to the Lord and repents and turns away from them. May we be a nation that sees God not as our enemy but as our Father who wants the best for us and obey Him out of love and honor. May we quit shaking our fist at Him as disobedient Achans who rationalize away our sins as no longer sins.

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 22:13-30

Regulations for Sexual Purity

 

Isn’t ironic that in today’s world that the decision of star NFL quarterback, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, and his fiancée, the recording artist, Ciara, to not have sexual intercourse until after they married is considered bizarre? They are a power couple if there ever was one. He is a Super Bowl winning quarterback for a very successful NFL franchise and she is an accomplished recording artist with six albums, has released five top-10 singles, and has been nominated five times for Grammy awards and winning once. Russell is a strong believer in Jesus Christ and he felt that this time (he’s been married before), God implored him to do it God’s way. Russell, such a likeable fellow anyway, with his down-to-earth nature and his ability to realize that he is living every kid’s dream as an NFL player, was honest that it was going to be difficult. He had quipped once, “Yeah, it’s difficult. Have you seen her? To me, if there’s a 10, Ciara is a 15. So, yeah, it’s difficult!” Many claimed that Russell was a hypocrite because, since he had been married and divorced before, he had already had sex so what was the point of withholding it from his relationship with Ciara. Additionally, Ciara already had a child out of wedlock from a previous relationship. So, it’s not like they were virgins! Why? The seal of virginity had already been broken for both of them. They were no teenagers holding out for that first ever sexual encounter on their wedding night.

 

How amazing is it that people actually made fun of them, and particularly, Russell, for having made the decision! In this world that we live in today, it is more common to see celebrities flaunting their sexual relationships and having babies out of wedlock. Celebrities are often simply a reflection of the society in which they live. In our society today, marriage is no longer a sacred institution. Sex before marriage is so commonplace that you are considered weird if take sex off the table before marriage. Our society glorifies sexual intercourse more than anything else. Listen to virtually any popular song out there today and it is rare that it does not contain references to sexual intercourse just for the sport of it. Some people even claimed that Russell was brainwashing Ciara with his Christian beliefs because she no longer hung out with some of her closest friends from her past, including the likes of Kim Kardashian. Maybe, just maybe Ciara began to see things God’s way and how this warped view of sex that the world has is one she no longer wanted to celebrate.

 

Sex is the most powerful thing that God ever gave us. It is like nuclear fission. If it is not controlled and respected, it can be very destructive. Only under the right circumstances can nuclear fission produce good results (such as when it used to create electricity). It is the same with sex. Only in the setting of marriage is it considered a holy and wonderful thing. Outside of marriage it can lead to destruction. Christians are the least immune to the culture around them in this area. In a December 2009 survey by Relevant magazine, the researchers found that 88% of people who considered themselves evangelical Christians admitted that they were having sexual relations before or between marriages. That percentage is mostly likely a few percentage points higher than that by now. I am no man standing on a mountaintop condemning the world below on this one, sexual purity was not high on my list even after I accepted Christ as my Savior. I would have to do theological gymnastics to justify it over the years but it was when Luke Brower, my pastor at the time, confronted me about marriage and sex that I came to the realization that I need to break with culture on this issue and break with the lies that Satan was telling me. My past from age 14 before marriage at age 18, from the time that marriage ended at age 31 til I remarried at age 33, from the time that marriage ended age 42 until I remarried (to my wife Elena) at age 48, is littered with sexual relationships outside of marriage just like many American and many evangelical Christian Americans. Sex is powerful and it blinds us all.

 

It was the way we glorify sexual intercourse outside of marriage these days that I thought when I read today’s passage, Deuteronomy 22:13-30. God is pretty darn harsh here, I thought initially. Let’s read it together now:

 

13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. 16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels[a] of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

 

20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

22 If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

 

23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, 27 for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her.

