24,000 died because of the people's awhoring after the Baal gods of Moab. 24,000! You’d think Israel would learn. But then, we think of our own track records and note that we can so easily fall into sin, and often, the same old sins that we have fought against for so long. Except for God's grace and patience with us, what really separates us from Israel at Peor?
And, as so often is the case, one man stepped into the breach and saved the day. When he saw the wrongs committed by the people, Phinehas acted. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy’” (25:10,11).
Another story, that of the daughters of Zelophehad (ch. 27). Their father had died without having any sons. The Mosaic legislation provided for the family inheritance to be passed down only through a son. “Moses brought their case before the Lord” (27:5), and the Lord agreed that it was right for the daughters to receive the inheritance in this case, and this matter was made into a rule and statute for all the people. Fairness. Righteousness. Most striking is Moses’ inquiring of the Lord. He needed to be sure he got this right. Isn’t it good to go to our God and his Word and let him guide our steps! The story continues with Joshua appointed as Moses’ successor and the giving of additional instructions for various offerings and vows. Through it all, God continues to suffer long with Israel and to show his mercy.
Thou hidden Love of God, whose height,
whose depth unfathomed, no man knows,
I see from far Thy beauteous light,
and inly sigh for Thy repose;
my heart is pained, nor can it be
at rest till it finds rest in Thee. --Gerhard Tersteegen (1729)