Old Testament: Numbers 30:1-31:54
Numbers 30:1-16 The Vow
This is not the movie starring Rachel McAdams but it does have to do with women’s vows. Women’s vows were included in Leviticus 27 but are detailed here. Men are mentioned only in verse two and only as a contrast to the women’s vows. Men’s vows can not be retracted though a woman’s vows could be retracted under certain circumstances. Vows promised by an unmarried daughter living with her parents could be invalidated by her father Num. 30: 3-5). The vow of a married woman could be nullified by her husband (Nu. 30: 6-8). Widows and divorced women’s vows were inviolate (Num. 30:9).
Numbers 31: 1-16 The Midian Way
The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:2). Moses later married a Midianite, Zipporah. The Midianites over time had degenerated into just another pagan tribe. Yahweh sent Moses with a thousand soldiers from each tribe to exterminate the Midianites. The women and children were spared (Num. 30:9) at first. Later Moses had all the women who were not virgins slaughtered (Num. 30: 17, 18) as well as all the male children. The reason was that the Midianites had infiltrated the Israelites previously with their immorality (Num. 30:6 cf. Num. 25:16-18). This was a holy war characterized by the leading of the Lord Himself, the priest, Phinehas, and the holy articles (Nu. 30: 6). According to the rules of holy war, all the women should have been slain (cf. Deut. 20:16-18; Josh. 6:15-19) but only those who possibly could have been involved in the incident of Peor were killed. Moses was actually being gracious. The idea was to squelch another incident of the same kind. Balaam who prayed that he could die with the righteous (Nu. 23: 10) apparently was not repentant over his involvement with the donkey. He was offed along with five unrighteous Midiante kings (Nu. 23:10). The cities were burnt to the ground. This pictures the future judgment when the Judge of the whole earth (Gen. 18:25, Pss. 94: 2, 96: 13, 98:9) will send those who reject Him to eternal punishment. Since this was a holy war, everything had to be purified in clouding the soldiers (Num. 31:19-20) and things (Nu. 31: 21-25). Remember there were provisions in the law regarding dead bodies (Nu. 19: 11-13).
Numbers 31: 25-54 Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake Your . . .
The soldiers were not allowed to keep all the fruit of their victory. They had confiscated over eight hundred thousand animals and over a million dollars in gold (cf. Liberty Bible Commentary). The soldiers were to share the spoil with those who had stayed in the camp (Num. 30:26, 27). David later made this policy a law (1 Sam. 30:24-25).
New Testament: Luke 4:1-30
Luke 4:1-13 The Temptation of Jesus
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and was led around by the same Spirit for forty days. He was being “tempted” by the devil but the word for “tempted” is the same as the word for “tested.” The devil was trying to throw Jesus off course. Jesus came to bring the kingdom. Satan tried to undermine the process by causing Jesus to sin. The temptations can be categorized according to John’s warning to us in 1 John 2:14,15. Satan offers the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” In this case, Satan offered bread, appealing to Jesus’ bodily needs and hunger (“flesh”) after forty days of fasting. He offered all the kingdoms of the world, the “lust of the eyes.” Finally, he tried Jesus at the point of His relationship with God by tempting Him to use His powers apart from God’s approval, the “pride of life.”
As our model, Jesus squelched the temptations each time with Scripture (Deut. 8:3, 6:16, 10:20). We, too, should know Scripture well enough to thwart the devil. The devil absconded but only until he could attack Him at a more advantageous time.
Luke 4:14-30 A Local Sendoff
People were already talking about Jesus at the time He returned to Galilee. He was teaching in the local synagogues found in all the small towns. One day He got up to read Isaiah (Is. 61: 1-2a) and it was obvious He was applying it to Himself (Luke 4:18-19) when He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). They all gave Jesus a standing ovation . . . well, in the sense they all stood up and attempted to clap their hands on Him to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29).
Jesus had said a prophet was not respected in his own hometown. He cited two Old Testment stories of prophets helping non-Jews (1 Kings 17:1-15; 2 Kings 5:1-14). This further angered the crowd.
Mark states that Jesus was awestruck by their lack of belief and could not do any miracles there (Mark 6:5,6). He just walked away from them.