The Zealot

 A shocking little story in Numbers 25 gives us a glimpse into the mind of God. The Israelites were in big trouble for committing sexual sin and worshiping idols. They were doing exactly what God had warned them NOT to do, becoming like the pagans around them. God sent a horrible plague through the camp, which brought the whole nation before God in repentance. Right in the middle of their worship service, one guy swaggered through their meeting with a sleazy girl on his arm, headed to his tent to do exactly what the people of God were repenting for.
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Phinehas, great nephew of Moses, was horrified and did something about it. He followed the boldly-sinning pair to their tent and ran his spear through them both. Instead of condemning Phinehas for murder, God praised him for being "zealous with my zeal." God honored him and promised that blessings would follow for generations to come. He also stopped the plague he had sent upon the rest of the people.

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So what can we learn from this? The modern notion is that when God sent Jesus, He threw out the whole concept of holiness. Is that what the Bible teaches? Could it be that God is still pleased when we refuse to tolerate boldly sinning people who claim to belong to Him? If the God who never changes was pleased with Phinehas' zeal for God's honor, is he equally pleased when we use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph. 6), to confront boldly-sinning church members?

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Seems like we might have this whole tolerance and passive-love thing upside down. We've developed the idea that God honors those who look the other way. We call it love. But the God of Love praised Phinehas for being "zealous with my zeal." What is God zealous about? The righteousness and holiness of His people. When we are zealous for righteousness and holiness--in our own lives as well as the lives of those who profess to be brothers and sisters--scripture is clear that we honor God and he is pleased to honor us.


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