Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 40

Numbers 24–27, 1 Corinthians 7–8

Bible text(s)

1By now Balaam knew that the LORD wanted him to bless the people of Israel, so he did not go to look for omens, as he had done before. He turned towards the desert 2and saw the people of Israel camped tribe by tribe. The Spirit of God took control of him, 3and he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

4Who can hear what God is saying.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

5The tents of Israel are beautiful,

6Like long rows of palms

Or gardens beside a river,

Like aloes planted by the LORD

Or cedars beside the water.

7They will have abundant rainfall

And plant their seed in well-watered fields.

Their king shall be greater than Agag,

And his rule shall be extended far and wide.

8God brought them out of Egypt;

He fights for them like a wild ox.

They devour their enemies,

Crush their bones, smash their arrows.

9The nation is like a mighty lion;

When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.

Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,

And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.”

10Balak clenched his fists in anger and said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, but three times now you have blessed them instead. 11Now go off home! I promised to reward you, but the LORD has kept you from getting the reward.”

12Balaam answered, “I told the messengers you sent to me that 13even if you gave me all the silver and gold in your palace, I could not disobey the command of the LORD by doing anything of myself. I will say only what the LORD tells me to say.”

Balaam's Final Prophecies

14Balaam said to Balak, “Now I am going back to my own people, but before I go, I am warning you what the people of Israel will do to your people in the future.” 15Then he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

16Who can hear what God is saying

And receive the knowledge that comes from the Most High.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

17I look into the future,

And I see the nation of Israel.

A king, like a bright star, will arise in that nation.

Like a comet he will come from Israel.

He will strike the leaders of Moab

And beat down all the people of Seth.

18He will conquer his enemies in Edom

And make their land his property,

While Israel continues victorious.

19The nation of Israel will trample them down

And wipe out the last survivors.”

20Then in his vision Balaam saw the Amalekites and uttered this prophecy:

“Amalek was the most powerful nation of all,

But at the end it will perish for ever.”

21In his vision he saw the Kenites, and uttered this prophecy:

“The place where you live is secure,

Safe as a nest set high on a cliff,

22But you Kenites will be destroyed

When Assyria takes you captive.”

23Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Who are these people gathering in the north?

24Invaders will sail from Cyprus;

They will conquer Assyria and Eber,

But they, in turn, will perish for ever.”

25Then Balaam got ready and went back home, and Balak went on his way.

Numbers 24GNBOpen in Bible reader

The People of Israel at Peor

1When the Israelites were camped in the Valley of Acacia, the men began to have sexual intercourse with the Moabite women who were there. 2These women invited them to sacrificial feasts, where the god of Moab was worshipped. The Israelites ate the food and worshipped the god 3Baal of Peor. So the LORD was angry with them 4and said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of Israel and, in obedience to me, execute them in broad daylight, and then I will no longer be angry with the people.” 5Moses said to the officials, “Each of you is to kill every man in your tribe who has become a worshipper of Baal of Peor.”

6One of the Israelites took a Midianite woman into his tent in the sight of Moses and the whole community, while they were mourning at the entrance of the Tent of the LORD's presence. 7When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest, saw this, he got up and left the assembly. He took a spear, 8followed the man and the woman into the tent, and drove the spear through both of them. In this way the epidemic that was destroying Israel was stopped, 9but it had already killed 24,000 people.

10The LORD said to Moses, 11“Because of what Phinehas has done, I am no longer angry with the people of Israel. He refused to tolerate the worship of any god but me, and that is why I did not destroy them in my anger. 12So tell him that I am making a covenant with him that is valid for all time to come. 13He and his descendants are permanently established as priests, because he did not tolerate any rivals to me and brought about forgiveness for the people's sin.”

14The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the head of a family in the tribe of Simeon. 15The woman's name was Cozbi. Zur, her father, was chief of a group of Midianite clans.

16The LORD commanded Moses, 17“Attack the Midianites and destroy them, 18because of the evil they did to you when they deceived you at Peor, and because of Cozbi, who was killed at the time of the epidemic at Peor.”

Numbers 25GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Second Census

1After the epidemic the LORD said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, 2“Take a census by families of the whole community of Israel, of all men twenty years old or older who are fit for military service.” 3-4Moses and Eleazar obeyed, and called together all the men of that age group. They assembled in the plains of Moab across the River Jordan from Jericho.

These were the Israelites who came out of Egypt:

5The tribe of Reuben (Reuben was the eldest son of Jacob): the clans of Hanoch, Pallu, 6Hezron, and Carmi. 7These clans numbered 43,730 men. 8The descendants of Pallu were Eliab 9and his sons Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. (These are the Dathan and Abiram who were chosen by the community. They defied Moses and Aaron and joined the followers of Korah when they rebelled against the LORD. 10The ground opened and swallowed them, and they died with Korah and his followers when fire destroyed 250 men; they became a warning to the people. 11But the sons of Korah were not killed.)