 

28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

 

30 A man is not to marry his father’s wife; he must not dishonor his father’s bed.

 

Why did God include all this detailed law about sexual sin? Instructions about sexual behavior for three million people on a 40-year camping trip! But they would equally important when they settled in the Promised Land. In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul recognizes the importance of strong rules about sex for believers because sexual sin has the power to disrupt and destroy the church. Sins involving sex are not innocent dabblings in forbidden pleasures, as Satan often portrays to us, but rather is a powerful destroyers of relationships. They confuse and tear down the climate of respect, trust, and credibility that is so essential for solid marriages and secure children. Think about the credibility gap that we have as parents when we are single and pursue sexual relationships outside of marriage. Our kids lose respect for us when we have a string of sexual relationships paraded in front of them.

What are we telling our children when we get tired of our marriage and seek sexual relationships outside of marriage. Divorce rates are now at 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages. Much of it is because we think we deserve exciting sex lives that the culture tells us that we are supposed to have.

 

Yes, God is harsh here on sexual sin. Because it is a society killer. It is a family killer. It is a soul killer. Lord, help us to seek purity in our sexual relationships. Let us not make sex the center of our lives. Let us make you that center. Let us make sex the thing you want it to be, that wonderful intimacy between man and wife. Not some sport that we play so that we can brag about how many different partners we have had. Sex is not a game. Sex is God’s gift of intimacy to a man and his wife. Lord, help us to change the tide of the culture. May there be more Russell Wilson’s out there willing to take the ridicule of a culture that has lost its way in its worship of sex rather than God.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 31:1-18 (Part 1)

Vengeance on the Midianites

This passage is a rather disturbing one that we will have spend a few days sorting out. There are several things here that I think we need to talk about over the next few blogs and they are:

 

  1. Ethnic cleansing of the Midianites
  2. All but the virgin women were killed?
  3. The death of Balaam during the battle – it is a name that sound familiar!

 

So, here we go with the first of three blogs on this passage…

 

You hear a lot of talk among Christian circles, particularly because of the foul choices that we have for President this year, that we must be living in the end times. We may well be but I think that we are becoming like the Midianites of this passage more than we are close to Jesus’ return. In the United States, almost since the beginning of our nation, we have felt that we are God’s favored nation. And, indeed, we may well have been for many years. We were after all a nation that believed in Christian principles and built our governments and our society around those principles. However, the nation of the United States today is a far cry from the nation that our founding fathers envision and even that our grandparents or great grandparents knew.

 

When you look at the landscape of our nation today, you find sexual perversion everywhere. One in two marriages end in divorce and the principal cause of divorce in the United States is the unfaithfulness of one of the two spouses. Sex outside of marriage is as rampant in our country. Sex is thought of as sport now and promiscuity is almost praised now as our television shows reflect what we think as a society. Lack of numerous sexual partner before or between marriages is almost frowned upon in our society. Freedom of sex, the do what you wanna do that makes you feel and do who you want to do attitude of our society, has led us down the road to believe in all earnestness that marriage between two people of the same sex is considered acceptable behavior. We think, why not? If we have broken down “the old fashioned” views of fidelity between men and women sexually, why then is it not OK for there to be marriage between two males or females? Sexual freedom is what we are all about. Hey, I am not preaching to the crowd here. I am preaching to myself as well. Although I have been and pray to always will be faithful to Elena, my past is littered with sexual relationships that were not under the umbrella of marriage. Even after salvation in December 2001, there were strongholds of sin that I did not give up easily and sexual sin was one of them. So, don’t think that I am preaching at you. I am just as guilty as the next guy and include myself in these comments. Back to the commentary. Sexual freedom is king in our society. We want the sex we want and we want it know. Pornography is not just the strip clubs anymore. It is in our homes. Men, from the privacy of their computers, can view all kinds of sordid stuff that can’t be done in strip clubs. So, that industry, internet porn, is a multi-billion dollar industry. We say that it’s ok because it makes us feel good. We are not hurting anyone. We are just pleasing ourselves in the privacy of our homes, right? Sexual freedom is king here. We here folks say that we need to make abortion available because of incest and rape or danger to the mother’s health. If you read the statistics though, such abortions account for less than 2% of all abortions. Then, what are 98% of the abortions about? They are simply unwanted pregnancies. We want to have sex with whomever we want and when we want. Abortion is fallback birth control. I know that have touched on the hot button issues here of divorce, same sex marriage, pornography and abortion, but this is the state of our nation in 2016. Why do we expect Hillary or Donald to have morals beyond reproach when we are a nation that promotes immorality, adores it, and thrives on it!

