TipriTV.com Numbers 25:1-3,5-9,12-13,17-18 While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord’s anger to blaze against his people... So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.” Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as everyone was weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle. When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died... Now tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him. In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me”... “Attack the Midianites and destroy them, because they assaulted you with deceit and tricked you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed at the time of the plague because of what happened at Peor.”
God's anger was justified because of the actions of His chosen ones but the result is hard to understand when we consider God's love and forgiving nature. What is God speaking to us through this chapter?
The victorious Israelite men who seem to defeat the undefeated in their own strength fell prey to the lust of flesh by sleeping with their enemies daughters.
They caused the strong people of the land to shiver by their conquests but they succumbed when solicited by the offer of sensual passions (1st passion) of the flesh.
Furthermore, they worshipped the gods of Moab and broke the first and second commandment God gave them which was to love their God with all their heart and not bow down before any other God.
Reminds me of Bond movies that always has sensuality as the reward for the hero's self-fought victories.
Unfortunately for these men who faltered, their victory was never their own because God ordained it and brought it to pass.
God organized them into the tribes and formations, led them with specificity, directed their every movement, worked in the minds and hearts of their enemies, and gave them their victory at little cost.
Therefore there really was nothing for the men to pride themselves in but be grateful that God was on their side.
Like them, I have faltered many a time in my life and still do when I foolishly think I have accomplished something on my own.
Today my version of celebration might be a greasy snack or some 'me' time to do something I want but how can I do the victory lap for something that was ordained and directed by my God for His glory?
The second passion we note in today's chapter is Phinehas' for God and for his fellow Israelites.
He could not bear to allow Zimri and Cozbi to destroy everything God had blessed Israel with and instead took their lives.
His passionate response seems to echo Jesus' outburst at the temple when He saw traders misuse the temple to profit.
And he (Jesus) was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." Mark 11:17 (NLT)
The third and most revealing passion was that of God's when He took the lives of 24,000 Israelites through a plague because they had sold their inheritance for a few moments of sensual pleasures.
God did state in the second commandment to the Israelites that He was a jealous God and to those of His saved who worshipped other gods, He would severely punish them and their future generations.
This same God who had promised their ancestors to establish them in their own land and did so much for the was now angered by their disrespectful actions and forgetfulness.
Reminds me as it must have reminded the mourning Israelites of how we cannot live in the moment but rather live for the future because of what God has done for us in the past, at present and is about to in future.
When our hope moves from the assurance of spending an eternity with God to living for the moment, we sell our eternal inheritance in God's presence for God's wrath.
In His Loving Service,