BIBLE STUDY SERIES #413, 414 and 415

17 October, 1999

NATIONAL VOWS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the children of those who failed forty years before to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance, are being readied to claim it now, under the directives of The Almighty Whose covenant it was to fulfil the matter.

Before actually entering The Promised Land, Moses was to review God's teaching for the people of Israel in matters such as feast days and other national obligations under His Law. We saw, in Numbers 30, that The Almighty requires of His people, that a vow, freely entered with a full understanding of consequences, when made, must be performed, even to the detriment of the one who makes the agreement. I believe that it is in that context, incidentally, that we can best understand the words of Our Lord in Matthew 5:33-37:

33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

That principle of honest dealing, when giving one's word, once established within the thinking of the generality of the populace, will generate confidence in relationships and agreements, both private and public. It is one aspect of God's Old Testament Law which concerned one's neighbour, found in Leviticus 19:18 in the words: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It may come as a surprise to some, who see themselves as "New Testament Christians" who dismiss the Old Testament Laws as instruction for a bygone age long since superseded by The Cross, to realise that this is, in fact, an Old Testament law which Christ quoted in Matthew 19:19. The Old Testament Laws are still applicable today. It is a mistake to assume that they no longer apply. They are statements conveying God's loving provision for regulation and good order within His Kingdom.

Dismissal of the values of honesty and the related sense of fair dealing in matters of covenant leads, by stages, directly to the fostering of a selfishness which throws the sense of any obligation to love one's neighbour into the rubbish heap, for in truth, one's "love", as a Christian is, and can only be, strictly defined and expressed through observance of those very Old Testament "laws" given by God which some seek to dismiss as outdated. Breakdown in society follows, and we see today, the results of that policy within our own neighbourhoods.

Today, within the context of modern politics and government generally, we are beset with many stresses within our society which arise through the dismissal of that principle, as if it were irrelevant. Eventually, such an attitude of mind breeds contempt for honest dealers and views holders of the principle as naive. Lies are accepted as the normal expectation among electorates in such a democracy. Such an outcome eventually frustrates all attempts by voters to choose the direction which governmental leaders will follow during their forthcoming term of office.

Isaiah 59 gives us prophetically some basic truths which we might well use as our meditation for the coming week:

1. Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
3. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
4. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
5. They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.
6. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
7. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
8. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
9. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
10. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
11. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
12. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
13. In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
14. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
15. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
16. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.
18. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.
19. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
20. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
21. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

That is quite a summary, and quite a prophetic promise! One of the aspects of society in a multi-cult environment is the crumbling of the moral fibre of the people. If a people stand united in their commitment to a religious verity, they will, both as individuals, and collectively as a national entity, see that the standard of conduct upheld by that commitment remains as a common link and an agreed bond or vow which is required to be sustained among all its members. Where on the other hand, there is an alien infusion of a religiously diverse nature combined with the pervasive inculcating of antagonistic teaching regarding "One-World" (without Christ as King), there will eventually be either strife of a most violent nature within the populace, or else the principle of tolerance for those whose values are guided by a multi-cult "faith" will eventually lead to oppression of those who refuse on religious grounds to go along with the alien creed sweeping the masses, because they refuse to yield their nation which belongs to Our LORD to the Satanic substitute. The whole topic becomes particularly important as God views the vows which false leaders of His people collectively have made today, to bind themselves into a system of inexorably increasing debt slavery as a part of an oppressive financial system, which is directly opposed by His Laws. As Isaiah 28:15-18 puts it:

15. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
17. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

In an earlier day, when Biblical Scriptures were commonly accepted as true, such principles were well understood. Today, those whose philosophy has been bent to a corrupt ignorance of basic truth have been persuaded that it is more important to "live together in harmony" with lies, than to uphold the structure of ancient truth within the national entity. The next two chapters in the Book of Numbers deal with aspects of this danger in ancient Israel, and convey classic examples of the truth to us today.

24 October, 1999

AGAINST MIDIAN

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the children of those Israelites who failed forty years before to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance, are being readied to claim it now, under the directives of The Almighty Whose Covenant it was to fulfil the matter.

