Israelís people had almost reached the borders of the country that God had promised to them. There, they would have to deal with a difficult test that had not seriously affected them before that.
The people who lived in that region served a false god called Baal. Baal was a god of sex, and sex was an important part of his religion. So women from Moab and Midian tried to tempt the men from Israel. Many of the men accepted the womenís offer. Again, they were following their emotions when they ought to obey God. God wanted them to be free people; they chose to let their emotions rule their lives.
They suffered a terrible punishment. Paul records how 23,000 people died. That perhaps means just the common people; many leaders died too (Numbers 25:4). Numbers 25:9 mentions 24,000 people who died because of this incident.
Christians too must be careful not to allow their emotions to rule their lives. In such matters, our feelings quickly become very strong. So we must obey God; and not our feelings.
Paul told the church leaders in Corinth to deal strictly with a man who was guilty of this evil behaviour ((5:1-2). Godís people should never behave in such an evil manner (1 Corinthians: 6:9-10). Godís Holy Spirit lives in them. So if they do these wrong things, they offend against God (6:13-20).
God forgives people for every kind of evil deed, but they must repent. In other words, they must confess their evil deeds to him, and they must ask him to change their lives. With his help, they can overcome their desire to do these wrong things.
Next part: Do not test God (1 Corinthians 10:9)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.