Awesome Hands – Part 135: “War with the Midianites”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Audio Links

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Awesome Hands – Part 135

"War with the Midianites"

June 3, 2018

In today’s study, we are going to visit the judgment of the Lord on the Midianites. If you recall, the Midianites sent their women to commit whoredom with the Israelite men and brought a plague to Israel.

Phinehas slew one of these Israelite men and the Midianite woman he took into his tent while the Israelites were mourning the plague that was sweeping through the camp of the Israelites.

Now, the Lord will speak with Moses to let him know what must happen to the Midianites.

Num 31:1  (ESV) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 31:2  "Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people."
Num 31:3  So Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD's vengeance on Midian.
Num 31:4  You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war."
Num 31:5  So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.

The Midianites were Abraham's posterity with Keturah, another wife Abraham had taken.

Gen 25:1  (ESV) Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.
Gen 25:2  She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
Gen 25:3  Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim.
Gen 25:4  The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
Gen 25:5  Abraham gave all he had to Isaac.

It’s hard to imagine so many people coming from one man, but this indeed is part of the families that Abraham was used to start.

The Midianites had fallen into idolatry, but their land was not a part of the promised land that had been promised to Israel. If this scenario hadn’t happened, then the Midianites would have just been left alone.

However, this story is an example of just how serious the Lord is about sin brought to His house.

Judgment had already began at the house of God with the Israelites, and now what will be the end of those that obey not the gospel, so to speak?

1Pe 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Num 31:6 (ESV)  And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.
Num 31:7  They warred against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every male.
Num 31:8  They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.
Num 31:9  And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, and they took as plunder all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods.
Num 31:10  All their cities in the places where they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire,
Num 31:11  and took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of man and of beast.

Moses is ordered to take the Israelites to war and kill all the men, but we also know that someone caught in adultery must be put to death according to the law, both male and female. Also, none of the males were given the opportunity to grow and avenge their people, so the male children were slain too. Only the female children could live.

Num 31:12  (ESV) Then they brought the captives and the plunder and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
Num 31:13  Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the chiefs of the congregation went to meet them outside the camp.
Num 31:14  And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war.
Num 31:15  Moses said to them, "Have you let all the women live?
Num 31:16  Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.
Num 31:17  Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.
Num 31:18  But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.

The Lord is very particular with how things are handled in His name. With any war, there is plunder, and when there was a plunder taken from this war, the Lord wanted it to be handled a certain way.

Num 31:19  Encamp outside the camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day.
Num 31:20  You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats' hair, and every article of wood."
Num 31:21  Then Eleazar the priest said to the men in the army who had gone to battle: "This is the statute of the law that the LORD has commanded Moses:
Num 31:22  only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead,
Num 31:23  everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. Nevertheless, it shall also be purified with the water for impurity. And whatever cannot stand the fire, you shall pass through the water.
Num 31:24  You must wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you shall be clean. And afterward you may come into the camp."

Everything must be cleansed. Everything means everything to the Lord, and nothing was taken in plunder that wasn’t purified. The people themselves who plundered and were plundered were all purified.

This was done with fire and with water, and this should tell us how we are also purified with the Word of God. Nothing is left unchecked.

Here are a few examples of how the Lord uses purification to cleanse His people. These verses are all from the ESV translation for ease of reading in common English.

Gen 35:1  God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau."
Gen 35:2  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.
Gen 35:3  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone."

Exo 29:34  And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.
Exo 29:35  "Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Through seven days shall you ordain them,
Exo 29:36  and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it.

Neh 13:20  Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
Neh 13:21  But I warned them and said to them, "Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you." From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath.
Neh 13:22  Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.

Isa 52:10  The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Isa 52:11  Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.
Isa 52:12  For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
Isa 52:13  Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.

Why does the Lord take the time to have it recorded that we should know that purification is needed? War is not the only time purification is needed, but it is among the times that it is needed.

Luk 2:21  And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Luk 2:23  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luk 2:24  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Act 21:26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Act 21:27  And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
Act 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

The Israelites certainly knew that purification was needed, as we can see with the above examples.

Both of these times were pertaining to things in the law of Moses, but we know there is a spiritual significance to these things.

Being that we know we are in spiritual war with the carnal mind that is in us, what is the purpose of purification needing to happen after war?

Here is what we need to know about spiritual purification as it pertains to the new testament.

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Tit 2:12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Tit 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Tit 2:15  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.


Jas 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jas 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Jas 4:9  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
Jas 4:10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

That sounds all good and well, but how to we “purify our hearts” while also knowing that it is the Lord who, by the giving of Himself, purifies unto Himself a peculiar people?

