Freedom is possible!
Strength To Fight
While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. (Bemidbar/Numbers 25:1-3)
Most of this week's parsha (Torah reading portion) tells the story of how King Balak of Moab in the vicinity of what would one day be known as Eretz Yisrael (English: The Land of Israel) was in dread of the people of Israel after hearing of their defeat over the neighboring Amorites. So he devised a plan whereby he would hire a diviner by the name of Bilaam (or Balaam) to pronounce curses upon Israel to undermine them. It didn't work because God controlled Bilaam's mouth and caused him to speak nothing but blessing.
The dynamics of this story read strange to those who deny the existence and power of such things. But strangeness aside, as I mentioned, it didn't work. However, that's not the end of the story. God's protection of Israel was short lived, as not long afterwards they fell prey to a different kind of assault and lost. And unless you read beyond this parsha, you may not realize that it was Bilaam who initiated the plan to lure Israel into idolatry through sexual promiscuity (see Bemidbar/Numbers 31:16).
What Bilaam could not accomplish through spiritual manipulation and magic, he did through sex. But if God went out of his way, so to speak, to ensure that Israel would not be cursed, then how could disaster ensue the way it did? Why didn't the earlier blessing protect them?
Whether it makes sense to us or not, this story demonstrates the great power of sexual desire. It is difficult for us to admit that we have very little control over this part of our lives. But once engaged, sexual promiscuity has the power to enslave us. Unless we purposely keep sexual expression within the boundaries God has established, it will always have the upper hand.
But again, why didn't God just stop this from happening? In the first incident, the King devised a plot against them of which they had no control. In the second, they were lured into it. They knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. Willingly giving in to temptation resulted in the worship of false gods.
This is not to say that once people engage in sexual sin, they can never be free. It's that there is something about the nature of this area of life that needs to be taken way more seriously than is common in our day. The devastation to self and others due to misguided sexual expression is perhaps unlike anything else. Best practice demands that we never cross these lines, for while rescue is possible, it is very difficult.
We see this in the high rate of pornography addiction, and how being introduced to it can easily lead to compulsive use. Like other forms of sexual deviance, even one experience has the power of lifetime entrapment.
This is why my son, Josh, has recently started Strength To Fight an organization dedicated to changing the culture with regard to pornography. Strength To Fight is developing resources to inform parents and leaders as to the porn industry's aggressive tactics toward children and others and is helping those already caught in its trap to find freedom.
The seductive lure of porn and other forms of sexual sin need not have the final say in our lives. A key aspect of the Messiah's mandate is "setting the captives free (see Luke 4:18). You need not remain victim to addiction, sexual or otherwise. Yeshua will help you. It may not be easy, but he can give you the strength to fight.
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