Who are the Midianites? And why did they serve God??

This question is from my small group for a women’s bible study at my church. We are looking at the women of the bible and trying to learn from them. In Exodus 2, we are introduced to the Midianites, a clan with whom Moses spends a significant time with and later marries the daughter of the priest, Jethro. But the Midianites aren’t Israelites, right? So why would they know about God?

Using Strong’s concordance, we can see that the Midianites are descended through Abraham and his wife Keturah through his son Midian. Midian had five sons, and they lived in the desert north of the Arabian Peninsula, eventually becoming modern day Arabians. Midian and his descendants would have known about God from Abraham. This would have explained Jethro’s position of priest. However, there was more that I found out about the Midianites.

The Midianites sent a group of men with a group from Moab to ask Baalam, a man of whom it was said “….whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”(Numbers 22:6)

The next time they show up in Scripture is Numbers 25, when one of the Midianite women was caught with an Israelite man in his tent, and Phineas, the son of Eleazar, slung a spear through the two of them. Not the greatest reputation for the nation, right?? But it gets worse. Next we see in Numbers 31:3, Moses is telling the Israelites to arm themselves against the Midianites for the LORD’s vengeance, ending up slaying the five kings of Midian as well as every male.

However, later the Lord uses Midian to punish the Israelites in Judges 6. After that, Gideon is used to take down the advancing forces of the Midianites. Once the the Midianites are taken care of, there is practically no mention of them, except in passing, or in comparison.

So what do we take away from this??

I think the thing to remember is how good the Midianites started out, but how badly they ended. In 1st Corinthians 9 and Hebrews 12, Paul encourages us to run strong, to finish the race! We need to keep our eyes on the prize and to “run in such a way as to win.” (1st Cor 9:24). The Midianites failed to end strong. Let us learn from their mistakes, and not follow their example.


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