Devotional Thought for Today
“Be on Guard”
“Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the chiefs of the congregation went to meet them outside the camp. 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. 15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 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. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves. 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. 20 You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.”
Do you remember the story of the Trojan Horse? After a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war. Troy didn’t lose the battle to the Greeks because of an overwhelming force; they lost because they let their guard down.
In this passage, the Israelites were commanded to fight the Midianites. The Lord commanded Moses to command the Israelites to kill every male but keep the plunder. However, the Israelite commanders took captive the Midianite women and brought them before Moses. Moses was furious with their decision and said, “Have you let all the women live? 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” (vv. 15-16).
Why did Moses become so angry? What happened at Peor? In Numbers 25:1-9, King Balak of Moab wanted to defeat the Israelites, so he invited Balaam to curse them. However, Balaam could only do what the Lord commanded him to say. Four times Balaam blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them—and Balak was furious! However, Balaam told Balak that the only way to defeat the Israelites was for them to worship other idols.
Therefore, King Balak went with a different approach and invited the Israelites to feast with them. At the end of the feast, the Moabite women invited the Israelites to sleep with them as a way of worshipping Baal. Slowly, the Israelite men fell into temptation and the Lord brought judgement upon them.
What the Israelites saw as harmless women, Moses saw them as potential temptations for the Israelites. In the same way, the Lord is reminding us that we must guard our hearts with different temptations in our lives. There are many things in this world that may seem harmless, but they can be incredibly hurtful to us—it could be relationships that lead to pre-martial sex, social media, alcohol, money, or power. Again, these things may not be sin, but they can be sneaky temptations that cause us to become ineffective Christians. For instance, we would not walk into a temple to offer incense to Buddha or our ancestors, for those sins are obvious and we know to avoid those. But the “harmless” things that sneak into our hearts are the sins that we need to be on guard against.
This morning, reflect on the “harmless” things that you feel can be potential temptations. Maybe God is inviting you to stop dealing with these things for a season. Ask the Lord to give you strength to put these things down. Our souls are too precious to let “harmless” things turn us into ineffective Christians.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are always watching over us. Thank You that we are secure in our salvation, yet we have many blind spots in our lives. Many things may appear harmless, but they can lead us to sin against You. Lord, help me to be like Moses and be strict with what I let into my life. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 29
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 4:6-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Questions to Consider
- When we are faced with anxiety or temptations, what does Paul encourage us to do?
- What will guard our hearts and minds against these attacks?
- What is the significance of the phrase “in Christ Jesus”?
- In the midst of anxiety and temptations, Paul commands us to ask the Lord for help with a thankful heart. While this may be a simple truth, it is difficult to do this when things are going wrong. However, Paul reminds us that God will hear us.
- Paul says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. This is significant in two ways: First, we will know that this comes from God because it is a peace that we can’t comprehend. Second, Paul doesn’t say that God will “fix” our issues, but He will guarantee peace to face these issues.
- “In Christ Jesus” signifies our identity in Christ. We can only have access to this “surpassing all understanding” peace when we are God’s children.
This evening, spend some time with the Lord and invite Him to reveal any blind spots in your life (you may also call a small group member and ask them). Write these blind spots down and ask the Lord to help you work through them.