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.
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.
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?
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
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