You would think that a total victory was a matter of rejoicing; but Moses was angry with the victorious warriors of the attack on Midian because they did not go far enough—they let the women who could have sexual relations with men live—part of the booty of war.
The warriors—a thousand from each tribe—had gone out under the direction of Pinchas—the priest who had executed the LORD’S vengeance on Zimri and Cozbi—a prince of Simeon who had flagrantly taken into his tent the daughter of a Midianite princess. This was idolatrous fornication in the sight of all Israel, and God honored Pinchas for executing the Divine Wrath against their prostitution. Now these warriors who had gone forth under the orders of that valiant priest had returned with the very kind of women who had seduced Israel by the direction of the wicked prophet Balaam.
In Numbers 31:15, Moses flared out against them, saying, “Have you saved the women alive?” Moses then ordered the execution of all the captives except the small girls who had not reached puberty. Then in verse 19 he gave an order to the soldiers to apply to themselves the ritual of the Red Heifer. To the twelve thousand he said:
VE’ATEM CHA’NI’U MI’CHUTZ LAM’MA’CHANEH SHIV’AT YAMIM
And you all—abide outside the camp for seven days.
KOL HO’RAG NEFESH VE’KOL NO’GE’AH BE’CHA’LAL
Whoever killed any soul (person) and whoever has touched any slain
TIT’CHAT’TU BA’YOM HASH’LISHI U’VA’YOM HAS’VI’I
make yourselves pure on the third day and on the seventh day—
you and your captives.
So then, here we have a first implementation of the Ritual of the Red Heifer—purification from death by the sprinkling of the water of purification during a seven-day period of quarantine from the camp of the LORD—so that the Tabernacle that Houses the Divine Presence may not be defiled by the contamination of death occasioned during the war of the LORD against Midian.
This is why David the warrior King could not build the Temple; Solomon the King of Peace had to build it.
There is a defilement that comes with war—even with a war initiated by God to wreak vengeance on the satanic forces in the world. Humans get caught up in the eternal conflict. There must be a cleansing from this engagement before wholeness can be restored to the people of God.
In the current time of the history of the world we are experiencing a heinous outbreak of defiling conflict that is persecuting all of mankind. It will take godly action to remove the effects of this from humanity. Yet the promise is that God will give to his people victory over evil and he will restore us through a necessary period of healing and cleansing.
In your personal experience this is true as well. As you work through the challenges of your daily life let the LORD keep your heart and mind pure through the “washing of water by the word*” and by the direct ministry of the Holy Spirit who will “lead you and guide you into all truth.^” There is healing in the blood of Jesus for all defilements. Invoke the precious blood of the Lamb, the blood that forgives, covers, heals and saves. Do not neglect its restorative potency for your soul.**
*Ephesians 5:26; ^John 16:13; **1 Peter 1:2, 18-19 with Luke 22:19-20