Be Passionate about what God is Passionate About
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.” Numbers 25:6-18 NIV
In the face of the compromise and indifference of God’s people, Phineas arises as a hero of the faith. Phineas’ story is a bit of an unusual and extreme one.
Phineas is the grandson of Aaron, Moses’ brother and former High Priest of Israel. He sees some gross and obvious sin going on around him when he notices God’s people bowing down to false gods. Phineas goes into the tent of Zimri, a leader of Israel who took defiantly took a Midianite woman into his tent in the middle of the camp to have sex with her. Some commentators suggest that he did this near the tabernacle, but the author may have been hesitant to say this because of the offensiveness of it.
Phineas, in his zeal for God, goes in and actually kills both Zimri (the leader) and Kozbi (the Midianite woman). When God’s people, more specifically God’s leaders, had blatantly sinned, this disturbed Phineas deeply. It broke him so much so that he simply had to step up and take action. He could not stand idly by.
Of course it seems extreme to go in and kill two people. Of course it is controversial. Of course it is not to be taken lightly when someone kills another. Yet the point of these verses is that Phineas was zealous for the honor of God. He was passionate about what God was passionate about. An important note for me is that I need to be careful to guard myself from thinking that just because I am passionate about something, thinking that He is passionate about it too. Rather than align His will to my values, I need to align my will to His values.
Phineas’ name and story is not nearly as popular as that of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, or Moses. His story in Numbers 25, is found in an obscure book in itself. While his actions appear to be over the top and extreme, it is important to catch that he was willing to do the un-popular and to take a risk to please God. Phineas was more concerned with what God thought and what God valued, than about what his culture valued and thought. Phineas teaches that the key to overcoming indifference is being passionate about the things that God is passionate about. He also teaches that I must be willing to take a risk to do what I believe God would do.
The church has not been called to blend into the culture around us. The church has been called to change the culture around us. Believers have not been called to be indifferent to needs that we see. We have been called to be people who love God so much more than we love the applause of men. Phineas serves a reminder to me that I need to be willing to pay the price, to sacrifice my comfort, my reputation, and all that I am in order to not just have a faith in God that stays in my head, but overflows to my hands.
God is looking for and calling out to men and women who are willing to stand up and be counted as “zealous for His name.” He wants men and women of God to arise and have the courage to be a modern day Phineas, who values God’s honor, more than our own reputation. God wants to use and work through people who are passionate about what He is passionate about.
Here is the question for this devotion. What is it that you need to be zealous for His name in today? Maybe there is an ungodly relationship that needs to be killed. Don’t hesitate. Kill it. There could be busyness that keeps you from being closer to God. Maybe you need to ruthlessly rearranging your schedule so that you can have time to do devotions and to be in fellowship with God’s people. Don’t hesitate. Do it. Maybe there are some attitudes that you know God wants you to change. Ruthlessly attack and kill off those old attitudes and let God fill you. Maybe you are looking at images that you know God does not want you to be looking at. Cut it off and kill it! Could God be tugging at the string of your heart to begin a new ministry or to share the Gospel with the person you don’t want to offend? What is it that God needs your heart to burn for and take zealous action about?
Phineas took radical and extreme measures for God because to him, God wasn’t a religion or a theory to him. Obedience to God was the driving factor in his life. That has to be a driving factor in my life too. God is looking for faithful believers who are willing to take up their spears and fight for Him. He wants men and women who are zealous for His honor. God is waiting, and it is time that SOLDIERS OF CHRIST ARISE for Him!!!
Lord Jesus, empower me to be a brave and bold soldier for You. Lord that I would follow You with a reckless abandon and that I would have the courage and boldness of Phineas to step up when You need someone to step up. Lord that I would have the spirit of Phineas when I am afraid or uneasy about stepping forward for You. Amen.