Setting the stage for Cozbi
The saga of Cozbi occurs during the last year of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. The magnificent promises of the land of corn and wine are on their immediate horizon. The generation that trembled in fear at the inhabitants of Canaan (Numbers 13, 14), has now been replaced by a generation that seems, not only fearless, but fraternizing with the riotous people of Canaan. Balaam, a Midianite seer, but one through whom Jehovah spoke to the Midianites, has desired and pleaded with God for permission to prophesy against Israel and favorably toward his sister nation Moab. God’s anger had been kindled against Baalam (Numbers 22:22) because he went with the princes of Moab to meet with their king who had courted his favor by promising him great honor if he would only curse Israel. God had powerfully shown through a talking donkey (Numbers 22:22-35) that his proposed alliance with Moab against Israel was potentially destructive for him and the lands of Moab and Midian.
But Israel should have heard the donkey’s message, too. In Numbers 25:1-3, we see that while God was blessing Israel and cursing her enemies, Israel herself was busy making sinful alliances with the very nations God was cursing.
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 Baal–peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
First, the men of Israel began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. Even casual observation by anyone who does counseling shows that sexual sin binds with cords stronger than any other sin (Read Proverbs 5 and note particularly vs. 22). Men are often willing to forfeit their homes, children, relationships with parents, fellowship with godly people, and jobs in order to continue an illicit sexual relationship. Fornication and adultery have even caused men to verbally admit that they are willing to be lost in hell eternally in order to continue in this sin. As one man I know put it, “If my relationship with her is going to keep me out of heaven, I’d rather have my heaven now.” I wonder if this person also believes he will schedule his own personal itinerary for hell, as well.
Secondly, the people became involved in the idolatry of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods (Numbers 25:2).
The devil is very busy getting his propaganda about safe sex to your children. He uses school courses, organizations like Planned Parenthood and centers for disease control. He leans heavily on mass media: television, movies, CDs , and the internet. He does it most powerfully through peers. It will not be an accident if my children remain pure until entering God-approved marriages. It will be a product of several factors including prayer, instruction, time, discipline and Bible study.
Once sexually involved with Moab, the Israelites were only a short step away from idolatry. Though 21st century idols in America are not statues of stone or carvings of wood, they nonetheless pull allegiance from Jehovah, giving it to whatever the godless society worships. Most often today the gods are materialism (Col. 3:5), sexual pleasure (Rom. 1:23,24), and entertainment (II Tim. 3:4).
It is interesting to note that it was contextually the MEN in verse one who were committing whoredom. But it was the PEOPLE in verse two who were bowing to the gods of the Moabites. Sin grows proportionally in severity and scope. When fathers fall to Satan, their families are often close behind them.
Third, Israel was JOINED to Baal-Peor.
And Israel joined himself unto Baal–peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel (vs.3).
God’s response to this joining was extreme anger.
…and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal–peor (vs.3b-5).
Let all know that He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). 24,000 lives were required before Cozbi came on the scene and through a series of events, the plague was stayed.