TODAY’S READING: Numbers 25–27
There are both external and internal threats to God’s mission. Unfortunately, the internal attacks often prove as effective as the external. The external threat to God’s people and plan was Balaam’s curse. God neutralized that attack and even turned it into a blessing. We know from Numbers 31:1–16, however, that Balaam slyly used sexual temptation to do from within what he failed to do from without.
In short order, the Israelites began to “commit harlotry with the women of Moab” (Num. 25:1), to bow down to their gods (v. 2), and arouse the fierce anger of God (v. 3). “The Israelites who joined in the feast not only ate the sacrifice, but also ‘bowed down’ to the Moabite gods (25:2). The men had not just gone along with the women for sexual favors and a free meal; rather they had joined the local cult…. For worshipping gods other than Israel’s God, the punishment was death (25:4) leaving the corpses of the offenders exposed was a practice used also by the Assyrian armies. It both disgraced the dead and served as a warning to other.” So disgusting was this mess of sexual immorality and spiritual idolatry, Moses ordered the offenders to be hung in the sun (v. 4). The people wept in shame and sorrow (v. 6). All, but one. One Israelite was unrepentant, in fact, explicitly perverse, and so Eleazar ran him and his Moabite partner through with a spear, stopping the plague (vv. 6–9).
God will always (eventually) bring sexual sin into the light, for sexual sin is an especial threat to the mission of God. God wants to dwell with His people, and His covenant requires a holy people. When sexual sins are not dealt with violently (quickly, openly, decisively, severely), they tend to spread. When sexual sin spreads, God will not dwell with or bless His people. When God does not bless His people, the nations become disadvantaged. Sexual sin in God’s people, in His church, has a domino effect that negatively affects missions. And God actively attacks all that adversely affects missions, whether that enemy is a seductive prophet or a sensual priest.
God is so grieved when women are seen as objects rather than as equal partners in His great redemption plan. Not a man who resisted God’s plan to possess Canaan remained (26:64), but those men had daughters. They appealed to Moses to be given a possession with their brothers (27:1–4). Moses consulted God, only to be reminded that the Lord is God of the spirits of all flesh, and He wants all men and all women to have a part in His plan. Some of the best missionaries in history have been women; some of the best missionaries today are women. God seeks men and women marked with His spirit (v. 18). He wants them to live in purity. He wants them to demonstrate to the men and women of Saudi Arabia that women are not objects, but are cherished as equal partners in the great plan of God. Let all men and women stand guard that God’s mission does not survive external curses only to be felled by internal perversity.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 177.