Numbers 31 tells us about the war that the Israelites had with the Midianites. We read in verses 1-3, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. 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.”

Vengeance was required by the Lord upon the Midianites because they had corrupted the Lord’s people by influencing them to sin. We read in Numbers 25:1-3, “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to COMMIT WHOREDOM with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the SACRIFICES OF THEIR GODS: and the people did eat, and BOWED DOWN TO THEIR GODS. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.” Now, in Numbers 31, we have the day of reckoning, even as ALL sin will have its day of reckoning at the Great White Throne judgment.

Moses sent 12,000 men into battle against the Midianites (Numbers 31:4-5). Verse 8 shows us that the Israelites killed the kings of Midian, along with other people, including Balaam. We read specifically of Balaam’s crime in Revelation 2:14, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” We just read about this behavior in Numbers 25:1-3. In verse 7 of our chapter, we see that the Israelites “slew all the males.” Yet, verse 9 tells us, “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.” Besides the cattle, flocks, and their belongings, the people spared the lives of the women and children.

When the children of Israel presented their spoils to Moses and Eleazar the priest, Moses became very angry because they had spared the lives of the women and children. Let’s now read Numbers 31:15-18, “And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 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. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” At times, it would have been correct to only kill the men among their enemies. We read in Deuteronomy 20:13-14, “And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt SMITE EVERY MALE thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.” While the men were to be killed, the women and children were to be spared.

The punishment of the Midianites was different. As we just read, these were the women who caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD. This sinister crime called for extraordinary consequences. The Israelites were commanded to kill all the young boys and all the ladies that were not virgins. Only the female children of the Midianites were spared by the Lord. This would ensure the demise of the Midianites as a race. There were no males to carry on the lineage.

From this event, we learn that in due time, all sin will be judged by God. For mankind today, many live without Christ as their savior. They look for pleasure in the world that hated and rejected our savior. The day is coming that mankind will be made to answer for their sins. Yet, how precious it will be for those who know the Lord and labor on His behalf to hear those blessed words from the lips of their savior, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Where do you stand? Do you stand as a rebellious sinner against our blessed savior, or do you stand with Christ as one of His? (230.8)