Why Peor Matters Right Now

During the message many topics will be covered, hopefully I’ll have some self control and won’t dig too deep into any of them, we should be home in time for dinner. We start off with a game, and it is really me taking a measure of how long the message will be. Going through a list of words to see how comfortable everyone is with them. Here is the list:

  1. Bible
  2. Old Testament
  3. Moses
  4. The Exodus
  5. Book of Numbers
  6. Balak
  7. Balaam
  8. Peor
  9. Patmos
  10. Revelation
  11. Pergamum

If you are familiar with some of these words, you will notice that this is a Bible spanning message. Starting right at the beginning and stretching all the way to the end. Now through all the topics and words we cover it is essential to remember that Christ is at the center of it all. Everything we cover and discuss is building up either the narrative or revealing the need for Jesus. We will be going down the word list here in order. 

Bible

God’s word as a collection of books, collected into the Old Testament (First Covenant), and New Testament (Second Covenant), telling God’s story, revealing His love, and showing the need for the coming of a Messiah who is Jesus Christ.

Old Testament

The Tanakh or Tanak is the Hebrew Bible, the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is also the textual source for the Old Testament. It is an acronym, made of the initial consonants of the Hebrew words Torah (“the law”, Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (prophets), and Ketuvim (writings). Scribes were responsible for making copies and preserving the accuracy of the text. After all, before the printing press it all had to be done by hand. This was a serious job. Because changes were not allowed, when scribes and rabbis had things worth saying they would write in the margins to add context and their thoughts from the oral tradition to the pages. They created the Talmud which looks like this with the verse/passage in the middle the commentary surrounding it. Almost like a study Bible, but with a lot more history. This is important later.

Moses

Born under a death order and for 40 years raised in the home of the guy who tried to murder him. Murdered someone and went into exile. Spent the next 40 years in the wilderness, that might be useful experience later. Met a burning bush, told an important person to, “let my people go.” This begins the Exodus.

The Exodus

The event of God calling His people out of slavery and towards the Promised Land. This should have been a relatively short trip but turned into 40 years of wandering needlessly because the people betrayed God and worshipped an idol.

Book of Numbers

Authored by Moses is a record mainly of members of the Exile, but also includes some narrative of important events that happened during the Exile. Including the people’s journey to see the promised land from the plains of Moab, where the Promised Land would have been visible across the Jordan River. 

Balak

The King in Moab at the time. Scared to death of God’s people because he knows they are an unbeatable threat to his way of life. He has no intention of yielding to God and is looking for ways to get a leg up on the Israelites. He won’t win a straight up fight so it looks for a spiritualist to pronounce a curse on God’s people. 

Balaam

Just the man for the job. Although he does warn Balak that he will not say anything but what God directs him to. On three separate occasions Balaam travels to a place where he can see God’s people, and when Balak expects a curse, Balaam gives a blessing. Balaam prepares to leave Balak, but first announces a star that will rise from Jacob. Remember that later it was a star that rose that the wise men followed to find Jesus. That’s right, Balaam, a non-Israelite prophesied Jesus.

Peor

Immediately following Balaam’s departure, God’s people fall into idolatry. Instead of uprooting the practices and beliefs of the people who lived in the land, they start to graft those things into themselves. They start to worship false gods, and they start to marry in. Marriage isn’t the issue, it is the adoption of the idols when they do marry. Remember that Rahab was just across the Jordan river at the time, and she also joined the Israelites, but did not bring her old culture and idols. She is the family line of Jesus. The problem is that God’s people played the harlot against Him. The sin at Peor was so severe that people died in a plague before coming wholly back to God.

Patmos

Fast forward in time, Patmos is an island used for exile and imprisonment by the Romans during and after the time of Jesus. John is imprisoned here when he records the Revelation of Jesus, the final book in the Bible.

Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is contested by many scholars, is it a prophecy of the future, has it taken place? Some combination of the two? Ultimately as Christians we look forward to the next coming of Jesus, when He brings His kingdom. Revelation helps us to understand the nature of His coming, what to expect, but it also teaches us many valuable and actionable lessons to apply to our lives today.

Pergamum

One of seven churches Jesus tells John to write letters to. Jesus has a special word for each of these churches about how they are living up to His commands (love God and love people Matt 22:36-40) and his commission (Matt 28:16-20). Pergamum is in modern day Turkey. Although they were living effectively they struggled with adopting cultural idols. Just like how Balaam taught Balak, get the things and concerns of the world in really close, and God’s people will make them more important in their hearts than God. Jesus plainly says that Balak hired Balaam and that Balaam gave advice to Balak to put stumbling blocks in front of God’s people. Remember me showing that picture of a Talmud page? That is where he can learn more about what Jesus is talking about. It is important to remember, and Jesus demonstrates this here, that we can learn from recorded history, even if it isn’t in the Bible. Just remember that God’s word, the Bible, is the only writing without error. Jesus gives hope to those who repent by announcing a blessing. Not only for those who repent but for every member of the church.

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