12The tribe of Simeon: the clans of Nemuel, Jamin, Jachin, 13Zerah, and Shaul. 14These clans numbered 22,200 men.

15The tribe of Gad: the clans of Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, 16Ozni, Eri, 17Arod, and Areli. 18These clans numbered 40,500 men.

19-21The tribe of Judah: the clans of Shelah, Perez, Zerah, Hezron, and Hamul. (Two of Judah's sons, Er and Onan, had died in the land of Canaan.) 22These clans numbered 76,500 men.

23The tribe of Issachar: the clans of Tola, Puah, 24Jashub, and Shimron. 25These clans numbered 64,300 men.

26The tribe of Zebulun: the clans of Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 27These clans numbered 60,500 men.

28The tribes of Joseph, who was the father of two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

29The tribe of Manasseh: Machir son of Manasseh was the father of Gilead, and the following clans traced their ancestry to Gilead: 30the clans of Iezer, Helek, 31Asriel, Shechem, 32Shemida, and Hepher. 33Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, but only daughters; their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 34These clans numbered 52,700 men.

35The tribe of Ephraim: the clans of Shuthelah, Becher, and Tahan. 36The clan of Eran traced its descent from Shuthelah. 37These clans numbered 32,500 men.

These are the clans descended from Joseph.

38The tribe of Benjamin: the clans of Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, 39Shephupham, and Hupham. 40The clans of Ard and Naaman traced their descent from Bela. 41These clans numbered 45,600 men.

42The tribe of Dan: the clan of Shuham, 43which numbered 64,400 men.

44The tribe of Asher: the clans of Imnah, Ishvi, and Beriah. 45The clans of Heber and Malchiel traced their descent from Beriah. 46Asher had a daughter named Serah. 47These clans numbered 53,400 men.

48The tribe of Naphtali: the clans of Jahzeel, Guni, 49Jezer, and Shillem. 50These clans numbered 45,400 men.

51The total number of the Israelite men was 601,730.

52The LORD said to Moses, 53“Divide the land among the tribes, according to their size. 54-56Divide the land by drawing lots, and give a large share to a large tribe and a small one to a small tribe.”

57The tribe of Levi consisted of the clans of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 58Their descendants included the sub-clans of Libni, Hebron, Mahli, Mushi, and Korah. Kohath was the father of Amram, 59who was married to Levi's daughter Jochebed, who was born in Egypt. She bore Amram two sons, Aaron and Moses, and a daughter, Miriam. 60Aaron had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 61Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unholy fire to the LORD. 62The male Levites who were one month old or older numbered 23,000. They were listed separately from the rest of the Israelites, because they were not given any property in Israel.

63All these clans were listed by Moses and Eleazar when they took a census of the Israelites in the plains of Moab across the River Jordan from Jericho. 64There was not even one man left among those whom Moses and Aaron had listed in the first census in the Sinai Desert. 65The LORD had said that all of them would die in the wilderness, and except for Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun they all did.

Numbers 26GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Daughters of Zelophehad

1Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah were the daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, son of Joseph. 2They went and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and the whole community at the entrance of the Tent of the LORD's presence and said, 3“Our father died in the wilderness without leaving any sons. He was not among the followers of Korah, who rebelled against the LORD; he died because of his own sin. 4Just because he had no sons, why should our father's name disappear from Israel? Give us property among our father's relatives.”

5Moses presented their case to the LORD, 6and the LORD said to him, 7“What the daughters of Zelophehad request is right; give them property among their father's relatives. Let his inheritance pass on to them. 8Tell the people of Israel that whenever a man dies without leaving a son, his daughter is to inherit his property. 9If he has no daughter, his brothers are to inherit it. 10If he has no brothers, his father's brothers are to inherit it. 11If he has no brothers or uncles, then his nearest relative is to inherit it and hold it as his own property. The people of Israel are to observe this as a legal requirement, just as I, the LORD, have commanded you.”

