In Deuteronomy 4.3-4, the children of Israel are given a bit more of a history lesson, to function as a reminder of the past and of whatever spiritual and practical truths that they ideally should learn from it.
Read Numbers 25:1-15. What happened, and what spiritual and practical truths should the people have taken from this fiasco?
However uncomfortable we are with the stories of Israel’s wiping out some of the pagan nations around them, this account certainly helps in explaining the logic behind the command. Israel was to be a witness to the pagan nations around them of the true God — the only God. They were to be an example to show what worship of the true God was like. Instead, by adhering to the pagan “gods” around them, they often fell into outright rebellion against the very God whom they were to represent to the world.
Though the phrase to “commit harlotry” often has a spiritual meaning, in that Israel went after pagan gods and practices (see Hosea 4:12-14), in this case the language (and the rest of the story) suggests that there was sexual sinning, at least at first. Here again, Satan took advantage of fallen human nature, using the pagan women to seduce the men, who obviously allowed themselves to be seduced.
No doubt, the act of physical harlotry degenerated into spiritual harlotry, as well. The people involved eventually got caught up in pagan worship practices in which Israel was “joined to Baal of Peor;” that is, they somehow became attached to this false god and even sacrificed to it. Despite everything they had been taught and told, they were willing to throw it all away in the heat of passion and lust.
How could this have happened? Easily. By hardening their consciences with the first sin, the physical one, they were ripe for falling into the latter one, the spiritual one, which must have been Satan’s ultimate goal. They had become so debased that, according to the text, one man brought his Midianite woman right into the camp itself, right before Moses, and before the people who were weeping outside the tabernacle.
|Our minds and bodies are intimately linked. What affects one affects the other. What can we learn from this story about how dangerous the indulgence can be to us spiritually?|