“Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord.” Numbers 31:16
The Israelites experienced the Lord’s judgment for following the Midianites after engaging in sin against the Lord. The Israelites were fully responsible for their willful disobedience and as a result, 24,000 died in the plague. The plague against Israel was to signify the consequences of rebellion against the Lord and it served as a reminder of the Lord’s holiness and His great disdain against sin. The Lord in His great mercy, warned the Israelites numerous times of idolatry and rebellion; however, the Israelites succumbed to the temptation and turned away from the Lord.
We recall in Numbers 22 and 23, Balak hired Balaam, a diviner, to curse the Israelites because he feared their increasing population. Balak presumed that because the Israelites engaged in wars, defeated other leaders, and conquered their territory, that soon he would also be conquered. After Balaam’s encounter with the angel of the Lord, he spoke to Balak as though he feared the Lord and that he would only do and only speak what the Lord instructed. We later read that at the counsel of Balaam, the Midianites led the Israelites to sin against the Lord. The Lord then instructed Moses to engage in war against Midian for the purpose of executing the Lord’s holy anger and to restore honor among the people.
As the Lord’s vengeance was carried out towards the Midianites, we are able to see the Lord’s holiness and His desire to protect His own by enacting judicial punishment towards those that lead others into sin. Balaam, who devised the scheme to lure the Israelites into idolatry and immortality, as well as the Midianites who followed his instructions, died because of their actions. Balaam and the Midianites’ sinful choices show us that those who not only rebel in sin against the Lord will face His wrath, but also those who lead others into sin will experience His judgment.
We all influence others and can be influenced by others in some way. The Israelites were influenced by the Midianites and were responsible for their choice to sin against the Lord. The Midianites were influenced by Balaam and were responsible for their sinful enticement of the Israelites. Balaam was influenced, and yielded to creating the plot to entice the Israelites and was responsible for his sinful influence. Each individual was punished by the Lord’s wrath for his or her responsibility and choice to sin.
Think of your influence upon others. Do you lead them to Christ, or do you lead them towards rebellion against Christ? Think about how you are being influenced by others. Are you being influenced to love Christ more, or are you being influenced to love what the Lord hates? You are responsible for your decisions and the consequences that follow will be based upon your choices. As you think about the power of influence, choose to lead and be led to love and honor the Lord in all that you think, say, and do and always influence others to do the same.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,