Joshua is Chosen as Successor to Moses

(Deut 31.1–8)

12The LORD said to Moses, “Go up the Abarim Mountains and look out over the land that I am giving to the Israelites. 13After you have seen it, you will die, as your brother Aaron did, 14because both of you rebelled against my command in the wilderness of Zin. When the whole community complained against me at Meribah, you refused to acknowledge my holy power before them.” (Meribah is the spring at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)

15Moses prayed, 16LORD God, source of all life, appoint, I pray, a man who can lead the people 17and can command them in battle, so that your community will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18The LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a capable man, and place your hands on his head. 19Make him stand in front of Eleazar the priest and the whole community, and there before them all proclaim him as your successor. 20Give him some of your own authority, so that the whole community of Israel will obey him. 21He will depend on Eleazar the priest, who will learn my will by using the Urim and Thummim. In this way Eleazar will direct Joshua and the whole community of Israel in all their affairs.” 22Moses did as the LORD had commanded him. He made Joshua stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole community. 23As the LORD had commanded, Moses put his hands on Joshua's head and proclaimed him as his successor.

Numbers 27GNBOpen in Bible reader

Questions about Marriage

1Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about.

A man does well not to marry. 2But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. 3A man should fulfil his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. 4A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. 5Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control.

6I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a concession. 7Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift.

8Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. 9But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry — it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband; 11but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.

12To the others I say (I, myself, not the Lord): if a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she agrees to go on living with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever and he agrees to go on living with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made acceptable to God by being united to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made acceptable to God by being united to her Christian husband. If this were not so, their children would be like pagan children; but as it is, they are acceptable to God. 15However, if the one who is not a believer wishes to leave the Christian partner, let it be so. In such cases the Christian partner, whether husband or wife, is free to act. God has called you to live in peace. 16How can you be sure, Christian wife, that you will not save your husband? Or how can you be sure, Christian husband, that you will not save your wife?

Live as God Called You

17Each of you should go on living according to the Lord's gift to you, and as you were when God called you. This is the rule I teach in all the churches. 18If a circumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not try to remove the marks of circumcision; if an uncircumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not get circumcised. 19For whether or not a man is circumcised means nothing; what matters is to obey God's commandments. 20Each of you should remain as you were when you accepted God's call. 21Were you a slave when God called you? Well, never mind; but if you have a chance to become free, use it. 22For a slave who has been called by the Lord is free for the Lord; in the same way a free person who has been called by Christ is his slave. 23God bought you for a price; so do not become slaves of human beings. 24My friends, each of you should remain in fellowship with God in the same condition as you were when you were called.

Questions about the Unmarried and the Widows

25Now, concerning what you wrote about unmarried people: I do not have a command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is worthy of trust.

26Considering the present distress, I think it is better for a man to stay as he is. 27Have you got a wife? Then don't try to get rid of her. Are you unmarried? Then don't look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you haven't committed a sin; and if an unmarried woman marries, she hasn't committed a sin. But I would rather spare you the everyday troubles that married people will have.

29What I mean, my friends, is this: there is not much time left, and from now on married men should live as though they were not married; 30those who weep, as though they were not sad; those who laugh, as though they were not happy; those who buy, as though they did not own what they bought; 31those who deal in material goods, as though they were not fully occupied with them. For this world, as it is now, will not last much longer.

32I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord's work, because he is trying to please the Lord. 33But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; 34and so he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord's work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters, because she wants to please her husband.

35I am saying this because I want to help you. I am not trying to put restrictions on you. Instead, I want you to do what is right and proper, and to give yourselves completely to the Lord's service without any reservation.

36In the case of an engaged couple who have decided not to marry: if the man feels that he is not acting properly towards the young woman and if his passions are too strong and he feels that they ought to marry, then they should get married, as he wants to. There is no sin in this. 37But if a man, without being forced to do so, has firmly made up his mind not to marry, and if he has his will under complete control and has already decided in his own mind what to do — then he does well not to marry the young woman. 38So the man who marries does well, but the one who doesn't marry does even better.

39A married woman is not free as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, then she is free to be married to any man she wishes, but only if he is a Christian. 40She will be happier, however, if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I too have God's Spirit.

1 Corinthians 7GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Question about Food Offered to Idols

1Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols.

It is true, of course, that “all of us have knowledge”, as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up. 2Those who think they know something really don't know as they ought to know. 3But the person who loves God is known by him.

4So then, about eating the food offered to idols: we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God. 5Even if there are so-called “gods”, whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these “gods” and “lords”, 6yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.

7But not everyone knows this truth. Some people have been so used to idols that to this day when they eat such food they still think of it as food that belongs to an idol; their conscience is weak, and they feel they are defiled by the food. 8Food, however, will not improve our relations with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat.

9Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. 10Suppose a person whose conscience is weak in this matter sees you, who have so-called “knowledge”, eating in the temple of an idol; will not this encourage him to eat food offered to idols? 11And so this weak person, your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your “knowledge”! 12And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against your Christian brothers and sisters and wounding their weak conscience. 13So then, if food makes my brother or sister sin, I will never eat meat again, so as not to make my brother or sister fall into sin.

1 Corinthians 8GNBOpen in Bible reader
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