Before actually entering The Promised Land, Moses was to review God's teaching for the people of Israel in matters such as feast days and other national obligations under God's Law. We saw, in Numbers 30, that The Almighty requires of His people, that a vow, freely entered with a full understanding of consequences, once made, must be performed, even to the detriment of the one who makes the agreement. We saw that the establishment of a total commitment to God's Laws regarding covenant and truth, when broken, leads to grave dangers for the whole people, for the corruption which follows permits cheating and strife to afflict the whole body of that nation. In Israel's case, the nation had undertaken a Covenant, to be the national "wife" of God. In truth, God is the "husband" of the nation of Israel, and if we be Israel's descendants, as is the understanding of our British-Israel-World Federation, then certain obligations follow directly upon such a commitment.

We now approach Numbers 31, a Chapter in which a war against the Midianites is ordered by God, in retribution for the disastrous results of their planned subversion of Israel to their false gods, and for the consequent deadly punishment upon Israel by Israel's God, for succumbing to the sexual temptations and religious treason attending the seductions offered by those Midianites.

The reading of our Scripture portion for today will follow some words of introduction offered by Keil and Delitzsch, and The New Bible Commentary. Keil and Delitzsch note of verses 1-12 "The Campaign", that "After the people of Israel had been mustered as the army of Jehovah, and their future relation to the Lord had been firmly established by the order of sacrifice that was given to them immediately afterwards, the Lord commanded Moses to carry out that hostility to the Midianites which had already been commanded in chap. xxv. 16-18. Moses was to revenge (i.e. to execute) the revenge of the children of Israel upon the Midianites, and then to be gathered to his people, i.e. to die, as had already been revealed to him (chap. xxvii. 13). 'The revenge of the children of Israel' was revenge for the wickedness which the tribes of the Midianites who dwelt on the east of Moab (see at chap. xxii. 4) had practiced upon the Israelites, by seducing them to the idolatrous worship of Baal Peor. This revenge is called the 'revenge of Jehovah' in ver. 3, because the seduction had violated the divinity and honour of Jehovah. The daughters of Moab had also taken part in the seduction (chap. xxv. 1, 2); but they had done so at the instigation of the Midianites..., and not of their own accord, and therefore the Midianites only were to atone for the wickedness."

The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "XIX. Vengeance on the Midianites. xxxi. 1-54", states: "This chapter looks back to the terrible harm done to Israel by the Midianite seduction, but also looks ahead to the destruction of the Canaanites. The defilement and wickedness of the Midianites constituted a source of infection which was bound to destroy the testimony of Israel if allowed to continue. God might have wiped them out by pestilence, or by some natural calamity. Instead He chose to use the Israelites as His instrument for this purpose. Again we should note that their action was specifically commanded by the Lord (2) and should beware of taking it as warrant for any action on our part which does not have a similar divine revelation. While it is, of course, not inconceivable that a particular situation might be strikingly analogous to this one, we should remember that there is rarely, if ever, a particular group of God's people whose preservation is as vital to His programme as was that of the Israelites in Moses' time. It is all too easy to be influenced by selfish motives, and thus to be led to use God's glory as an excuse, when it is not the real reason at all. A mistake at this point can easily make an individual or a nation actually guilty of murder. Hence, although the Israelites were justified (in fact required) to destroy this branch of the Midianites, it is necessary to be extremely cautious in securing from it a warrant for any similar activity today." That having been said, let us now approach the Scripture portion itself, Numbers 31:1-54. We shall be taking segments with comments inserted along the way.

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.
3. And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian.
4. Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.
5. So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.
6. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.
7. And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
8. And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
9. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
10. And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
11. And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
12. And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.

The Companion Bible notes that, in verse 6, the "trumpets = alarm trumpets, which were also prayer trumpets." and at verse 11, that the word "prey = booty" and that this is the first occurrence of the word, which, it states, is "Always used of animated prey."

