Select Wisdom Brand

Justice—A Double-Edged Sword

Numbers 31:1-3
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian.”

Take Numbers 31:1-3 as a commission to arm yourselves for battle as well, friend. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” said our Lord, and you’ll need armaments of divine wisdom to make it through the trenches of this exegesis victoriously. The saint who breezes through the slain bodies of Midianites piled up behind the lines of Numbers 31 is not a carefree believer but a calloused one. It isn’t an easy task ahead. It doesn’t feel good to watch godly men execute men, women, and children at the command of the LORD. But is it right? That’s the pertinent question. Satan loves to hurl Scriptures like these at defenseless Christians and mock, “Aha—see! Has the LORD really said? Surely He can’t have!”, which, if we take the bait, will lead us into another rendition of the fall of man all over again.

One thing is clear from Numbers 31:1-3 and it’s this: no matter how severely it reads on paper, God’s justice is pure and consistent. In fact, He already punished His own people for their idolatry, when they not only fornicated and adulterated with the Midianite women but joined them in worshipping Baal of Peor. He sent a sulfuric sword against the rebels, joined by a purging plague, and wiped out the criminals from the face of the commonwealth. So why then should He let these idolatrous, demon-worshipping perpetrators who lured the Israeli men in the first place get away with it? If idolatry is evil for one image-bearing man or woman, it’s evil for all, right? Therefore, whether we wish to read it or not, whether we wish the Spirit had led us to Isaiah 11 or Psalm 23 or John 3:16 today instead, what we’re witnessing here is justice in its most sweeping, unwavering, unrelenting form.

Numbers 31 is a cold-as-steel reminder that the wages of sin really is death, whether that death comes slowly at the hands of time or swiftly at the hands of a mighty warrior.