There are times that I read the Old Testament and it’s more than my stomach can handle. As someone who has never been able to watch scary or gory movies without the image getting seared in my mind, the Bible stories are sometimes almost as vivid. And then there are other days that although I wouldn’t have the stomach for it, I get so fed up with the wickedness of this world that I can totally understand how God could wipe out half a nation.
We find one such case of God’s wrath in the book of Numbers. In the first verse it is said that “Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” (vs. 1) They had begun to sacrifice and bow down to their gods, at which time God gives Moses the command to “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.”(vs. 4). I think God is pretty serious about sin to say the least, but there was a hero in the story that stopped God’s wrath by the name of Phinehas.
One of the children of Israel had brought into the congregation of the Lord a Midianite woman while the children of Israel were weeping at the door of the tabernacle because of the state of affairs. God had just laid the charge to slay those who had sinned in this manner against God, and this guy brings a woman into the congregation of the Lord. When Phinehas sees what happened scripture says “And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. (Vss. 7-8)
That act alone stopped the wrath of God.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: (Vss. 10-12)
I’m not suggesting anyone go to this extreme, but oh that men would be so zealous as to stand up in the congregations of the Lord and say “Enough!” The church in so many ways has linked arms with the world, there is no longer a separation or a holiness. Sin is overlooked and embraced dependent upon “who” it is. Praise God we are now under grace, God no longer calls upon the destruction of a nation He doesn’t have too, we’re destroying ourselves.
This is a somber thought for Monday morning, but I just feel that I needed to remind myself as I go out into the world today that God expects more of me. Just because the world says it is okay does not make it so. I am a child of God, set aside for His purpose saved by His grace. If the Israelite and the Moabitish woman were cast before me today, I’m called to give them grace, not judgment. I want those I meet today to see the love and grace of almighty God in me, but I also want to remember the zealousness of Phinehas who called sin out and saved his people. I have to begin by examining my own life… The other children of Israel were weeping at the door of the church, but Phinehas zealously acted on it and saved his nation.
What can we do… stop “playing” church. Live it!