13. And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
14. And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
15. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
16. Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
17. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
18. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

The New Bible Commentary explains "Verses 1-12 describe the attack. Evidently the group of Midianites involved was not particularly large, for Moses sent only 12,000 men against them (4-5). After the list of slain kings of Midian, Balaam is mentioned (8; cf. Jos. xiii. 21-22). His wish to 'die the death of the righteous' (xxiii. 10) was not fulfilled. After speaking the word of God he must have remained in the neighbourhood to see if he could find another way to get the reward Balak had offered. The plague described in xxv had come as a result of his evil suggestion (16), but he received only death for his pains. When Moses met the returning warriors, he expressed anger that the Midianite women had been spared (13-16) and gave very severe instructions (17-18). The women were the cause of the evil done to Israel. They had willingly lent themselves as agents for Israel's destruction. It would have been absurd to punish the men and spare the women. The harsh directions were intended only for the present instance, where female wickedness had been the cause of such terrible harm to Israel. Cf. Dt. xxi. 10-14."

The whole episode speaks of a time of firmness which The Almighty knew to be necessary in order to preserve the integrity of His relationship with, not only those children of Israel in that ancient time, but of His relationship with all of humanity which was to extend down to our own time and beyond. For this reason, the attack upon the moral integrity of those Israelites was an attack upon the whole of subsequent humanity which would come to Himself through the Biblical prophetic outworking of His Plan. All was here placed in the balances of justice. All would be corrupted if Israel was permitted to be lax with those who had planned their destruction through Balaam's advice. That advice had been designed to draw down God's wrath upon His Own nation of Israel to destroy it, and therewith God's plan for the redemption of humanity in the centuries yet to be played out upon the stage of history. We shall leave the remainder of Numbers 31 for our next Study.

31 October, 1999

AGAINST MIDIAN - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the children of those Israelites who failed forty years before to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance, are being readied to claim it now, under the directives of The Almighty Whose Covenant it was to fulfil the matter.

Before actually entering The Promised Land, Moses was to review God's teaching for the people of Israel in matters such as national obligations under God's Law. We saw, in Numbers 30, that The Almighty requires of His people, that a vow, freely entered with a full understanding of consequences, once made, must be performed, even to the detriment of the one who makes the agreement. We saw that the establishment of a total commitment to God's Laws regarding covenant and truth, when broken, leads to grave dangers for the whole people, for the corruption which follows permits cheating and strife to afflict the whole body of that nation. In Israel's case, the nation had undertaken a Covenant, to be the national "wife" of God. In truth, God is the "husband" of the nation of Israel, and if we be Israel's descendants, as is the understanding of our British-Israel-World Federation, then certain obligations for ourselves follow directly upon such a commitment.

On our last study, we had begun to examine Numbers 31, a Chapter in which a war against the Midianites is ordered by God, in retribution for the disastrous results of their planned subversion of Israel to their false gods, and for the consequent deadly punishment upon Israel by Israel's God, for succumbing to the sexual temptations and religious treason attending the seductions offered by those Midianites.

We had read some comments by Keil and Delitzsch, and some found in The New Bible Commentary pertaining to this chapter, and we had read the Scripture portion itself down as far as verse 18. Therein we had learned of the order given by The Almighty God to Israel to go to war against those Midianites who had been responsible for that religious defection by a number of Israelites to the false gods of Midian and of Moab. Before the new nation of Israel had even entered upon the Promised Land, which was in prospect, they had already begun to fail the test by seduction, and where might it end when the Israelites had entered upon that Canaanitish countryside in which the temptations would be multiplied? God had to move in direct action to stem the threat because, had He not done so, the whole future of the contributions which were to flow through that people descended from Jacob-Israel to the whole world down through millennia of subsequent history would be cut off before the process had got fully under-way.