 

As Christians, we have become like the culture when it comes to sexual sin. The divorce statistics among Christians is no better than that of the nation at large. We have debates internally within the Christian world as to whether same sex marriage is OK or not. We are actually have that debate for real. Sure, we are to love all sinners where they are and love them into the light of Jesus Christ and His Word, but we are to be above the sinful cultural norms of the societies in which we live. We are supposed to be different. It is not supposed to be easy to be Christians but we are trying to make it easy. In order to support our own penchants to be like the world in which we live, we say it’s ok to have multiple sexual relationships. We say it’s ok to commit adultery because we deserve to be happy. Christian divorce rates are as high as the nation at large and the number one reason for divorce among Christians is no different than the world around us. Several denominations of the Protestant church have come out in favor of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle just so we can appear hip and with it in the culture. Pornography among Christian men is rampant just as it is in the culture. A study of Christian men that I heard about recently states that 69% of all Christian men have viewed pornography on the internet within the last 30 days. It is an addiction within the church that is not talked about enough. We, as Christians, are sinking into the culture.  To the point that in order to assimilate into the culture, we have to get rid of virtually the entire Old Testament and much of Paul’s writing and even a good bit of what Jesus said to justify how we have become like our culture as the church.

 

The complete judgment upon the Midianites, the complete annihilation of them, made me think of what our nation may face somewhere in the future…not because Jesus is coming back soon but rather that we are going to face God’s judgment for straying from our position as His favored nation:

 

31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”

 

3 So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them. 4 Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.” 5 So twelve thousand men armed for battle, a thousand from each tribe, were supplied from the clans of Israel. 6 Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.

 

7 They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man. 8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.

 

13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

 

15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

 

 

The Midianites were a semi-nomad people, descended from Abraham and Keturah, occupying a tract of country east and southeast of Moab, which lay on the eastern coast of the Dead Sea. They seem to have been the principal instigators of the infamous scheme of seduction, planned to entrap the Israelites into the double crime of idolatry and licentiousness [ Numbers 25:1-3 Numbers 25:17 Numbers 25:18 ] by which, it was hoped, the Lord would withdraw from that people the benefit of His protection and favor. Moreover, the Midianites had rendered themselves particularly obnoxious by entering into a hostile league with the Amorites ( Joshua 13:21 ). The Moabites were at this time spared in consideration of Lot ( Deuteronomy 2:9 ) and because the measure of their iniquities was not yet full. God spoke of avenging “the children of Israel” ( Numbers 31:2 ); Moses spoke of avenging the Lord ( Numbers 31:3 ), as dishonor had been done to God and an injury inflicted on His people. The interests were identical. God and His people have the same cause, the same friends, and the same assailants. This, in fact, was a religious war, undertaken by the express command of God against idolaters, who had seduced the Israelites to practice their abominations.

 

Just as God expressed his judgment on a wicked nation, the Midianites, I fear that we as a nation are heading toward a judgment from God, all of us, unless we repent as a nation and obey God’s Word. If you are in sexual sin right now and are trying to justify it. Stop. Now. Flee from it. Help us as Christ followers become a more holy people and not try to justify our sins. Let us not be examples of holiness in our own lives so that we can be an example to a nation that sorely needs new examples. Let us pray that we return to God before He says He has had enough of our wickedness and executes His righteous judgment upon. We will not be able to say that we did not deserve it when that day comes unless we repent and turn to God.

 

Amen and Amen.