It seems too simple just to say it is the Lord working it all, even though it is. However, just like with the Israelites needing to purify themselves after going to war with the Midianites, we, too, must be participants in the purification process.

We must purify our hearts and our “double minds”. Whatsoever is not the mind of Christ is the mind that must be cleansed.

This is why fire and water are mentioned in the purification process. When we take these terms and apply them spiritually, then we know it is the Word of God that provides us the ability to cleanse ourselves of the other minds we have which are all contrary to the mind of Christ.

1Pe 4:1  Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1Pe 4:2  That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

Ultimately, living to the will of God is accepting and living in the various situations we are facing both individually and collectively.

When I come to you all with a prayer request, or you to me with one, you are sharing with me what the will of God is in your life.

We are living to the will of God when we take on the mind of Christ and answer all things as Jesus did, (Luk 22:42)  "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

“If thou be willing” is a profound way to live. All of humanity, including all of us, will NOT be submissive to this way of thinking if it is left up to us alone.

If you want to know what the will of God is in your life, just treat it like the weather in Indiana. We have a saying which is, “Don’t like the weather? If you wait a few minutes, it will change.”

The weather is what it is, and if you wait a little while the weather will change to something different (and most likely something you prefer since you are presumably currently NOT liking the weather).

It’s the same with the will of God. If we wait a little while, we WILL know what the will of God is because everything happening around us, and IN US, will tell us what His will is for whatever it is we are considering or with which we are dealing.

What makes this concept different than being in a lascivious mindset towards the grace of God?

Jud 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jud 1:4  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5  I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

The difference between waiting on the revealing of the will of God in your life and becoming lascivious in your mindset toward serving the Lord, is that while we are waiting for the full revelation of the will of God in our lives on any given matter, we are MOVING with FAITH in ACTION toward what we believe we should be doing in order to do all we do to His glory.

1Co 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

When we live in this mindset, we will be rewarded with the “spoils of war” just as the Israelites are with the Midianites. Remember, this war was a judgment of the Lord on the Midianites for their part in causing Israel to turn from the Lord and worship other gods while committing whoredom.

Therefore, this war was an accounting to the Lord for His judgment, and those who execute the judgment of the Lord are rewarded by the Lord.

Num 31:25 (ESV)  The LORD said to Moses,
Num 31:26  "Take the count of the plunder that was taken, both of man and of beast, you and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers' houses of the congregation,
Num 31:27  and divide the plunder into two parts between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation.
Num 31:28  And levy for the LORD a tribute from the men of war who went out to battle, one out of five hundred, of the people and of the oxen and of the donkeys and of the flocks.
Num 31:29  Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.
Num 31:30  And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.
Num 31:31  And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.

The rest of Numbers 31 goes into the details of how the plunder was divided, but the thing to take away from this story in Numbers is to recognize that we still have these same principles applied to us when we obey and disobey the Lord.

Likewise, our “houses” are rewarded with the plunder of the Lord, which in our cases are spiritual riches in heavenly places.

I will end this study with an admonition from Peter, which is very much applicable to this study today.

Having the mind of Christ is NOT just being an encyclopedia of verses which have no practical application in our lives. The word of God is “quick”, which also is translated "LIVING" in other places in scripture.

Having the mind of Christ is applying what we know to be right in all the decisions we make. It is the ability to not be ENTANGLED AGAIN in the ways of the world, which does not have the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour.

2Pe 2:17  These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
2Pe 2:18  For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
2Pe 2:19  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
2Pe 2:20  For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
2Pe 2:21  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
2Pe 2:22  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

We must avoid the “great swelling words of vanity” that oftentimes come from WITHIN our own hearts and minds and drowns out the willingness to say with Christ, “nevertheless thy will be done.”

We must keep “pure minds of remembrance” and accept that the Lord does answer our prayers, but may not answer them in the way we want, just as happened with Jesus Himself when He LITERALLY PRAYED to God the Father for His cup to pass from Him.

Mat 26:39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Mat 26:41  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mat 26:42  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Jesus prayed this TWICE! Do you think we are any stronger than He is? No, we are not, but Peter does leave us with this encouragement, and this is also what I leave with this study:

2Pe 3:1  This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2Pe 3:2  That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
2Pe 3:3  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
2Pe 3:4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
2Pe 3:5  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
2Pe 3:6  Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
2Pe 3:7  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2Pe 3:8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2Pe 3:13  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
2Pe 3:14  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

We need to be “found of Him in peace” within the single mind of Christ while shedding the doubleminded man that so easily ensnares us.

Other related posts