In those first eighteen verses of Numbers 31, we had found the account of the actual operation and we saw that success had attended the military aspects to this point. The orders given by God through Moses to the leaders of the army had not, however, at first been effectively completed, as we observed, for the whole point of this small war was to eliminate entirely the contaminating threat of the seductive sexual charms and diversions which the women of the Midianite tribe in particular had woven in the minds of those Israelites who had been aroused to their allure. A number of the men of Israel had already perished, being punished by death for their folly in accepting the seductive liaisons with those women of Midian who had been more than willing to insure that their sexual diseases, both moral and physical, were fully and effectively transmitted to the Israelite men, and hence to the entire nation of God's National Wife with disastrous consequences. This was a deadly game, and definitely not a casual liaison of the night. Thus the Israelites were to carry out the revenge attack upon Midian, for that which the women of that tribe had both planned and carried out was not the establishment of friendly relations with the Israelite men, but rather a fully planned entrapment with the total aim of bringing about their deaths.

Keil and Delitzsch remark that "To carry out this revenge, Moses had 1000 men of each tribe delivered ... from the families ... of the tribes, and equipped for war; and these he sent to the army (into the war) along with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the high priest, who carried the holy vessels, viz. the alarm-trumpets, in his hand. Phinehas was attached to the army, not as the leader of the soldiers, but as the high priest with the holy trumpets (chap. x. 9), because the war was a holy war of the congregation against the enemies of themselves and their God. Phinehas had so distinguished himself by the zeal which he had displayed against the idolaters (chap. xxv. 7), that it was impossible to find any other name in all the priesthood to attach to the army, who would equal him in holy zeal, or be equally qualified to inspire the army with zeal for the holy conflict. 'The holy vessels' cannot mean the ark of the covenant on account of the plural, which would be inapplicable to it; nor the Urim and Thummim, because Phinehas was not yet high priest... ."

They continue: "Of the campaign itself, the results are all that is recorded. No doubt it terminated with a great battle, in which the Midianites were taken unawares and completely routed. As it was a war of vengeance of Jehovah, the victors slew all the males, i.e. all the adult males, as the sequel shows, without quarter; and ... the five Midianitish kings and Balaam ... ." Explaining that the women and children had been taken captive, along with cattle, flocks and goods as spoil, they note that, as those five kings of Midian were vassals of Sihon, the Amorite king, who had taken the north of Moab, with its settlements, the Midianites might have dwelt in these. This is confirmed in Joshua 13:21.

When Israel took the possession of Sihon, king of Amorites, then, they gathered within that possession the north of the land of Moab, which was thus inhabited, and the account in Joshua completes the history here begun. As it was those women of Midian who had most directly been responsible for the deaths of Israelite men through the worship of Baal Peor, these among the captives were also slain, along with all the males, leaving only those females of Midian who had not lain with a man alive.

We shall now continue with the reading of the Scripture passage found in Numbers 31 which details the ceremonial cleansing of those who had to carry out the matter.

19. And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.
20. And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood.
21. And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;
22. Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,
23. Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.
24. And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.

The New Bible Commentary notes "The soldiers had to remain outside the camp for seven days. Even though the slaying was done at God's direct command, those who had participated in it had to be cleansed, since a sharp line must always be drawn between the taking of human life and any normal activities (19-24; cf. notes on Nu. v. 1-4). It was also necessary to cleanse all the plunder, both for ceremonial and for sanitary reasons. Whatever was not inflammable must be cleansed by fire. All of it had to be thoroughly washed (22-24). Verses 25-54 describe the apportionment of the plunder. The mathematical details of the system of division are interesting and fair to all (27-47)."

We shall consider further on the next Study. There are aspects of this account which may seem somewhat vicious to people in our own time, who are, in matters of religious beliefs, political beliefs and economic beliefs more particularly persuaded towards an overall policy of tolerance towards anyone and everyone else, no matter what their diversions and perversions might be. To such culturally robbed individuals, the dismissal of whatever remains of their own cultural heritage of past beliefs is taught to be of no ultimate consequence, and they are persuaded by those holding differing cultural norms that there is no consequence to be feared in relinquishing fealty, in particular, towards the God of the Bible because He is not the object of worship by some others who might be offended by an insistence on the upholding by the nation of such fealty.

We shall have more to say on this subject in the next study. The whole topic becomes particularly important where God promises to over-rule the vows which His people collectively have made today, to bind themselves into a system of inexorably increasing debt slavery as a part of a totally unrighteous and illegal financial system.

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