Loving Father, you bless me through your Word. As I seek your voice, help me to hear and to follow it.
Read NUMBERS 25
Moab Seduces Israel
25 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.
4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”
5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”
6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.
10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.
16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. 18 They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?’ (Matthew 5:13, The Message).
On the high places, Balaam has recognized that Israel is different from other nations (Numbers 23:9). They are called to be holy, as their God is holy (Leviticus 19:2). Meanwhile, on the plain below, they start behaving like the surrounding nations, lured into the sexual promiscuity associated with the worship of Baal, the fertility god. Their behavior is reminiscent of that of an earlier generation, after receiving the Law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32).
The blatant behavior of Zimri (vs 6,14) epitomizes the corruption of the whole nation, while the action of Phinehas conveys the holiness of God (v 11). This gory killing of a man and woman, possibly in the very act of sexual intercourse, sounds horrific. However, it served to protect the nation from the far more extensive punishment that God had pronounced (vs 4,11).
We may be more shocked by the actions of Phinehas than those of Zimri. The role of the priesthood was not just to perform sacred ceremonies: it was to maintain the holiness of the nation. Phinehas courageously acted as a true priest. Without holiness, Israel was just like any other nation. These stories have been preserved so that we don’t make the same mistakes (1 Corinthians 10:6-8).
Am I losing my Christian distinctiveness? Is there an area of compromise that needs to be checked?
The world offers so many distractions. Father, I need your wisdom and power to walk closely with you.
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